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Saquon Barkley has something he's never had before and he's loving it

The former Giants running back is excited about joining an Eagles offense loaded with talent

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To fully understand why Saquon Barkley is so happy being an Eagle you have to understand what it was like being a Giant.

He was there six years. 

His teams won more than six games once and won one playoff game. He was never part of an offense ranked higher than 17th. His quarterback the last five years was Daniel Jones. 

He didn’t play alongside a wide receiver who had 800 yards after his rookie year. He’s never played with a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, quarterback or wide receiver. He made more Pro Bowls since entering the NFL in 2018 than all his offensive teammates combined.

No wonder he’s been smiling since he got here.

“The biggest thing that struck me is our first 7-on-7 huddle (in OTAs),” Barkley said. “You see A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Hurts. It's not a bad group to be out there with. And that's not even including the offensive linemen.”

For the sake of comparison, the Eagles over the last six years have had only one losing season, reached the playoffs five times, were ranked 12th or higher in offense four times, have had nine offensive Pro Bowlers including four offensive linemen and have had three guys with six 1,000-yard seasons.

Brown and Smith have each had over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons. The Giants haven’t even had a receiver with 800 yards since Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard in 2018.

And we could compare Jones and Hurts but there’s really no need to. Jones has won 22 of 59 starts. Hurts has won 34 of 51 starts.

“There's a lot of talent,” Barkley said. “There was a lot of talent before I got here. I feel like I only can add to that. 

“But at the same time you can't look too far. And that's the beauty of it. That's the beauty of coming in every single day, working with each other, pushing each other. And that's only going to make when the regular season get here and camp get here that much easier.”

Barkley had an up-and-down six years in East Rutherford. His first two years, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and 80 yards per game. The last four he’s averaged 4.0 and 65 while dealing with injuries and a lack of talent around him.

How much can being part of a winning culture surrounded by outstanding talent help a running back? Just compare Miles Sanders’ numbers in 2022 with the Eagles and 2023 with the Panthers.

The Eagles are banking on Barkley regaining his form of 2018 and 2022 in an offense that will be unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

And it starts with the quarterback. 

“It’s been amazing,” Barkley said of working with Hurts. “I've always admired his game from afar, not just Jalen, a whole bunch of guys here. So it's been fun to learn the system, get into the weight room with these guys, get on the field with these guys, especially Jalen, and continue to build something.”

Other than maybe his rookie year with OBJ — when he led the NFL in scrimmage yards — Barkley has always been the guy opposing defenses had to account for. The Giants didn’t have any other weapons.

If you’re a defensive coordinator watching film of the Giants, do you try to figure out ways to stop Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Shepard or Barkley?

Now?

The focus of the offense will change week by week, but Barkley hasn’t had the luxury of playing alongside one elite wide receiver over the last five years.

Now he has two.

“I’ve (always) admired them from afar but actually being here, being in the building with those guys and seeing how they work? You know, they're just super talented on the field but they match everything that they do on the field with practice and in the weight room,” Barkley said of Smith and Brown.

“I'm excited to be here with them and excited to be here with this team. … I was at one place for six years and put on one jersey for six years. It was fun, but it's like a fresh start. I feel like a rookie again. Getting to know everybody in here, learning the culture, buying into the culture. 

"I'm feeling like it's home. Finally got to a spot and I've just been loving it.”

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