ESPN's Bill Barnwell picks Saquon Barkley for Comeback Player of the Year
Saquon Barkley has undoubtedly had an incredible first half of the season.
The media is now recognizing Barkley's stellar performance thus far this year. ESPN's Bill Barnwell recently made his selections for the 2022 midseason awards, where Barkley was his choice for Comeback Player of the Year.
"Barkley looks like a transformative player after three years of being slowed by ankle and knee injuries," wrote Barnwell. "He looks much closer to the player we saw as a rookie, but this time around, he's the focal point for a Giants team that is actually winning games and competing for a playoff berth.We can lean on the advanced metrics from NFL Next Gen Stats to help tell the story. Let's use rush yards over expectation (RYOE), which measures how many yards a running back gains versus what an average back would expect to gain with the same blockers against the same players on defense. Barkley averaged 1.1 RYOE per carry as a rookie. After dropping to 0.6 RYOE in 2019 and posting minus-0.3 RYOE in both 2020 and 2021, he's back up to 1.1 RYOE in 2022.
"Of course, Barkley has managed to time some of his biggest plays for key fourth-quarter moments. He broke a tackle on the 2-point attempt that gave the Giants a win over the Titans in the opener. His biggest catch of the season, a 41-yarder against the Packers, helped set up his game-winning touchdown. Runs of 13, 18 and 20 yards in the final quarter against the Jaguars set up a comeback victory. It's impossible to imagine the Giants thriving in the NFC East without Barkley."
Barkley missed at least three games in each season from 2019-2021, missing a total of 21 contests during that span.
Now healthy, Barkley ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards (779) and total yards from scrimmage (968), and has played in at least 80 percent of the team's offensive snaps in every game but one. The lone exception was the Week 5 matchup against the Packers in London that saw the star back briefly depart the game with a shoulder injury.
Barkley has averaged 97.4 rushing yards per game this season. If the 25-year-old continues at this pace, he will easily top his previous career-high of 81.7 yards on the ground per game set during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2018.
Barnwell's other finalists for the Comeback Player of the Year Award included Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith and Minnesota Vikings edge defender Za'Darius Smith.
View photos of Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
BEST photos from first half
The Giants enjoyed a strong first half of the season, surprising many around the NFL world by winning six of their first eight games heading into the bye week.
The team has now returned to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center and will continue preparations for the second half of the season, which begins with four of the next five games at home and includes a crucial stretch of four consecutive games against the NFC East.
Before we flip the page to the second half of the season, let's take one last look back at the first eight games of 2022.
Whether it's the best of the rookie class, every touchdown scored, the top defensive photos or just the all-around best photos from the first few months of the season, Giants.com has you covered.
Check out the galleries below for all of the top moments from the first half of the season.
View photos from the first half of the season as the Giants entered the bye at 6-2, their best start since 2012.