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Saquon Barkley: 'We have a great team'

Giants running back Saquon Barkley scores a fourth-quarter

Giants running back Saquon Barkley scores a fourth-quarter touchdown against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 30, 2018. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Saquon Barkley could become the NFL’s best running back in 2019. Oddly enough, though, it is not one of his goals as he heads into his second season with the Giants.

Year One taught him that such accolades — even being named the Offensive Rookie of the Year — don’t count for much.

“I think you could make an argument that I was one of the best running backs in the league last year and we went 5-11 to account for it,” he said on Thursday. “My mindset is whatever it takes to take this team to another level and compete for a championship, whether that is 2,000 yards, 2,500 yards or 800 yards.”

It’ll probably have to be more than 800. Barkley is now the focal point of an offense that is without Odell Beckham Jr. Barkley said he was shocked to hear about the trade of the wide receiver to the Browns at first but now thinks the Giants can be better despite not having one of the league’s top receivers.

“That is our team right now and we have to believe in each other,” he said.

There are many who do not. Barkley was asked what he would like to say to “frustrated” fans of the Giants who wonder — sometimes loudly — about the direction of the organization and the decisions that are made. This is a team that is relying on a 38-year-old quarterback who has lost 23 of his last 31 starts, a team that has one playoff appearance in the past seven seasons, and a team that just jettisoned one of the most talented players in franchise history less than a year after signing him to an extension.

“Why?” Barkley said. “Why would they be frustrated? In my opinion, we have a great team, a great quarterback, great offensive line, great running back and great wide receivers, so on and so on. We figured it out somewhat in the second half last year. We have that mindset and that belief about team, toughness and together. We could have a great season this year.”

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