MIAMI – Add Tiki Barber to the list of folks giving their stamp of approval to newly hired coach Joe Judge, especially when it comes to Judge’s hiring of Jason Garrett as his offensive coordinator.
“One of the hardest things to do for young coaches is to find staff,” Barber said of the 38-year-old Judge, who was hired earlier this month to replace Pat Shurmur. “I remember when coach [Jim] Fassel lost a couple of his coordinators – John Fox and Sean Payton – and replacing them was hard. It was one of the reasons that we started to falter. To have the ability to staff the way that [Judge] has done is encouraging.”
Barber said the hiring of Garrett, the former head coach of the Cowboys, is one of Judge’s best early moves. Barber and Garrett were Giants teammates when Barber was the team’s starting running back and Garrett was a backup to Kerry Collins.
“I love Jason,” Barber said. “He was the only other guy who lived in the city [during their Giants playing days]. I’m biased because he’s a friend of mine, but I think he’s going to do a good job.”
One of Garrett’s biggest challenges: getting the most out of tailback Saquon Barkley.
“I think there’s some expansion of the offense that needs to happen with Saquon,” said Barber, co-host of CBS Sports’ “Tiki & Tierney” radio show with Brandon Tierney. “He does so much. It felt limited last year. Some of that was probably because he was nursing an [ankle] injury for so long. But I think he can only grow as he gets more experience with staying healthy, which is a part of the job as well. I think the sky is the limit for him. I’m excited for him, but I think they need to utilize him like some of these other really dynamic running backs are being utilized around the league.”
Barber holds the Giants’ record with 10,449 rushing yards and had 55 rushing touchdowns. “Not for long,” Barber said of his record.
He believes that Barkley, who has 2,310 yards and 17 touchdowns, easily will wind up establishing a new standard in Giants history.
“I did all my damage in three of four years,” Barber said. “If Saquon plays for seven years – which he will – he’ll fly by me.”
Barber said he was glad that Eli Manning retired after 16 seasons, saying “it was time. We chatted via text afterwards, and he’s excited for the future. He’s got a family. He’s got many things on the horizon, I’m sure, just like his brother [Peyton] does. It was the right decision for him, and he seems at peace with it.”
Barber said he has had a good relationship with Manning, despite the perception “from a media standpoint that there was this rift. There really wasn’t.”
Barber questioned Manning’s leadership skills after the running back retired following the 2006 season and began a broadcasting career.
“Eli and I have been good for a long time.”
He only wishes Manning could have gone out like Peyton, who retired after the Broncos’ victory in Super Bowl 50.
“I felt for him in a lot of ways,” Barber said. “You almost want to craft it perfectly to end it, but the fact that it didn’t end perfectly, I guess it’s kind of like the New York thing.”