FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Whether it's running with the ball or catching passes, Giants' rookie running back Saquon Barkley has proven to be a problem for opposing defenses six games into his young career.
And the Falcons know the challenge they're up against when it comes to stopping the rookie out of Penn State on Monday night. Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, has 811 all-purpose yards through six games.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said there's not many players that have the unique skillset Barkley possess in his ability to break off long runs and his ability to change direction.
He even mentioned him in the same category as Julio Jones in that regard.
"When we studied and showed our install for our tackling plan, what it really goes to show is that he has two things that I think make up an excellent player: he has home run speed and as any player when you can take a play that may end up being a 4-yarder to the house, that's impressive," Quinn said.
"He also has change of direction, like a smaller back. It's pretty rare that you may see a player who has exceptional change of direction and not home run speed. So one of the players I can think of is Julio where he has the long speed and the change of direction. There's just not a lot of players that have the combination of both."
Understanding your leverage and swarming are two tactics Quinn said will be necessary in trying to slow the dynamic rookie.
And having Grady Jarrett back in the lineup can certainly help in that regard. Jarrett is one of the Falcons' most sound players in the run game and has missed the previous two games with an ankle injury.
Jarrett reiterated Quinn's comments about how swarming to Barkley is something the Falcons must do to bring him down.
"It will take a lot of guys on a consistent basis to get him down," Jarrett said of Barkley. "He's big, strong and really elusive."
The Falcons rank 24th against the run and they'll have to be stout in this area to slow Barkley and Co. as they rank No. 9 in the league in rushing yards per play.
"It starts with Saquon and you have to stop the run," Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel said of preparing for the Giants.
"He's a superb athlete. He's a combination guy because he has great contact balance, vision, speed to break runs and break arm tackles. And you factor in he can lineup at wide receiver so you have a combination you have to get ready for."