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Sunday Media Transcript: Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson

Eric from BBI : Admin : 7/29/2018 3:13 pm
Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson
July 29, 2018

Opening Statement: The first couple days are really good. The number one thing that Iím happy about as a running backs coach is that weíve done a good job protecting the football. Iím going to continue to emphasize that, to make sure the ball stays off the ground and were able to make some plays caching the ball and making sure of ball security because obviously that is huge for wins and losses.

Q: I bet youíre happy about the number two thing with Saquon [Barkley]?
A: He helps a lot too. He has done a really good job. As a young player he has come in and he understands the process of what itís going to be like in camp, he understands now how fast the second level and third level, the linebackers and defensive backs are and finds out that, man, those guys can really play and run too. So, heís trying to make sure heís understanding the process, knowing his matchups. I tried this move, it worked once, the second time it didnít work, I need to go to the next step.

Q: As a receiver out of the backfield, does he remind you of anybody? Have you seen somebody like Saquon like that?
A: Iím not very much into comparisons but I will say this Ė he has done a great job when he has come out of the backfield against various matchups. The first time he tried to overthink it and the second time he said Iím just going to go play and do what I need to do to try and win this matchup. Heís done a really good job and heís continued to progress as heís been here the whole offseason.

Q: There was that one play yesterday with him in the red zone where he beat Ogletree very quick. What is it about those plays that make him so successful?
A: He probably applies a lot of his running ability in that. He was able to stretch and cut like he does a lot of the time with the ball in his hand as a runner. He kind of stretched and cut off the defender in that situation and had a chance to make a play. Heís done a really good job with that and I think heís going to continue to get better.

Q: The expectations for him are so high. How do you, as his position coach, help block that out? Does he need help blocking that out? How have you seen that happen from your perspective?
A: The biggest thing is donít try to do too much every play. The people outside are going to say ďIím looking for a superstar thatís going to have explosive plays and go down the field and make all this.Ē Donít worry about that. Just handle what you get. Make sure you make a positive gain on every play. The big plays will come. When the people lift you up, youíre probably not as good as theyíre saying you are. And when you have one mistake, youíre probably not as bad as theyíre saying you are. You have to stay calm, have to make sure you understand the process and continue the little details of getting better. One of the things for all young players is, the speed of the game is fast and these guys are talented, and again to try to keep doing the repeated things, itís tough, they adjust quickly. Heís done a really good job of making sure heís trying to take his game to a new level all the time.

Q: Isnít it hard to coach a guy who can go 80 yards to the house to just take the four yards? How do you coach that?
A:† The thing that Iíve learned watching guys, when you go for big plays all the time, sometimes you get big mess-ups. So, I tell him trust yourself. If you see a hole, take it. The biggest thing is sometimes when youíre trying to get the extra yard, thatís when your ball security fundamentals arenít what they need to be and then if we have a turnover, it doesnít help if youíre getting ready to go the distance. So, a good hard three or four yard gain a lot of times will help set up an explosion play later on.

Q: I know itís early but has he had any big mess-ups so far?
A: He has little things that a position coach always has something to work on. Iím always going to make sure his fundamentals are right and try to make sure that he understands his pass protection. As a runner, you have to do three things Ė you have to be able to run it, pass protect and catch, there are always little details there for you to work on.† Thereís always going to be little variations that are going to come with each play. Each play is a play within itself but the bottom line is that heís done a very good job of understanding the while picture globally and then understanding that when this play is over its over. Thatís what you have to do as a young player, let it go and move on. If I had a great play or a not so great play, I have to be able to come back, get my composure and move onto the next play.

Q: How much did they [Penn State] ask him to protect at the college level based on what heís going to be asked to do at the NFL level?
A: Penn State really did a good job with that. He understands protections. When we went through the process before he got drafted here, we asked a lot about that and I think they really did a good job with teaching him. Like all players, when they come to the NFL, you have to have more protections, but the bottom line is that he understands the general concepts and then he has to understand what we call versus what he learned in college.

Q: Heís got that big base. That should help him stone a guy. Have you seen that on tape?
A: Iíve seen that heís physical enough to handle the process so far. He still is going to, Iím sure, what teams are going to do is test him right down the middle and find out what he can do. Thatís the process. Iím talking about how am I going to handle when the linebacker does that. So far itís been in practice and heíll take it into the game. Thatís what it is from being a young player. All young players will have to go through this.

Q: Whatís the plan for Paul Perkins?
A: Paul is on (reserve/non-football injury). What he is trying to do is he is trying to help some of the younger players out there. He understands the offense inside and out. He is a very sharp guy. He understands the process. What heíll do is heíll go up and give them little bits of information. Hey, you might want to step a little more with your right foot or left hand on your pass protection. These are really things that he has seen so I have told him, you understand the big picture and your job is to go over there and If Iím over there talking to one player, you might be over there talking to another player and saying whatís your route? Iíve allowed him to do that and that helps me. Thatís someone I trust a lot and who knows the system.

Q: How much of a rotation do you want?
A: I think that is yet to be determined. I donít want to know how far were going to go right now. Iím trying to make sure we get through preseason practice. Really, I know that sometime we will sit down and talk about who and what but at this time weíre trying to get everybody reps because everyone understands, in pro football, sometimes you have injuries and you get knocked around quite a but. Iíve always told my guys, you all better be ready to play and you all have to think and act like youíre going to be a starter and you better be ready to get on the field. Donít assume a role yet because a role has not yet been determined.

Q: When you guys picked Barkley, did you say anything to Wayne Gallman? In a different scenario where you guys pick quarterback or something else, heís the young running back everyone is talking about. So what kind of conversations did you have with Gallman?
A: I just told the guys before the draft that I was going to go along with what we had talked about as an organization. Our job is to try and get better all the time and I wouldnít be telling the truth, being in the league for a year or two, that every time you draft a person high at your position you always have to deal with that. But I have always told the guys if you are a good player and you feel good about yourself, you tell them to bring them on and help our team be better, but I know my game is good and I will be mentally and emotionally and physically ready to be able to act and play like a starter and if thereís another player that can help make our team better, thatís fine. If my role changes, thatís fine but when youíre on the field youíre expected to play like a starter and that why I hold them to that standard. I donít ever give a player in the league, ďWell I havenít got as many reps so Iím not goodĒ, that never has been okay with me. I think any back will tell you that. So he has to train like anybody on this roster because at this time anybody needs to be ready to step up and play.

Q: Do you believe in using a short yardage back? Is that a role you could see using?
A: I think that is really still something to be determined. Do I have specific roles for specific guys? I canít say that right now. Why? Because we havenít even decided whoís going to do what. Right now, at this place in the preseason, all we are trying to do is making sure our guys understand the whole concept of our offense and understand what theyíre doing so that they can play fast but not in a hurry. And then I know the time will come when we are going to decide who, what, how and when. A true role probably doesnít get determined until much later in the preseason, probably more near to the time the season starts.

Q: Tiki Barber was saying 350 touches. If you are counting receptions and carries, could you see Saquon getting to 350 touches?
A: Iím sure Saquon would hope he gets 350 touches. Again, Iím not going to speak on that. Tiki is a tremendous back. Heís right about a lot. Iíll say this for sure about him, there isnít a back I know that doesnít want to touch the ball. The backs have to understand that the receivers want to touch the ball; tight ends want to touch the ball. As a back, if you donít want to touch the ball, you shouldnít be in my room. But, how much heís going to play, how many touches he will get at the end of the year, I think that discussion is for a later time. Again, I hope that a Saquon or any player for us is going to say I want to be the guy and I want to go out there and touch the ball a lot to show you what I can do.

Q: What makes him so good as a receiver? Is it instinctive stuff? Is it hands? Routes? What is it?
A: Yes. Heís pretty strong at most of them. Thatís why I think heís gotten a lot of attention that has come towards him. Obviously, he has been good as a runner and has done a good job with pass protection and heís also done a good job catching the ball but as I keep on saying, continue to raise your level, of which I think heís done a great job. He is critical, to a good point. Right now, if he doesnít do something exactly right and I think that a good way to handle disappointment and if the play isnít perfect, how to as a young player handle that. So, bury it, that last play is over, thereís nothing I can do to get it back and move onto the next play. Heís done a really good job with all three phases right now but he has to continue to get better.

Q: John Mara has said heís the most hyped rookie the Giants have ever had. How do you balance between, heís a rookie, pumping him up and keeping him confident and seeing signs of maybe, ďI have to Ďbreakí this young guyĒ?
A: I hold him accountable like everyone else in the room. You treat him the same. If he does a good job, I will hype him up. If he doesnít, Iíll tell him letís get to the details and that way, I think any player would want to be coached that way. I think that most players want to get better. They want a coach to bring out the best in them. So I am going to continue to do that. Heís done it and heíll come back and tell me I didnít do so well there, I can do better, what do you think about that one? I have told him; in general, my coaching style is if Iím not saying a lot to you, thatís probably pretty good. As Iíve done a couple of times, when Iím talking to you a lot, thatís probably not so good so just make sure you understand how in the big picture can this help me get better?

Q: How much does it benefit him having a fullback, something they never did in his college career? How does that benefit him or change his running style or help you guys?
A: Obviously, having a fullback in the backfield is a little bit different for him but in the big picture, whether he has a lead back or doesnít have a lead back, his rules and his keys and where heís going to go on each play really doesnít change. I think heíll get used to it. Itís like that with or without a lead back, itís still a matter of timing for each play. Our plays can be run with a fullback and can be run without a fullback and he still has to make sure he processes the same reads to do what he needs to do.
QUOTE: The biggest thing is donít try to do too much every play. ¬†
KeoweeFan : 7/29/2018 4:55 pm : link
Great to hear that from the coach!

This was the one criticism from scouts about his college career. It was understandable that Barkley felt he had to carry the Penn State offense on his back, but it wouldn't work in the pros.

Since he was drafted I was hoping someone would ask Saquan about that in an interview; but it's better his position coach emphasises this.
Almost the whole interview centered  
TMS : 7/29/2018 5:11 pm : link
on Barkley guess we will have get used to this . So will the rest of the RBs.
RE: Almost the whole interview centered  
Ten Ton Hammer : 7/30/2018 12:17 am : link
In comment 14024673 TMS said:
on Barkley guess we will have get used to this . So will the rest of the RBs.

At least they asked about Gallman. Considering the horrible state of the OL last year, he did about as good as you could possibly expect, and now he'll probably have to wait until his next contract to aim for a starting job. I think he's got a future in the league.
Barkley needs a backup  
armstead98 : 7/30/2018 8:26 am : link
Gallman can be that guy. Stewart isn't a lock.
Interesting question about Paul Perkins too  
mfsd : 7/30/2018 8:32 am : link
Especially that Johnson said Perkins knows the offense inside and out and is helping the younger players.

Considering this is essentially a new offense for the Giants under Schurmer, makes me think Schurmerís doingís good job teaching it, and good for Perkins to be there contributing despite not having a chance to play
Gallman is talented and improving , getting bigger as well  
TMS : 7/30/2018 10:22 am : link
Stewart, brought here to be the starter, before the draft by DG is now a third string short yardage back. Talk about a position being impacted after a draft.
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