Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson -- October 26, 2018
Q: Whereís Saquon (Barkley) at in his progression at this point, almost halfway through his rookie season?††
A: Heís progressing really well. He has done a very good job in all three phases, in running, pass protection and his routes, but like all rookies, he still has to get better in his running, pass protection and his routes. In the big picture, he has had good production. I think he has done a good job of being very vocal on the sidelines in his way, and I like his leadership along with his play on the field.† Like all players, thereís more out there, so weíve got to continue to work to get to that.†
Q: Against a team like Washington that only allows 87 yards rushing per game, do you have to get a little more creative with how you get him the ball in space, whether itís the passing game or different ways to get him involved?†
A: We will have a great challenge because Washington is playing very well, but I think every week that we go in, weíre going to try to find a way to put the ball in his hands, try to do what we know, always have a couple different wrinkles, and then just let the flow of the game happen. I think he has said it himself, heís had some good games of stats, he hasnít; but he is kind of where most of us are at Ė if weíre not winning, itís not good enough, so weíve got to continue to do what we need to do so we can move the ball well enough and effectively to be winners. Thatís all we really care about.††
Q: He thought he played really poorly the other day, he said that after the game. What do you say to him when thatís his own self-assessment?††
A: Iím glad that heís hard on himself. I always say for young players itís good to have a high level, anything lower than that Ė I think thatís a good thing, as long as itís not detrimental. Some young players if they donít play (well), they dwell too much on what they havenít done. I think itís just a learning process, he will continue to learn from that. Thereís a couple times I know that he thought (he) left plays on the field, but I can tell you from a lot of players that played really good games, they will always tell you they left plays on the field. Thatís just the way it goes, but the thing is, if he hasnít played to the level he wanted to play at, that he needs to just get his mind ready, which I think he will, thatís part of the process for a younger player. Youíve got to get through that, and youíve got to play at the level that you want to.††
Q: Obviously everybody knows you want to get the ball to him, which you have done a pretty good job of doing so far. What is the challenge of trying to find creative ways to do that? One of the big plays the other day was that screen, it looked like that was well-diagnosed. What is the challenge there?
A: Itís always a challenge because obviously the defense knows that weíre going to try to feature him also, so as we go through and we game plan, we just try to (think) what is our core step that weíre going to try to do, regardless of who we are playing, then again, put a couple wrinkles in, allow the time to give them something, maybe an un-scouted look. I think every offense tries to do that, and just trust for him that if we put the ball in his hands enough times, good things are going to happen. Thatís what we hope. Regardless of opponent, I think it stays that way. We have our core stuff, weíre going to have a couple wrinkles, and then not try to press about how much heís going to get it. The more he touches it, the more I think it helps us all, but we want to stay balanced as an offense. Itís not just about him.†
Q: He hasnít had a 20-carry game though, which is the number thatís tossed around for running backs. Do you not worry about that because the catches balance that out?
A: So far, thatís kind of what we have been doing with him. Obviously you like to have 20 carries Ė as a running backs coach, Iíd like to have 50 carries. Thatís exaggeration, but the truth of the matter is, if heís getting his touches, weíre happy. Obviously the more he can run, itíll be good, but the bottom line is as an offense, you like to have balance. At the end of the day, you want to stay as balanced as you can be. That helps you win the games, and thatís all that matters. If certain games weíre not as balanced and we still win, I donít think anybody cares.†
Q: As much as you scouted him and knew about him coming in here, are there any things that (Saquon) has done that have surprised you a little bit?†
A: Not getting to know him as a person and only seeing him on tape, the thing Iíve been the most happy about is he has been as a player almost everything that we have seen on tape. I had heard through rumor the person that he is, but the leadership skills that he has, he does a good job of bringing energy to the team. Thatís stuff you canít see on tape, and I think thatís been a very pleasant surprise for us. Iím not surprised, thatís part of his character.†
Q: Youíre certainly familiar with (Adrian Peterson). Have you had an opportunity to see what heís been able to do so far? I know youíre focused on what you guys are doing.
A: No, I have not seen it. I donít get a chance to cross over and see a lot of tape of what our opponents do. Iím going to give a shout out to AP, heís a tremendous, tremendous player and a tremendous person. It was good to be part of that staff. Anything that heís doing on the field is not going to surprise me.†
Q: When you were with him, there was that feeling from outside that he was maybe coming to the end. Now for him to still be doing at this pointÖ
A: No surprises. I can just say when you have an elite player like that, heís a special player. Again, Iím going to give him all the credit he deserves.††
Q: You were around him so long, what made him so special?† ††
A: I just think he plays with a great deal of energy. Heís a very explosive player, and he has great determination Ė outside the obvious of his skill set. Iíve been gone away from him for a while, but when I was there, the feeling (is) that when he touches it, nothing but good things are going to happen.† ††
Q: Against the Saints, Wayne Gallman had that fumble on the catch. Since then, two of the last three games, he doesnít have a touch, and I think he only had six total against the Eagles. What do you do with him there? He probably thinks youíre losing confidence him since that play.†
A: I can tell you and I would tell Wayne the same thing, we have not had the ball as much as weíve had sometimes, especially in the first half and we havenít been able to stay on the field, but I think Wayne Gallman has done a really good job. I feel good about him, Iíd like to get him in the game more, and I expect that he will play well when he gets back in there. Leading up to that play (fumble on the catch), he was ready to have his best game. I feel good about him.††
Q: What have you seen from (Eli Penny)? He hasnít gotten a ton of snaps, but what have you seen from him and confidence-wise putting him in the games later this season?††
A: He played a little bit more in this last game. He has done a lot of good things in practice and weíll mix him into the game plan as we see fit. He has shown a lot of good things, he has a done a good job in all three phases and he needs to continue to improve as our whole unit does. Weíve got to improve as a unit, heís got to improve as a player, but Iíve seen in all three phases heís done a really good job. Iím very excited about what he has done as a fullback in our offense.††