NYG Postgame (vs. Cowboys) Transcripts: RB Saquon Barkley -- December 30, 2018
Q: What have you learned about yourself and the team as a whole throughout the season?
A: Yeah, this entire season as far as obviously the season didnít turn out the way we wanted it to be, but I learned a lot from those guys, from the vets, from my teammates and I feel like as a person, as a player, Iím definitely a better player on the field. I see the field differently and the speed of the game. I look forward to watching film of this game, watching myself from this year and figure out how to take it to another level.
Q: When you guys didnít reach your team goals, what does it mean for you to reach these historic milestones?
A: It doesnít mean so much to me. Obviously Iím not going to lie to you, itís an amazing feeling, itís awesome to accomplish those things. Thatís stuff that you dream about as a little kid, but you canít do that by yourself. Itís a team thing. When you get a record of anything, itís a team thing, so you definitely have to give credit to my offensive lineman, first and foremost, but also the quarterbacks, wide receivers and the coaching staffÖ And the tight ends.
Q: What did you see on your touchdown leap?
A: To be completely honest, right there, (I kind of knew if I just fell over I would be good?). I just tried to get into the end zone by any means necessary and thankfully I got the ball over. I got to be a little more careful there, thatís something you can learn as a rookie, understanding that you canít lose the ball in that situation. But thank God we were able to get a touchdown.
Q: Whatís it like to take off from the 4-yard line and reach the goal line?
A: You donít even notice it. I didnít even know that I took off from the four. I kind of just made up in my mind that by any means, I had to get in for my teammates. Whether itís over, under, through, that certain situation was over.
Q: What was the most challenging part of your rookie year?
A: What was the most challenging part of my rookie year? Honestly, losing. But also understanding that, if you lose a couple of games in the beginning, you canít panic, you canít panic. At one point, we were 1-7 coming into the bye week and out of nowhere, boom, we were back in it just like that. That was probably a challenge in the beginning, but something that I learned. Definitely learning from the vets, understanding itís a long season, a long grind and you just got to stick with it and stay with each other.
Q: What does it mean to you to set the rookie running back catch record and get 2,000 yards?
A: Itís an amazing feeling. Like I said, 2,000 yards, to be mentioned in the same name as Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James, itís definitely an honor and privilege, but you donít do that by yourself. To be honest, you have to give credit to your teammates and coaching staff. Without them, you donít get that 2,000 yards or however many catches it was, so definitely got to give thanks to those guys.
Q: What does it mean to the team positively or negatively to lose so many close games?
A: I think it would say that one, we have to figure out how to win those games. I think eight games were seven or under losses. Thatís something that you understand and find out in the NFL real quick as a rookie that a lot of the games are going to come down to the wire. I think one, we have to figure out as a team how to finish those games and execute in those moments, but it also shows you that some of those games, we were down. We had to fight and come back and it shows that dog mentality that we have on this team and this no-quit mentality that we have on this team. If we can keep that and figure out how to execute and finish those games, weíll be a way better team next year.
Q: You seemed very happy when Wayne (Gallman) got his touchdown. Can you talk about that?
A: Yeah, definitely. I was very happy for Wayne. I did not know that that was his first touchdown of his career. I thought that was his first one of the season, but to find out that that was the first one of his career, it makes it even more special. That guy, he works so hard. Itís not fun being a backup. I donít think any backup would get up and tell you that. But he works so hard to stay with it. He helps me when Iím on the field, heís watching, heís locked in and when heís on the field, Iím locked in. When we go to the sideline, we talk to each other, what we saw, what would we do different. Not just him, but all of my teammates. I get joy from seeing all of my teammates especially when you got a guy who would obviously be in a different position, but continue to have that mindset to work and grind through it. When you see him get honored with touchdowns, itís amazing.
Q: How surprised would you be if Eli Manning wasnít your quarterback next year?
A: I donít know, to be completely honest. The only thing I know is that he has a lot of ball left, that this team believes in him. Even though the season didnít end up how we wanted it to, we were in a lot of games, we just have to finish those games. I really canít answer that question, but all I have to say is I know Eli has a lot of ball left in him and I know we believe in him.
Q: What changed after that 1-7 start?
A: I think we figured out that you have to play for each other and believe in each other. When you go out there, you play for your teammates. You go out there and have fun like a little kid playing little league football, things just happen. Big plays happen, wins happen. I think that was the message that we had during the second half of the year. I think thatís what really helped us.
Q: What did you learn from Eli this year?
A: I learned a lot. I learned a lot from Eli. In practice this week, since I knew it was going to be our last game, I just went up to him and said thank you. I donít think I did that enough this year. I should have done it a lot more, but I just wanted to say thank you. He taught me so much. One, he taught me how to handle you guys, first and foremost. But just the way it doesnít matter, up, down, win, loss, great game, bad game, heís not going to change. He comes in with the same mentality, with the same mindset. Heís going to continue to believe in it, continue to work it. I think thatís the right recipe and the way that you should do it. Obviously itís worked for him in his career being a two-time Super Bowl champion and a two-time Super Bowl MVP.
Q: Whatís going to be your personal focus as you go into the offseason?
A: Me, I overthink a lot of things. Iím probably going to overthink everything and go back and watch film. I know Iím going to watch every single touch that I had. See what I can do better there. I had too many drops in my opinion this year. Go back to catching the ball, try to get better in that area. See what I can continue to do to get better. Understanding the game, understanding seeing the field, understanding defensive schemes and pressures of what theyíre going to do. But thatís what Iím going to do, just see how I can elevate my game to another level.
Q: Were you able to understand the protections more as the season progressed?
A: Yeah; definitely, definitely I was able to understand a lot more. I had a lot of help in college under a really good coach and I feel that I was very prepared coming in [into the NFL]. Obviously, things are disguised a little bit differently in the NFL, so I definitely credit Coach [Craig] Johnson. He helped me understand it and a lot of credit to Eli [Manning]. Heís very helpful; when you have a veteran that good and youíre back there trying to scan the field and see what is going on, heís like, ĎThis guy is comingí, it definitely helps me a lot, too. Thatís something that I have to improve on and I think thatís what you have to be able to do to be a complete running back and to be a threat at any point; weather itís blocking, catching, or running the ball.
Q: Itís always about making adjustments, like you said, from college to the pros, what would you say was the biggest adjustment that you had to make to your game?
A: I would say, I think a lot of people said coming into the draft, I donít know how to take the Ďtough runí, or I donít know how to get vertical or have balance, or that I try to do too much. I think the biggest challenge that I think I did a good job of is blocking that noise out and just staying true to who I am. Obviously, for your coach to come out and say something like that, listen to him and see how to get better, but not letting the media and all of the national attention come with it change you, and thatís a hard thing. Iím not going to sit here and lie to you, especially in nowadays age and go through your phone, you see that this person said this and this person said that, but I think that was the biggest challenge, but with the help of my family and the people that I surround myself with, my teammates and the people in the building, I think that they did a good job of helping me stay grounded and helping me understand what really matters.