RB Saquon Barkley -- September 19, 2019
Q: What do you think about having a rookie quarterback?
A: Yeah, Daniel being named the starter, Iím happy for him. You train your whole life and work your whole life to be playing in the NFL, and itís actually going to happen for him this week. I know heís been working his butt off, extra work with film, doing a great job at practice, and listening to Eli, so Iím excited for him.
Q: Has this changed anything for you?
A: Definitely as a running back, there is a change. But for me, no, I still have to be on my pís and qís and understand the offense and be in the scheme, blitz pickups, and just try to be of as much help from what Iíve learned in my first year and from what Iíve learned being back with Eli, to help Daniel too. Heís been doing a great job at practice commanding the huddle and doing a great job of seeing the field. Iím just excited for him to go out there and actually get the chance to play in the NFL for once.
Q: Do you think youíll be even more effective now, because with Jonesí legs, the RPOs, the zone reads, now they are going to account for him. Will that open up a little bit more for you?
A: Yeah, I mean I think thatís a possibility with Jones because he can move pretty well. But at the end of the day, I think the defense is really going to play us, kind of, the same way. I think the head coach [Bruce Arians] over there made it kind of known what the game plan is for them, and thatís to stop the run. Thatís going to be the mindset of a lot of teams this year, so Iím just going to continue to try to take it one play at a time and do what I can to help my team win.
Q: Whatís your mindset, and the Bills said the same thing after the game, Bruce Arians said they are going to key in on you. Do you take that as a challenge, do you look at it as, Ďhey Iím the best running back in the league, Iím going beat you straight upí?
A: Do I take it as a challenge? No. I just understand it, itís life. Itís been like that for me through high school, college, and now in the NFL. I recognize that God blessed me with a lot of talent, put me on a great team, with a great coach, great teammates, and a great offensive line, to put me in a position to be successful. I have had a lot of success at a young age, so I know that comes with the territory. So, is it a challenge? No. I just know thatís the mindset every single week, because my mindset every single week is to do what it takes to help my team win, and I have been doing that. When itís not with the numbers, itís just continuing to be a leader. When my opportunities come, try to find a way to get in the end zone a little bit more, if I have to make that block, or if I have to make that catch to help my team, Iíll do whatever it takes.
Q: They like to blitz a lot more than most teams with Todd Bowles, they are very aggressive. When you face a blitzing team versus a team that likes to beat you straight up, how much more pressure does that put on you from the pass protection stand point and all that? Does that change at all for you?
A: No, not really changes. You just have to understand it a lot more. They are definitely a different team than they were last year when we played them. But yeah, they blitz a lot, so you have to be on your toes, understand the scheme, understand the system, what theyíre doing and what theyíre trying to do. Whether youíre in hots, or whether you have a route, or the same thing with hots. In the running game, knowing when they are blitzing, knowing where it should hit. Teams that blitz a lot, they are going to make those plays, but if you get it right and you are blocking the right way, whether thatís in the pass pro or in the running game, it leaves you opportunities to make big plays. They are going to have some shots made, they are going to make some plays, but we just have to make more plays than them.
Q: You look around the league at your contemporaries, and they are paired up with other young quarterbacks. You have (Ezekiel Elliott) Zeke and Dak (Prescott), and Gurley and Goff, how excited are you for this Barkley and Jones moment to take off?
A: Iím excited, but just more excited for him. I know everyone is making a big deal that heís the starting quarterback of New York, but I donít think you guys really understand how much effort and hard work you put in since youíre a little kid to get to this moment and get to this position. Yes, it hits you when you get drafted. Yes, it hits you when you hit preseason. But, when you actually step on that field and youíre a starting quarterback, you just kind of reflect on all of the hard work that youíve put in, and all of the adversity youíve faced. Iím really just more excited for him to go out there and get his first start. Iím going to do whatever it takes, and I know weíre all going to do whatever it takes, to try to have his first start go the way we all want it to go. Our mindset this week is winning.
Q: What advice do you give him when he goes out there and hits the field with all of that?
A: Be you. You donít have to be anybody else beside yourself. Youíre here for a reason, youíre the guy for a reason. You donít have to impress anybody else. The only people you have to impress are the people in this locker room and the people in this facility, and heís already done that. One, because they are the team that drafted him, and two, he already has all of the respect from us on this team, just from the way he carries himself as a person, with his work ethic, and you can see, even though he wasnít the starting quarterback the last two weeks, just the way how he operates. Like I said, Iím really excited for him. I just hope he goes out there, be himself, and let the plays come. There are going to be plays to be had, there is going to be adversity, but just go out there and have fun.
Q: Do you think this is the start of the future of this team? The last two top draft picks are going to be on the field together starting for the first time.
A: Yeah, I guess you could say the future. But as I said, just more excited for him getting out there and playing in the NFL. But we also understand that there is no need to panic, but we understand weíre 0-2 and we have to do things to get things going, get things rolling, and why not start it this week and go down there against Tampa against a great team, a great defense, and great defensive coaches and try to come out there with a win.
Q: Do you get the sense that the reality of this is setting in for him yet? Or has his demeanor changed at all this week?
A: I donít think it will until he actually gets out on the field. Like I said, heís been doing a great job out here in practice. But when I mean actually hits him like, Ďwow I am in the NFL,í when he gets that first play and they say hutó boom, it all goes away, just like every play. Just like how it was in college, just like how it was in high school, when you have that first time, and youíre out there after that first play it all goes away and you just get locked in.
Q: Is there any way to prepare for that?
A: No, there is no way. Like I said, I donít know if any of you guys have played in an NFL game, or played through a level to get from high school to college to the NFL, to have that dream and passion since you were a kid, itís a lot of hard work and there are a lot of things that go into it. For him to be able to experience that feeling, itís something you canít prepare for. But like I said, after the first play youíre right back into it and youíre in that mindset of letís go out here and letís go get a win.
Q: Heís obviously a different player than Eli, what do you think itís going to do to the offense? How different is it going to look?
A: I donít think itís going to look very different at all. I think weíre keeping the main thing the main thing. I donít think, even when Eli was out there, it wasnít like the quarterback position was the reason why weíre not winning games. It was all around, it was all three phases of the balló offense, defense and special teams. Especially on the offense, we werenít finishing drives. We were doing a great job of moving the ball down the field and getting to where we needed, but when we get to that third down situation, or when we get to the red zone situation, we havenít been great. You look at the great teams and the teams that are consistently good every single season, (and) they are great in situational football. I donít think the offense is really going to change that much, weíll just keep the main thing the main thing.
Q: There will be times where youíre scrambling, or moving around, youíll run more RPOs or stuff like that? Is that a possibility?
A: Yeah, RPOs (run-pass option) ó I mean we ran it with Eli. To be completely honest, RPO, it doesnít necessarily mean for the quarterback to pull it and run. Youíre reading the defender, so he can give it to you or he can still throw the ball. Multiple teams do RPO throughout the season, and throughout the NFL, thatís kind of what the NFL is going to. I donít think itís really going to be too much of a change, but yes, everybody knows heís a mobile quarterback and heís going to be able to extend plays, and heís going to be able to run if need be. Hopefully we donít have to put ourselves in that position, but if we have to do that, then hopefully heíll go out there and make some playsĖ which I believe he will.