RB Saquon Barkley -- November 7, 2019
Q: How close do you feel like you are back to your old self?
A: I feel like how Iím supposed to feel right now. Itís week whatever in the NFL, everyoneís a little banged up, everyoneís a little sore. Youíve just got to suck it up and fight through it. Iím just going to continue to fight through what Iíve been going through, I guess you could say, and just try to get better and try to help my team win.
Q: Is this stuff holding you back in any significant way do you think?
A: No, I donít think so. I donít think itís holding me back. Itís obvious I had an ankle injury, but it would be easy for me to sit here and make an excuse of why this and why that, but thatís not what Iím going to do. Iím just going to find a way to get better, find a way to help the team get better, find a way to be more efficient in the run game and help our team win games.
Q: I know you have different ways to measure your productivity, whether itís touchdowns, yards, winsówins, of course, most important. In that regard, has this season been a disappointment for you?
A: Disappointment? No. Whatís to be disappointed about? Obviously, yes, am I upset that weíre 2-7? I donít think anyoneís happy that weíre 2-7. Am I happy that I hurt my ankle and I missed three and a half games this year? No, Iím not happy about that. But, disappointing? No. I get to come in and play the sport that I love and play for an amazing organization, so Iím not disappointed at all. Weíve just got to find a way to get better, find a way to fight through it, and when we do flip the script, thereís definitely going to be great things ahead, I believe.
Q: How would you critique yourself in the two games that youíve been back?
A: Just got to be better. Even if I ran for 200 yards, Iím always going to say thereís somewhere you could be better, youíve got to find a way to be better. I could be more efficient in the run, better in the pass game, better all around, better leader. I always can improve. Especially, itís easier to just pick out the little things when youíre losing, but youíve still got to be the same way when youíre winning games. Then, itís easy to pick out the things you need to be better on when youíre having bad games, but even when youíre having great games, youíve still got to be as hard on yourself the same. So, just be better overall.
Q: It looks like youíve had tough sledding in the run game maybe. Do you want the ball more in the passing game? Do you feel like you could handle more in the passing game, in terms of getting the ball in open space and being more involved in that way?
A: When the running gameís not going well, the way I look at it is donít panic. Whether itís youíre going through a slump, whether itís a game youíre going through a slump, whether itís multiple games, the way I believe in myself and believe in the offensive line that weíre going to get it going, weíre going to figure it out. As of right now, Iíve just got to give credit to the defenses weíve been playing. Theyíve been doing a really good job within the run game. But we still havenít been putting ourselves in positions to win games, and no matter whether the run game is doing great or not doing so great, weíve still got to figure out how to win games. But to fix the run game, as a leader, and as the running back, Iíve got to take responsibility of that and find a way to do it.
Q: A year ago at this time, I think there was a really concerted effort for you to just get more downhill and be decisive. Is that something you feel like you need to get back to a little bit?
A: It depends. It depends who you play, with the defense that youíre playing. Yes, you always can say, the answer can always be, be downhill and hit it more. That always can be the way. But then there are some people where you just run into walls, you run into the back of your offensive linemen, and thatís not the way to do it all the time. You have to understand who youíre playing. I think a team like Dallas, they were slanting and doing a lot of things up front to get penetration, straight penetration, so you can stop the feet of the running back or, in that case, for me. So, in a situation like there, youíve got to be patient, youíve got to find holes, and they did a really good job. Thatís for every team. Any running back, sometimes there are just certain plays where youíve just got to be downhill and have that mentality. Thereís also got to be plays where you have to be hesitantóhesitant is not even the wordóit may seem hesitant to other people, but sometimes youíve got to be that back and set up your blocks and put your blockers in position for you to create yards down the field. But the best thing that I think the mindset for me, like you said, last year would be like, ďOkay, I know I have to do this, down more.Ē This year itís just reflect on yourself. Go back and just watch a lot of film on myself, how I was in the first two games, where we were a top-eight, a top-whatever rushing team, to the last two or three games where the rushing game hasnít been going as well as we would like. Just reflect on myself and see how I can help the offensive line and see how I can help just the run game as a whole. When youíve got a good run game going, the offense is probably executing at a high level, and weíve got to get back to that.
Q: Are teams defending you any differently, stacking the box a little more, or maybe seeing different looks than last year your first time through the league?
A: Itís not different looks. It is what it is. What I see is the same thing they were doing last year that theyíre doing this year. When you have a good back, take myself out of the situation, when you go against a good back, a way you stop them or slow them down is by trying to stop his feet, not getting them going downhill. Thatís what teams are doing, when youíve got gap scheme runs, a lot of ways runs are designed, you want to get to that open defender, and sometimes that open defender is a cornerback or a DB, and what DBs are doing, theyíll fly down, or a cornerback will fly down and try to create space. When youíve got a guy whoís very good in spaceóonce again, take me out of it, just talking about running backs in generalóthereís a way that you try to stop it. Thereís things that I know is going to happen, but once again, in the run game, youíve got to take what they give you. But when opportunities come, youíve got to make them pay for it and thatís what I havenít been doing recently and I have to get back to that.
Q: What percent healthy do you think youíre at right now?
A: Whatever percent healthy is to be healthy to play. You canít put a percent on anybody, not on myself. I canít sit here and say Iím on this percent. Thatís not fair to myself, thatís not fair to my teammates and my coaches. Weíre all in week 10 of the season, everyoneís got some nicks and bruises and theyíre all grinding through it, and I know my teammates are going to do that and Iím going to do the same thing for them.
Q: Finishing drives with touchdowns instead of field goalsóis that a mindset with the offense right now?
A: Itís not a mindset of the offense right now, itís every game. Thatís something that we write down on our objectives as an offense every week, finishing drives. Last week, thatís what Dallas did a really good job of. We had the pick, we still came away with points, you always want to come away with pointsóany time you can get points on the board, it can helpóbut as an offense, we have to take it upon ourselves to find a way to get seven. I had a screen that was called perfectly, blocked up perfectly, I have to find a way to get into the end zone. But I didnít. We go into inside the 10, inside the 15, and only got three points out of it. Those are the types of plays where it can change the mood and change the outcome of the game. At the end of the day, we got three points, but weíve still got to be better, and I think thatís where weíve got to be better as a team, just play better complementary football as a whole. When the defense is playing at a high level, we have to be playing at a high level. We canít be slacking when theyíre playing at a high level, and same thing with special teams. All three of us have got to play at a high level together, and thatís how you win football games.
Q: Five straight losses, youíre playing the Jets, that matters to the people upstairs. How important does that make this game?
A: I donít think it matters to just the people upstairs. I think it just matters to everyone, especially fans. For us, personally, it matters just because itís the next game on the schedule. Itís another opportunity for us to get better and go out there and get a win. Yes, I guess there is some, not saying bad blood, but we both play in the same stadium, weíre both New York teams, New Jersey teams, whatever you want to call it. Some people might see it in that direction, but how I was always taught and how I was always focused on when youíre coming up against games like this, is treat it like another game. Itís another game on our schedule that weíve got to find a way to win.
Q: Howís your dad going to handle this game?
A: Itís kind of weird because he has a Jets tattoo, so even if he wears a Saquon Barkley jersey, heís still repping the Jets. But, if you ever met my dad, you know my dad, heís been a Jets fan his whole life, so is he going to root for the Jets? Yes, but heís going to root for the Giants and his son at the same time. So, he gets the best of both worlds. Watch his team that he grew up rooting for and get to watch his son live his dream.
Q: How do you root for both teams at the same time?
A: Thatís hard, right?
Q: Youíre saying he actually roots for the Jets to win?
A: No, not to win. To win is for us, but I think what he said, he probably, I think, is going to wear a Jets jersey. Thatís going to be an interesting one, but I gave it to him because itís a Joe Namath jersey. I think I got him that jersey actually, the Joe Namath one. But at the end of the day, I knew this situation was going to come up one day, but Iím happy for him. I was a Jets fan growing up, too, so itís fun. Itís going to be a little fun competition in the Barkley house.
Q: Whatís your level of respect for LeíVeon Bell?
A: LeíVeon, thatís my guy. Heís a heck of a player. Just the way he sees the field, the way he sees the game, the way he can catch the ball out of the backfield, block, set up his blocks, he epitomizes what a running back, how youíre supposed to set up blocks. Some people may call his running style hesitant, but no. Itís called patience, itís called setting up the blocks and putting himself in a position to be more successful. Iíve been a big fan of him since I was in college and itís going to be fun to be able to watch him live, and I wish nothing but the best for him.
Q: Just because youíre the only one in this group with the means to do it, when you say you got him a Joe Namath jersey, you mean a replica or an actual one?
A: A replica. I got it before I was in the NFL (laughter). I wish, though. If I got a real Joe Namath jersey, I donít think my dad would be getting it, that one would be going in my house.