RB Saquon Barkley -- November 21, 2019
Q: How do you feel?
A: Bye week happening is always good because we got a little bit of time off, not just physically, but mentally. Obviously, your mind is still on football, but you spend some time with your family (inaudible). Itís time to get back, weíve only got six weeks left on the schedule, and try to finish up the season strong.
Q: How much fresher do you feel, though? How much better does the ankle feel?
A: Realistically, itís only four days off that we had, probably four or five days off.
Q: But two weeks in-between games, thatís two weeks without taking hits.
A: Yeah, taking the hits is probably the best part to make you feel better, but yeah, I guess you could say everybody probably feels a little bit better when you get that little bit of time off. This is more just refreshing that Iím just happy to be back in the building, happy to be back to work, and Iím ready to get this thing rolling.
Q: You havenít been as involved in the passing game as much this year. Why do you think thatís been?
A: I mean, we call the plays. We call the plays to go to me, and itís just like a choice route, but sometimes itís man, sometimes itís man and we went inside, but you have to hold players to the inside, sometimes youíre bracketed, sometimes youíre zone and weíre just throwing a check down, or sometimes we catch them in man and I catch it like I did against the Detroit Lions and I catch it and I keep my feet and that probably wouldíve been a touchdown, but even still we had like a 40-yard gain. But I donít think itís so much of just not being designed, or Iím not being active in design or put into the game plan to getting the ball in the air, itís just sometimes how they play it and how they scheme it, itís not there. But like I said, Iím going to continue to work and continue to get better at it and still try to get better at my routes, so when an opportunity does come and we catch them at the right moment, we capitalize on it.
Q: One of the things that Daniel (Jones) does that people praise him for is he keeps his eyes down the field, and because of that, maybe heís checking the ball down less. Do you see that as maybe a symptom of--
A: I mean, where do you win in that situation? When Eli (Manning) was our quarterback, I was getting the ball Ďtoo much,í but everybody was saying ĎOh, he throws check downs too much,í so now that weíre not throwing enough check downs, ĎOh, heís looking down the field too much?í Me, personally, I donít ever want to get in his way. Daniel Jones is a great player, a great quarterback, and is going to be a better player as time continues to go on, and heíll be one of the best in the league, I believe. But thatís more coaching. Check downs, as always, are a safety valve for a quarterback, but be you. If you, in college weíd just say they dig it, the deep ball, they dig the deep ball, be you. Go out and play the game, however youíve been doing it, youíve been awesome so far, and hey, Iím going to be there for you when you need me to be there. But play your game and letís go out here and win some games.
Q: What did you do over the bye week? Did you just get away from football, did you watch film, or what?
A: I watched film, definitely. I just broke down myself, watched myself, what I can do better, how I can help the team do better. Thatís kind of the question that Coach (Shurmur) kind of challenged us to do, is weíre talking about everyone is saying, ĎHate to lose,í or, ĎLove to win, hate to lose,í I forgot how he put it, but he said the question would be, ĎWhat can you do as an individual to help your team win?í Thatís what my major focus has been on.
Q: What did you see?
A: You see a lot. You see where I can do better at, and I guess itís a clichť answer, but itís how I truly feel, no matter if my numbers were higher than last year or higher than they are now, I can improve on every single thing. I want to be a better pass blocker, I want to be better at catching the ball out of the backfield, in-between, outside the tackles, literally all in all. I want to be one of the best players in the league one day, if not the best player in the league one day, I want to have that status, and I know that comes with the mindset of getting better every single day and putting your team first. So, I know I have to work on my little things for that to happen.
Q: When youíre a guy whoís lost a lot of games, going all the way back to high school, how do you guard against getting too frustrated or maybe pressing too much, trying to make something happen in a game?
A: Thatís what I felt like watching film. I saw I kind of, I thinkóIím not going to say you guysóbut I allowed, I donít know what it was, for me not to be me. I donít care, thatís who I am, and thatís getting back to this week. Iím just going to go out there and ball and have fun and go out there with my brothers, and whatever happens, happens. Iím not going to be worried about if heís hitting it too much or if heís not doing this or doing that. The reason I got drafted here is the reason Iím one of the best running backs in the league, and Iím just going to go out there and play and do what I do.
Q: Did you feel like you were pressing too much those first 10 games or so and trying to do too much?
A: I mean, no, because I think thereís times where I did too less, where, say if a guy got beat quick, I would just take what they give me. I would just, not go down with ease, but just be more focused on securing the ball and live for another down, where thereís times I can make that play and make someone miss and do what I do best. So, Iím not worried about pressing it, Iím not worried about not doing too much or doing too much, Iím worried about going back and playing how I know how to play, how Iíve been playing my whole life since I was a little kid. Thatís the message that my dad told me since I was a little kid. People tried to change my running style in high school and middle school, thereís always someone. So, Iím just going to go out there and have fun, and thatís the biggest thing. Have fun, be a little kid, and just try to ball out for my brothers.
Q: Why do you feel you got away from that?
A: I donít know, thatís a good question. Thatís a good question, and if I do know the answer, thatís for me to know and not for you guys to know. Thatís for my family to know. But I watched film on myself and Iím just going to go back to trying to have fun and play ball. I look at it like this, no matter what it is, 2-8, 8-2, great season individually or not, whether I missed some games or not, at the end of the day, Iím living the dream, Iím playing the game I love. There are so many people that would love to be in this position that Iím in, so Iím going to take advantage of it and have fun with it.
Q: How do you study your pass protection? What do you see that you can do better? What do you see as the reasons why itís not up to par for you?
A: Itís a fine line. One, youíve got to understand the defender that youíre going against. Some people are versatile, like a Jamal Adams, heís a guy who can switch it up, he can bull rush, he can swim move you, he knows how to use your momentum. But there are some guys who are just straight bull rushers, some guys who arenít going to focus on you, theyíre trying to focus on containing the quarterback in the pocket. But the biggest thing that I have to focus on is hands. Just use my hands and time it at the right time, and not duck my head. Thatís the biggest thing. Squat down, angle down, use my hands. I got beat a couple times this year, but itís how you learn from it, how you move on from it, and I watch film on it, put it in the past, and Iím going to get better.
Q: Coming off the last game, people always say about the bye, if you win the game itís great, youíve got two weeks to be happy, if you lose the game, two weeks. Coming off, for yourself, that game you had against the Jets, and the whole team, the numbers Iím sure are something you thought youíd never see. Does that stew in you, and will you take that onto the field with you in Chicago? Or will you put it away?
A: Put it away. It was one of those games where you watch the film and you just put it away. I did research and I was like, ĎI have to be the first back ever to have a game like that.í Then, I did research, and Iím not trying to put myself on that level and compare myself to that person, but Barry Sanders had a game where he had 16 carries and zero yards against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs. I donít think that stopped him from having a great career. If anything, I would think it pushed him and motivated him to be better. So, is it motivating me to be better for this next game? No, but thereís going to be times when youíre in a funk. Thereís going to be times when things arenít going your way. Obviously, I would love to make it go my way, I would love to have 13 carries and 300 yards, trust me. But Iím not going to get down on myself. The type of player I want to be, the type of leader I want to be, Iím not going to let that affect me. I think about the people who I admire who had games, whether its basketball, LeBron or Kobe, theyíve probably been in a shooting funk before, but you learn from it and you get better at it. So, thatís the type of player I want to be, and thatís what Iím going to do.
Q: You talked about getting back to being yourself on the field. Have we seen that this year yet?
A: Yeah, me personally, I think so. I think you have, Iíve just got to be more consistent. I was having a conversation with him, actually, and Kim (Jones) the other day and people were like, ĎOh, sit him out. Sit him out one.í Thatís absurd to me, that doesnít even make any sense. But when people were like, ĎSit him out, he doesnít even look the same,í like, if you guys really want to, we could sit down and I could show you clips where boom, like youíd be like, ĎOh, thatís the same guy we saw last year.í Itís the NFL, people adapt, coaches scheme. Iíve heard coaches come up to me after games and they literally could tell you what the game plan was, but at the same time, even though I might not be having as much success, offensively wise, we lost to the Jets, 34-27. I let up one touchdown, Iíve got to stop that, but weíve still put up a lot of points on the offensive side. So, weíve just got to figure out how to turn those into a game.
Q: You mentioned at times in your life talking to family about not letting people change who you are, your running style. Are you talking about returning to the guy who can take it to the end zone on any given play? Like looking for that extra angle, looking for that big play that changes the game, that youíre not doing that enough? Is that what you mean?
A: I wouldnít say Iím not doing that enough but going back to just having fun. Thatís mostly what I want to do. When I say go back to being the guy who I am, thatís who I am. Have fun. When I score a touchdown run, celebrate with my teammates. Be that guy on the sideline, be vocal. Thatís all it is, just go back and have fun and spend good time with your teammates, as you can see with Sterling Shepard telling me to wrap it up.
Q: Is it as simple as taking what the game gives you?
A: Yeah, taking what the game gives you, but what youíve also go to understand is, if thatís the case, if I take what the defense gives me, then the defense is on ball and doing a really good job and Iím just taking what they give me, then Iím probably not trying. I feel like Iím not trying. Thatís the biggest thing really that I want to get to. Even though, yes, the defense is going to make plays, itís the NFL, but sometimes I can make that person miss or make two guys miss and it might be so simple as making two guys miss and getting a five-yard gain. It might be so simple as, Iím not saying make a guy miss and go 70 yards, it could be so simple as just not getting tackled in the backfield, getting back to the line of scrimmage, or getting above the sticks to keep the sticks moving and put us in better field position. Thatís what Iím going to try to do.
Q: Are you going to jump over anyone again?
A: I havenít jumped over a guy this year. I donít know if this week, but Iíve got a couple more games to get that done.
Q: It happened to be against this team, thatís why I said it.
A: It was (Adrian) Amos, heís not there, heís in Green Bay. Heís my dog, but I havenít heard of someone this week. Yeah, Iím going to go back to having fun. Thatís all it is. Like Iím saying, Iím just going to be taking advantage of the opportunity, Iím blessed. God blessed me to be in a position of living my dream, and Iím going to take advantage of it.
Q: What about the challenge of this Bears linebacker corps?
A: I was about to say, you havenít asked me anything about the Bears. Theyíre the Bears. Thatís really the only thing I can say. They are elite. Theyíre stacked in every single category, linebackers, the front five, they play a 3-4 but itís really like five guys on the line, the back end with Eddie Jackson, heís tremendous. (Ha Ha) Clinton-Dix is tremendous. (Leonard) Floyd, all those guys can probably be Pro Bowl players. So, thatís always a challenge to go up against those guys. I remember last year when I went up against those guys, they made it clear and known within the first two series that they want my best, so I know they expect it, and I expect their best, too.