Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: How much are you looking forward to this offseason and just getting back to a regular offseason? Obviously, you didn't have that last year, you were rehabbing all the way up to training camp.
A: Obviously, we've got to take care of business this week. That's what's the most important thing is right now, finishing off on a high note. Only one more opportunity with this group of men in this building, so finish off on a high note. But I do believe the offseason definitely is going to be helpful for me, just coming off an ACL, having to rehab and getting ready for the season. Now I can get back to the training and how I want to train and get my body in shape to get my body ready for a 17-game season and then some. Not saying I'm looking forward to it, but I know how helpful it's going to be for my body and for the rest of my career.
Q: I don't want to put words in your mouth, but were you surprised by how exhausting the process was to come back from the ACL and to do it right up against the season like that?
A: No, I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I prepared myself for this, even though I couldn't train the way I wanted to train last offseason. I attacked rehab, I tried to attack it to come back even better. Obviously, there were some things that are just out of your control that happened throughout the season that kind of pushes you back, a little adversity. You can't plan for that, but I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I'm just thankful that I'm still here, I'm still able to play the game that I love. I know that the ACL and the tough times through this year that that adversity will help mold me and build me into the man and the player that I'm going to be in the future.
Q: I'm curious, you've had two head coaches, two running back coaches, four offensive line coaches, which obviously plays into what you do, three offensive coordinators. How much does that constant change affect players? I'm not just talking about (Head Coach) Joe (Judge), I'm talking about the assistant coaches. How much does constant coaching staff change affect productivity and development and all those kinds of things?
A: You can't go into that situation looking at it like that. You only can control what you can control. In this game, we get paid to go out there and play football, but like you said, there have been a couple changes these last four or five years or whatever and different coaches not just for myself, but for a lot of players in this building. Is that a big difference? I don't know. For me, like I said, my mindset – everyone attacks it differently, but my mindset is control what you can control, whatever it is, go out there and go to work. I would say through that you get to meet a lot of different personalities, be coached by a lot of different coaches, grab a little bit from everyone and improve your game, but it does impact a little bit, to be completely honest, just as players. But it's all about how you attack it, it's all about your approach with it. I think my mindset is just control what you can control and that's going out there every single day and trying to get better, and take coaching, listen to the details, and try to improve as a player.
Q: You were in this spot two years ago where late in the season – you've probably been asked this exact question – do you feel like you guys are playing to save some of your coaches' jobs? Like a win, a dominant performance, improvement could save some jobs? You were probably asked that in 2019. Do you carry that, or do you not worry about that?
A: You can't look at it like that. To be honest, the only point of view that I can speak from is a player's point of view. All of that decision-making and stuff like that is out of our control. We don't make those decisions. We get paid to go out there and play the sport that we love. That's the mindset that we've got to have to be professionals, to go out there knowing that we only have one more opportunity left as a team, try to go out there and finish strong with a win just so we can for ourselves. Like I said, you can't really worry about that too much or having that mindset too much. You've got to control what you can control and that's how you go out there, in your effort and how you play.
Q: You talked after the game, but what did you make of all the criticism that your coach, Joe Judge, took for the emotional things that he said after the game? Do you think it's deserved? Do you think he flew off the handle? Are you proud that he said it? What's your reaction as a player?
A: To be completely honest, I'm not really aware of the criticism that came behind it. Like you said, I talked right after him. He got up there – Coach is a passionate coach. He said things that he felt and that he believed in, and that a lot of players in the locker room believe in, too. What I took from it was the message that this place is going in the right direction. It may not look like it right now from the outside looking in, but internally we know what we have here, we know what we're doing in the locker room, meaning the characters that we have, the personalities that we have, the work ethic that we have. Sometimes, it doesn't automatically transfer to the football field, but like I said after I talked after him, I believe it's the only way I know how to get stuff done, how to improve and how to get better is to continue to work and continue to trust the process. Obviously, we know it's frustrating as players. Obviously, we know fans get upset when we go out there and we lose or lose by a large amount of numbers, for players too it's frustrating. You've got to keep your head down and you've got to keep working and have belief and have faith. That's the message that I took from it. I don't know the criticism that came behind it. I try my best to stay out of the media, stay out of 'he said, she said' things. Obviously, I'm active with social media, so some stuff comes to my attention, but this week that hasn't come to my attention. But the message I got from it was the belief that he has in this locker room, the belief that the has internally and I think all the players would come out and agree with that.
Q: Looking back throughout the entire year on overcoming this injury, do you feel like the Giants made it harder for you to get on the field in the sense that the medical restrictions were such that they weren't going to force you to get out there before you were ready?
A: No. I don't look at it like that at all, to be honest. I can't speak for other places, I've only been here. One thing that I can wholeheartedly say is that we have an amazing training staff, amazing medical staff, amazing everything in this building. When you first come here and you're not hurt, you don't get to spend that much time with everyone in the training room. You only go in there for prehab and make sure you don't get hurt, but I've had to spend a lot of quality time with a lot of those guys in that training room. They're unbelievable people and helped me as much as they can to get me back on the football field. There were a lot of challenges that came throughout the way with camp, with the passing of my great aunt, with joint practices, how comfortable do you feel going out there against another team, so there were some delays in there, but the medical staff did nothing but help me and prepare me to get me ready for the season. Even when adversity hit with the ankle, to prepare my body and get me out there as quick as I can and as healthy as I can to go out there and be able to produce.
Q: I wonder how you would describe this season for yourself. Also, in your mind, is it just a matter of you being healthy for you to get back to the player that you were and that you want to be?
A: No, I don't think so. My mind is just going out there, producing, continuing to play the sport that I love. When you have an ankle injury like I said before previously, it's something that's just going to nag. I had probably one of my better games in recent time last week and it wasn't like the ankle just went away. It was something that I was able to get a flow in the game. O-line did an amazing job opening holes and I was able to get back in a rhythm. There has just been so much – I hate talking about this to be completely honest because anytime I kind of talk and defend myself it sounds like I'm just making up excuses. I never want to be viewed as that person or that type of player. That's not my motto, making excuses, but there have just been a lot of uphill battles, a lot of adversities that came throughout the season and you've just got to take your punches and roll with it. For me, getting back to that player – you're never going to be 100 percent healthy. You don't even come to the first game 100 percent healthy to be honest because you've got the grind and wear and tear of camp. Every week, everybody is battling something new. There are going to be more battles I'm going to have to face and hopefully it's nothing season-ending or anything that I would have to sit out for multiple weeks, but for me it's just getting out there, getting in a rhythm, going back to just being confident, just getting back there and believe that every time I'm back there that I'm him. That's what I'm getting back to and that's what I feel like I got back to last week, and I'm going to continue to go through the rest of my career.