Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: I asked you the other day about what it would mean to you to make the playoffs. You said it's everyone's dream to make the playoffs in the NFL, so I'm wondering what do you think now, afterwards, that you actually made the playoffs and how special is that to you knowing what you guys went through the last couple of years?
A: Yeah, it's real special. It's a huge accomplishment. You've got to give credit to all the guys—from OTAs, coming in every single day with the right mindset, with the right work ethic. I've got to give credit to the coaches. And it's a beautiful thing. I mean no one, let's be honest, no one besides the men and women in that facility gave us a chance to accomplish this and we just stuck to the script, kept believing in each other and gave ourselves the opportunity and we did it. But at the end of the day, we've still got next week to get ready for and you want to make it to the playoffs, but it's not like when you're making the playoffs it's not like you've won the Super Bowl. You give yourself a chance to compete for a Super Bowl, so it's just another step ahead and we've just got to keep working.
Q: You've been in a lot of games here. Did this one feel different from start to finish? I mean it was a rout first of all, and it was like a party, and where the fan were, did it feel like you hadn't really experienced this before?
A: Yeah, it was fun. You could feel the energy just driving here from the fans. We challenged the fans—the coaches, the captains, the team—and they showed up. They showed up, man. They were loud, made a lot of noise and created the energy that we needed and we were able to win the game because of them.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about (Giants QB) Daniel Jones?
A: I mean, I feel like I've been saying it all year. He's a heck of a player, heck of a quarterback. I think it really showed, not just today, but the whole season and I'm just happy for him. Hearing his name getting chanted—it's a beautiful thing and you can finally see he's starting to get the respect that he earns. I know everyone wanted to be a big critic of him and say this and say that, but he gave us the opportunity to play playoff football and he locked it in today. When we needed him most he came up and made big plays.
Q: Have you ever seen him play better than today for a full game?
A: Uh, nah, he was ballin'. (Laughs). He was ballin' today. I think—what was the one, his rookie year he went stupid too? He threw like five touchdowns against…
Q: Washington (12/22/2019).
A: Washington, right? But yeah, just the whole season, like there's so many critical plays. So many moments where he stepped up and was big for us and gave us the opportunity. And you know what, we're going to need it. We're going to need a couple more of that down the stretch.
Q: It looked like you were the first one to greet him as he came off the field. What did you say to him?
A: I told him, "I love you." I think that was a cool moment. Hearing his name be chanted. I know it's been a tough couple years here and since I've been drafted or before I got drafted or since he's been drafted, but it's just cool to see he's finally getting the respect that he earns because that guy, he works his tail off. I think I said it to one of you guys earlier, he's the toughest quarterback in the league. He'll do whatever it takes to help the team win football games. He comes to work every single day with that mentality and I'm just happy for him.
Q: What does it mean to you to get a career high in yards with some difficult things those early years in terms of injuries? You might not be your best in every category, but you're best in yards. What does that mean to you?
A: I really don't focus too much on the numbers. My goal this offseason was to get back to myself. I think everyone gets caught up in the numbers and gets caught up in the stats. I think stats are a beautiful thing, but I don't distinguish stats like, oh who's this and who's that? I think it's when you turn on film, you can see how talented a guy was and I wanted to show the Giants organization that the guy that they drafted is still here and I think if you turn on the film from last year and you turn on the film from this year, whether I had better stats or I don't, you can just tell there's a big difference.
Q: Is there a toughness to this team that has kind of been developed this year that kind of showed itself today, especially when they got a couple shots against Daniel and it seemed like a bunch of you guys were right out there immediately to kind of stand up for him and stand up really for all you guys.
A: It's been like that all year. We're a really good, good group of guys that care about each other and will do whatever it takes to help each other win and have got each other's back. It's been like that since camp. I think we got into a brawl in camp earlier or late in camp. If we would fight each other, we'll fight anybody, you know what I mean? And that's the mindset that you've got to have, especially going down the stretch and going against a tough team like Philly and into the playoffs and that's what helped us. That's what helped us the whole year. Just leaning on each other, trusting each other, never wavering, and that's what we're going to continue to need.
Q: Talk about (Giants Head Coach Brian) Dabs (Daboll). What's it like playing for him and how he's galvanized this locker room throughout the course of the year and now into the playoffs?
A: I mean I don't think he gets enough respect of how competitive he is. He always talks about competitive stamina, competitive mindset, and it kind of starts with your coach. It kind of started week one when we scored a touchdown and you go for two. I think it starts there. It shows the trust that he has in us, the belief that he has in us. And when a guy like that is your head coach, showing him that as a player you don't want to go out there and let him down, you want to enhance your level of play. And he's been doing that all year from start to finish—from once he came in, just the energy he was able to bring to the facility, not only him, but (General Manger) Joe (Schoen) too, all the coaches, they've been doing a phenomenal job and I think the players are feeding off that.
Q: Coach of the Year?
A: I think so.
Q: Do you feel like you are a dangerous playoff team and if so, why?
A: Do I feel like we're a dangerous playoff team? I think it's the playoffs, anything can happen. You have to take it one play at a time and one game at a time. You get one shot. You win, you go on. You lose, you go home.
Q: Do you feel like you're a hot team right now?
A: Yeah. I think we're clicking at the right moment, giving ourselves a great chance. And to go back to your question, I think we're a team that has shown that no matter what, down by 10, down by 17, we're going to fight and that's a scary team to go against that will never go away.
Q: When your quarterback leads the way that (QB) Daniel (Jones) did and his willingness to take those kinds of hits. What kind of impact does that have on the team?
A: I think he should get down a little bit more (laughs). He kind of got a little stiff arm in today too, he put buddy to the ground and someone else made the tackle. But it just shows he's willing to do whatever it takes. I can sit here and I can speak on that but you can go and watch it on Sundays. You guys don't see it, but I get here pretty early and every single time I get here early, there's a car that is going to be here before me and it's (Quarterback) Daniel Jones. He's the first one in and last one to leave. He really lives that mentality. He has that mentality and he is tough. He's a heck of a player, a heck of a guy, a heck of a teammate and he's our captain, our leader. When you have that guy at the quarterback position, you believe you can win any game.
Q: He's (QB Daniel Jones) hard to get a read on, did you sense that he enjoyed that moment?
A: For sure. He really doesn't show it but we're human. At the end of the day, I don't want to speak for him but he heard what everybody had to say. He heard what you guys said about him in this room. Everyone loves that. It's not like his feelings or ego. He went out there and he got the respect of the fans. Not just anyone gets a chant in the stadium. It shows the respect that he earned and he went out there and played lights out in a game that we needed him to.
Q: While the season is not over, when you think of the identity of the team now versus when you started training camp with a new coach, new administration, a lot of new players. Do you feel as though you are meeting the expectations you thought it could be or exceeding what the identity is of the team?
A: I think we're meeting it. We came in and wanted to be smart, tough, dependable. That is something (Head) Coach (Daboll) Dabs said. I want smart, tough, dependable guys. That's why we win football games. I think if you go in that locker room, you are going to see a lot of smart, tough, dependable guys.
I'm glad the Giants did not insist on trying to force the issue (like the 35 carry insanity earlier this year).
Jones destroyed them because the feared Barkley. Winning most of the time means everybody contributes.