Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q. Is there anything to the idea that (Patriots General Manager/Head Coach Bill) Belichick's on the other sideline this week?
A: Personally, my first time in a real game, obviously preseason, but a real game going against him. You don't really look at it that way but just one of the best coaches – probably the best coach of all time. It's awesome to be on the field with him, he's a legend. So, you definitely have your respect, but your mindset is not like, 'Oh, this is Bill Belichick on the other side. But when you break it down and you talk about it out loud and you think about it, the greatest to ever do it is sitting on the other sideline so it's pretty dope to be on the same field as him.
Q. Have you ever been on a team where you've had three different quarterbacks in a season?
A: No, I don't think so. I think this is my first, yep.
Q. What has this been like especially adjusting to (quarterback) Tommy (DeVito)? Who's the younger, I mean, the other two guys are at least veterans, but this is a rookie quarterback, obviously.
A: I think for any rookie, every week the game slows down. I remember when I was a rookie, I had – I was really lucky because I had (Former Giants quarterback) Eli Manning, who was in like year whatever. So, especially blitz pickups and whatever, he'd tell me what to do. I didn't really have to think about it. But you can see that the games slowing down for him. The biggest thing for him, though, I just love the confidence and the swagger that he plays with. It kind of reminds me of a (free agent quarterback) Trace (McSorley) in college. That's the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Tommy. I'm happy for him. He played great last week, he's been playing great so far and hopefully, he can keep it going for us.
Q. What's the mentality of this team right now? You have one more game leading into the bye.
A: I mean, I feel like this has got to be the latest bye week we've ever had but everything we want is still out there. Just keep stacking them, taking one day at a time, and stay focused on this game, we've got a really good opponent against New England. Obviously, the records, I think the same as us, 2-8, but similar to us. They've been in a lot of games where their record could easily be different. That's the NFL, we know that it's going to be a great matchup against a great team, and our mindset and our focus is to do whatever we can to come out with a win.
Q. Do you get a kick out of Tommy? Do you get a kick out of him?
A: I love him.
Q. Like what do you like? What are the interactions like?
A: Tommy's my guy. Tommy's my guy but I love the whole storyline. I love that he's from Jersey, he lives with his parents, and he's the starting quarterback of the New York Giants, that whole thing is something I'd do in Madden. I would go and draft or pick an undrafted guy and put him on my team and just make him into a superstar. That's stuff that I do in my spare time, what I've been doing since I was a kid. So, I love the underdog story and stuff like that. I'm happy for him but he definitely doesn't carry that mindset. He doesn't walk around (like) an underdog, he's confident. I'm telling you right now, you wouldn't think that he's a rookie and he's the starting quarterback of the New York Giants. You would think it's year five, he's been doing this for a very long time the way that he carries himself. You can feel it in the huddle, so I love it, I'm happy for him and my job as a leader is to continue to stay on his side, help build his confidence and help make plays for him when the opportunity comes.
Q. How about Tommy's, including yourself, confidence after the win last week? Not his confidence but the confidence the rest of the guys have in him coming off of last week.
A: I think it's kind of – I kind of said something similar to it after the game in the locker room, this is the NFL. When a guy gets in there, it's not like 'Can he do this? Can he do this?' obviously, don't get me wrong, it's tiers but he's here for a reason. It's hard to make it to this level so when you're in a locker room like this, we all understand how hard it is to make it to the NFL. I think from the outside world, they think it's a lot easier. So, for us, it's not like 'Oh, our confidence is growing' and obviously, you get a win, confidence as a team just grows but it's the next man up. It's your job to go out there and make plays, no matter what the situation is, and he's been doing a really good job of that.
Q. What play are you installing this week?
A: (Laughs) I didn't install that play. (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kaf(ka) and all those guys did a really good job of calling it. I just felt with the way that the defense was playing that play would work. (Tight End Daniel Bellinger) Belly let me down a little bit not getting into the endzone, so I had to give him a little bit of crap but I'm never going to be upset with a touchdown myself.
Q: How often do you do that though? Obviously, the cameras caught that but like suggesting plays?
A: I mean you can do it all the time. Just get a feel in the game. Yeah, the camera obviously caught it in that moment, but sometimes it doesn't work like that. You get a feel and then they do the exact opposite of what you think but you just get a feel of the game and what's going on through the game and how they are playing you and you just make suggestions, and we have a coaching staff that does a really good job of listening to the players.
Q: So how often do they listen to you?
A: I would say pretty much, you know, depending on the game, I can't just go up there and say 'Hey Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) I want the ball here' and he goes tell Kaf 'Saquon wants the ball here' and they give me the ball, it doesn't just work like that. They have to agree with it,
but I would say not just myself, whether it's DJ (quarterback Daniel Jones), whether it's any of the quarterbacks, or there are wide receivers that have been playing a certain way and we feel it and we watch it and we feel like we set them up where we could make a play, they'll give us a green light.
Q: What have you seen from (Patriots defensive back) Jabrill (Peppers) and what do you think about matching up with him?
A: He's playing great, he's playing really good. I'm happy. Pep is one of my guys, him being a former teammate. I have nothing but respect for him, you know the way he works. I think his last year here is the year he tore his knee, so he didn't go out the way that he would like, but just happy to see him getting back to himself and playing at a high level right now. He's a tough player, he's physical, he got that motor that doesn't stop, whether it's practice or whether it's in a game, so it's always a fun matchup when you get to go against a guy like that.
Q: This locker room seems pretty animated today and exuberant today. Why?
A: It was like that last week. I said we were 2-8, but we don't feel like a 2-8 team. Some people might take it 'Oh, we don't care and it's just like, no. We've been the same team and there are times when you are a losing team, and it feels like you are a losing team and it's miserable and you don't want to walk in here. That's not the swagger that we have. We know everything that we want to accomplish is still out there, but we just have to keep that mindset, have everyone keep comments out, but just take it one game at a time, one day at a time, and hopefully, by the end of this we are looking up and we are where we want to be.
Q: Your former head coach (Patriots assistant head coach) Joe Judge will be on the other sideline this week. Will you go over, and catch up with him? Two years later, what do you remember? Anything you learned from him, anything you learned from that era?
A: Yeah, with Judge, obviously the biggest thing was focus on the little things and the details. That's something that I'll always take. Definitely will see, if I see him, I'm going to go over there and speak to him. Like you said, you mentioned my former head coach. He's the one where, the first thing that goes in my mind, I was sitting there after I tore my knee, I'm sitting there bawling and I look up and he's the one that told me it's going to be a hell of a story. From that moment, that kind of my whole mantra was like this is not over. I'm going to be okay. I'm going to find a way. I'm going to work my butt off and I'm going to get back to the player that I'm known to be and the player that I know that I am. So, I've got nothing but tremendous respect for Joe and obviously, the two years here didn't go the way we would've liked, but I'm really thankful for him.
Q: Last time you played the Patriots who started at running back?
A: The last time I played the Patriots?
Q: This team.
A: Jonathan Hilliman.
Q: Who was the little guy, the little, small running back too that was active that game?
A: You talking about my second year?
Q: 2019. He was like a practice squad guy who came in, he was really small.
A: The guy I'm thinking about was DLew (Dion Lewis) but that was 2020. It was Hilliman, Elijhaa Penny, he was playing fullback and running back.
Q: Austin Walter.
A: Oh yeah. Yeah. Did he play that game though?
Q: I don't think he played but he was like on the practice squad or something.
A: Yeah, yeah.
Q: He was active.
Q: With Tommy, do you think guys have kind of rallied around him in part because of the enthusiasm he brings and how you know he's young, but he's got something to him?
A: Yeah, I think it definitely helps. I feel like you could handle it one or two ways. You could come to the situation and be nervous and everyone could feel that. Now that's when it's like alright, obviously, like I've said in the NFL you're here for a reason, but like if you're going in and you seem scared, you seem timid, that's not the recipe for success. I think his attitude and the way he comes and the swagger, he plays like what you think an Italian, Jersey person would be, that's exactly how he plays. I think that definitely helps. I think it helps him and just us. We know that the guy that we have that's at quarterback has confidence in himself and confidence in making the plays and that definitely goes a long way.
Q: What did he say to you immediately after the touchdown? The first touchdown. Do you remember?
A: He said, "Hell of a catch".