RB Saquon Barkley
*Q: Did you like what you saw last week when you went back and watched the film? Obviously, it was your most productive game. *A: Yeah. In a long time, right? Yeah, I think the o-line— it starts up front. The o-line did a great job creating holes and stopping penetration and having movement. Coaches made great calls, put me in the right spots, and I got some one on ones. Obviously, you don't win them all, but I won more than I lost. I don't think we had one run over 12 yards, so it was more of just grind and pound and efficient gain. We were able to get into the fourth quarter, run the ball a little more, Buck (Javorius-Buck Allen) was able to go in there and show his skillset too. I think it was a good day for the running game and for running backs.
Q: Do you like that kind of game? When you just kind of bend them to your will?
A: Yeah, that's part of football. That's part of being a running back, that's part of a running game. That's what I've been kind of preaching saying we haven't gotten to that yet. Not saying I'm pointing fingers as to why we haven't, it was more of the reason just the game and having an opportunity for it. That was really one of our first four-minute, or technically our first four-minute probably happened around the six minute or eight-minute time, but that's probably the first time we had the chance to do that this year and we executed.
Q: You weren't even in there at the end.
A: Exactly, so they did it. It's a group effort. It doesn't take one running back, it takes a stable of running backs, it doesn't take one offensive lineman, it takes all five and some. And the tight ends, the wide receivers blocking, the quarterback putting us in the right position, they did a really good job this week. Hopefully we'll be able to keep that same production for next week.
Q: You talked about the mental part of almost subconsciously not going as hard, or being not yourself in general with the injury?
A: The mental part was more of just, even though your body feels well, your body feels good, you go out there you're able to make the cut, it's still just that, I don't know… fear is not the word… of someone landing on it and falling again. And for me it happened literally the first game I came back. So, that was probably the mental part that I had to fight and get over until I think probably after the bye week, it was definitely completely gone. I talked to you singlehandedly that I could show clips that I still, I guess you could say, still got it. Even though I don't think that's the right term to use. But also, I could show you clips where I can see myself, I'm not thinking I'm doing that, but I can see on film and it's showing that I'm protecting myself. That hasn't been the case in the last couple of weeks.
Q: You didn't see that this week?
A: No, not at all. I haven't seen it since the bye week, actually.
Q: You like that one clip of you cutting outside on the cornerback there?
A: Yeah, I made a good little move there. You can feel it, but when you actually go back and see it I was like, 'wow, that's a nice cut.' The cornerback, he made some good plays on me too. The first play of the game he kind of surprised me. I thought he was going to go low but he kind of just jumped on top of me and wrapped me up. So, he had a couple one on ones. I made him miss more times than not, but he made some nice plays too. That's the beauty of football. That's my job, I've got to make those one on ones happen more often than not.
Q: When you look back at coming back from injury, is there any part of you that wishes you waited?
A: No, not at all. Not one bit.
Q: It sounds like you're saying that it wasn't the initial injury it was that one where it got a little tweaked in that first game back…
A: Obviously I'm saying that happened in the first game back, but the injury wasn't the problem. It was one, how the game was going, how the defense was playing us, you've got to give credit where credits due. The defense was playing great against us in the last, I guess you could say that slump phase. But I said for myself, that I could realize from me watching film, I could see myself not even thinking about doing it but just subconsciously protecting myself, I guess you could say.
Q: Not making the Pro Bowl team, does that motivate you? How do you handle that?
A: The Pro Bowl is dope. I went there last year, it's an awesome experience. It's not the end all be all. I don't think that I was even anywhere close or deserved to being in the Pro Bowl. Not shocked at that. Congrats to all of the running backs that it made, they had a heck of a year. Does it motivate me? No. What motivates me is that we're going home in two weeks. That's the only motivation that I have. We're not in the playoff run, we're not having the chance of the playoffs. That's going to be my motivation this offseason.
Q: All things considered with the injury, obviously the resulting lack of production and the lack of wins, how difficult has this year been?
A: It's been tough. Not just because of lack of the production but just because we're not winning games. We're 3-11. Obviously, we have a chance of going 5-11, that's not what we wanted for the season, that's not what any team who has a losing record wanted for this season. That's the outcome of it, that's something we're not happy with, definitely not satisfied with, definitely have got to work on. The production doesn't matter. I had one of the best seasons ever last year for a rookie running back. That didn't matter last year at all. We went 5-11. All of those yards, when they come from five wins, don't mean nothing. I think if you ask any talented or any player who is productive, the only thing that matters to them is the wins. Because at the end of the day it's that trophy that everyone wants. Not the rookie of the year trophy, MVP trophy, or any of those trophies.
Q: So, considering how rarely you guys have won the first two years, what are your expectations for next year to change that? Obviously, the career is not forever…
A: The expectation is always going to be the same. Like I said, when I came into the offseason this year, every team, it's not just only for the Giants, every team when they start, their expectation is to win the Super Bowl. That's for every single team. No one just comes into the season, 'let's go .500.' I'm not coming at you, I'm just saying, let's just the win the division. Those are the things you've got to focus on to go further. You've got to worry about beating Dallas, beating Philly, beating the Redskins, winning the division to go to the playoffs. Then win the playoffs and so on. The whole goal while you train is not to be average, it's to be elite. The most elite thing you can do in this sport is win the Super Bowl.
Q: I guess I'm trying to get passed the generality of it. For your specific mindset, with how much you guys have lost this year and these past two years, what does that do for your sense of urgency going into next year? It's not like you're at the end of your career, but what does that do for your sense of urgency, does it heighten your sense of urgency?
A: Yeah, I think the heightened sense of urgency is just because I know the talent and I know what we have in this locker room. Not just only the losing…obviously the losing makes you want to work ten times harder, not being as successful makes you want to work ten times harder. But it's also the men that we have in this locker room. Not just in this locker room but this whole facility, this whole building. From the football players, to the training staff, to the lifting coaches, to the kitchen staff and so on and so on. We've got a special group of people in here who all do things the right way. That's what motivates you, that's why you want to go hard because at the end of the day, it's not only you when you have team success, it's not only you, it's everyone here. You want to see everyone with a smile on their face.
Q: What do you make of Adrian Peterson? He's 34 years old and he's still performing at the level that he is.
A: He's a monster. AP, he's one of the best running backs to ever do it. I know he just tied Walter Payton's touchdown record, I don't know if he broke it— hopefully he doesn't break it next week if he didn't. But I've been a big fan of him, got to talk to him multiple times. He always gives me great words of encouragement, but just a big fan. I love watching his game and it's amazing to see what he's able to do at this age.
Q: What is it about his game that's impressive?
A: I think, when you look at his stats he's got like 180 carries for like 700 and something yards. His longest run is 29-yards. Back in day, AP was breaking for 80, 70, this, that and the third. Even last year he had some of those. So, you can see that it just shows that he's just being real productive. Very productive. Taking what the defense gives him, you still see him run through arm tackles, run through tackles, run a physical game downhill. That's the most impressive game. There is going to be some point with all of us, where myself, where Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott), where Todd (Gurley), where Christian (McCaffrey), we might not have those years or those seasons where we're breaking 80-yard touchdown runs or 70-yard catch and runs. But you still do it and you still can be able to be productive in a type of manner or I guess you could say, type of game I had last week.
Q: Do you get a sense from Peterson that he regrets not winning a Super Bowl?
A: I've never personally sat down with him and talked to him and dived into that discussion. I would assume he is probably upset he's never won a Super Bowl.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about the fun of the challenge of taking on a great box safety like Landon Collins?
A: Yeah, it's definitely going to be a challenge. I respect his game a lot, he's a heck of a player. You can see the Redskins do a lot with him inside the box. I think he leads the team in tackles, so it's going to be fun. Definitely a challenge. A challenge that I know I'm up for, not only myself but all of the other running backs and the team is too.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula
*Q: Golden Tate has made a couple of really difficult catches. The one last week, against the Patriots. What makes a receiver really good at that specific skill? *A: I just think some guys have really good, you can say ball skills but probably hand-eye coordination. He's probably born with that. Then he has really good instincts, too. He knew exactly where the guy was going to come from, how close he was going to be, the guy coming from the outside, even though he didn't see him. Just things like that. Probably blessed with a little talent as well.
*Q: What has impressed you the most about Darius Slayton's year? *A: I think he's gotten better each week. He's quiet, so we didn't really know what kind of personality, football knowledge, instincts he had. I think all of those were probably more than what we thought. He has a calmness to himself. I think the first thing that kind of… He's still a rookie. He has a lot to learn and a lot to improve on. But the first thing that kind of caught my eye was just his communication early in the preseason games, during the games with the quarterbacks. Not a lot of receivers, especially young ones, kind of come up to quarterbacks and say, 'Hey, what did you think on that? Well, this is what I thought. I have to do this better.' Right away, he was doing that, and I thought that was impressive for a young guy. I think that kind of led into… What we found out is that he has a little confidence about himself and good football knowledge. Hopefully he'll just keep getting better.
*Q: Has he developed as a route-runner, or is he more advanced than we kind of thought? I think coming out, a lot of people saw the speed and thought he was kind of just a deep guy. *A: I think Tyke (Tolbert) has done a great job with him. I think we probably didn't give him enough credit as a route-runner coming out of college. I know those guys are well-coached down there at Auburn. They have a little bit different offense than we do, but they still run a lot of the same routes. We saw a lot of big plays, just like everybody did, when he was coming out in the draft. But he's really good at really running all of the routes for a young guy. For example, one of the easiest things, you would think it's easy, but a lot of the time, especially for young guys, just getting the proper depth. He's probably as good as any rookie as I've ever seen, as little as that is, at just getting depth because as we know, the timing is so important. If you're short, the quarterback is going to be late with the ball. He's done a good job with that.
*Q: Assuming he plays, what do you want to see from Daniel (Jones) the last two weeks to kind of put a bow on his rookie year? *A: Well, we'll just lock in on this game if he does. Just win games. It's all about winning. Finding ways to win and the consistency. To do that for a quarterback, as we know, it's three things. Going to the right guy with the football, getting the ball there on time, and accurately. Just the consistency of that decision-making, to start with, would be the things that we're looking for in all quarterbacks, but especially young guys improving.
*Q: Where do you see him in those areas? Where do you see him so far? *A: I think he's been really good for a young guy. The number one thing, throw out all the stats and all the kind of fantasy stuff. The number one thing is winning football games. As the quarterback, you're at the focal point of that. We, at that position, have to be better. But I think there are signs throughout that, and you have to look at that, not necessarily statistics, but just signs of decision-making, how quick he's making them, how he recovers from a negative play, how he is with his technique, that are all continuing to improve. Now we just have to, as a quarterback and as a team, just have to see more results on the plus side.
*Q: Can you tell if there's something in particular that he gained, any value, from being out of the lineup for a couple weeks, albeit the circumstances are not what you wanted? *A: Yeah, I know you guys kind of asked him that question yesterday. I think that's probably more for him to answer. Just in general, though, watching number 10 (Eli Manning), how he operates, I think you could watch him every single week and just continue to learn. On the preparation, from the minute he walks into the building until the end of the game. For the whole week, just the thought process, the gathering of information, and storing it and then applying it on Sunday. How to take information, the volume that's thrown at you on Wednesday, absorb it and then retain it through study, preparation, and going over it and going over it and going over it, until it becomes natural to you on Sunday.
*Q: Is that a special quality that Daniel may have that maybe other guys wouldn't? Because in that situation, Daniel doesn't strike me as someone that needs you to tell him what to watch. He kind of just watches on his own and picks it up. Is that kind of what you're talking about, in terms of knowing what you're seeing and learning from what you're seeing, rather than you being told? *A: I think he has a good quality, and I think he's learned from Eli. But I think he learned from Coach (David) Cutcliffe at Duke probably more so than anybody, and he's benefited because of it. I've said this often, he's been very well-trained in college. We're reaping the benefits of that as we see him on the field with his productivity. Like I said earlier, we have to continue in that direction with wins.
*Q: It looked like Saquon (Barkley) ran hard, didn't hesitate, was willing to take the four, five, six-yard runs. His longest run was 12 yards, even though he topped 100. Was that the best you've seen of him in a while? The hardest maybe he's run in a while consistently? *A: Just overall, I think the thing that stood out more so, and it's probably hard to measure this, all of us, because he's not going to talk about it even if he was, but I think that's probably, more so than any other games, where I've really seen him cut it loose on some 90 degree turns that we saw last year. Maybe we hadn't quite seen as much. His body is probably feeling really… That's just my personal opinion. He might say differently. But I think I saw more of that. To your point, in my opinion, we had a really good day rushing the football, and we really didn't have, as you said, a lot of explosive plays. I think that's a credit to him, as well as our offensive line, to be able to move the ball efficiently and gain that many yards on the ground, without like one run for 70 and the rest have a low average. Again, like some other things that we've talked about, I think there are some signs that are pointing in the right direction upfront and then with Saquon.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
*Q: Are free kick returns different than punt returns? You had a big one, obviously, on Sunday. *A: In theory, it's different, but it's the same thing. All we do is basically put a punt returner out there and we use a kickoff return scheme, but it's kind of like a punt return. Obviously, you've got to return it like one. So, we made a big play and Da'Mari (Scott) got a chance to make somebody miss and kind of show who he is.
*Q: This might be obvious, just a special teams question, but why do teams choose to punt instead of kick off in that situation? *A: That's the rule.
*Q: That's obvious then (laughter). Did it used to be that way? *A: Well, in college you have the option of kicking off or punting. In pro football, you have to punt.
*Q: The Redskins' punter (Tress Way) is pretty good. What makes a guy such a good punter? *A: He is very strong, has a very strong leg, and they allow him to punt away, like just hit it as far and long as he can. So, that's good and bad. You get some opportunities to return the ball, but he can also be a weapon because he can flip the field. He had a punt against Carolina, backed up on the minus 21, he hits it 60 yards in the air and it rolls for another 18 yards, a 79-yard punt. So, that can affect the game a little bit.
*Q: Do you have your returner start even farther back when you're facing a guy like that? *A: Yes. It all depends on the conditions, the wind, all that stuff, but you've got to play him a little deeper. He has the ability to really, really flip the field. A talented guy, obviously, going to the Pro Bowl.
*Q: Riley (Dixon) is not far off from the Pro Bowl. What does that mean to you guys that he made that jump? *A: He's had a good year, he really has. I think he's turned a corner. He's enjoying punting. I think today he might have hit 3,000 balls. He's enjoying it, he's enjoying his craft. He's feeling himself turn that corner. Everything is starting to click for him a little bit more now. Last week, it was a little crazy with the conditions and the wind and stuff, but even with the conditions that we had, he did a good job of handling it. So, I think he's definitely—the arrow is up for him. He's moving in the right direction.
*Q: That safety, do you consider those special teams' points? *A: No, obviously the defense tackled him. It would be different if it was us, but no. I know it was a big play that put them down there, the wind helped us a little bit on that punt. But, no, it was a big play by the defense. Sam (Beal) did a great job of tackling the guy in the end zone, but we did a good job of downing the ball inside the five, and they helped us with the penalty. But it was good, complementary football, backing them up, getting the safety, punt after the safety, return it back to the 40, get good field position, go down and score. I think that was a big turning point in the game.
*Q: Has (David) Sills shown he can contribute on special teams? *A: David is a young guy, he hadn't been able to get out there with us as far as like with the real bullets flying. He is a hard-working kid. He does exactly what you ask him to do, and we'll see. We'll see what he can do. He's a talented kid.
*Q: What's his best attribute? We haven't obviously seen him. *A: Just his tenacity. He's long, he can run, and he plays extremely hard. And it's everything that you want to see in a young guy. He has length, he's not a real big guy as far as his girth, but he just plays hard. He competes, and you can't ask for more.
Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher
Opening Statement: Good afternoon. Starting off, coach has addressed everything with Janoris. The only thing I'll say is, just like with all the guys that have played for me, I wish them nothing but the best and it's the same for Jack, too. Moving on to this week, I think this is an offense that you see each and every week getting better. The young receivers are playing fast and the quarterback is doing a good job managing the game, dealing the ball and getting the ball out of his hand. 26 (Adrian Peterson) in the backfield and 25 (Chris Thompson), 25 is a pretty dynamic player out of the backfield as well. We all know AP is really, really a special back. It's going to be a great challenge. Our group of guys continue to run to things. Two outstanding practices and we are going to keep stacking those things. We're going to keep getting better each and every day and each and every meeting as we kind of push forward to this weekend.*Q: Obviously Beal, Baker and Ballentine played a lot all season. Not having Jackrabbit around, did that do anything for their urgency? Taking away a security blanket they could rely on? *A: I think in the meeting room, it was let's move and let's find a way to get better and that's what they did last week. I thought we played a better second half than a first half defensively. I thought we tightened some things up. The guys continue to compete and work to get better. I said this probably 10 or 11 weeks ago, we treat it like going to the doctor and getting a prescription and that doesn't change. The way guys get better in this league is intentional work. Your intentional work might be different than the guy's intentional work that's standing right next to you. The things you need to get better at from a skill set standpoint is different from the next guy. We have to coach each guy differently and our players have to attack their things that they have to get better at differently as well. To answer that, it's just go to work and get better at the things we need to get better at.
*Q: Has something clicked for DeAndre Baker in the last few weeks? *A: I think it's just a combination of a young player starting to understand where his eyes need to be, being square at the right times. It really falls under what I was saying with the last question. Identifying the things you need to get better at and having really good intentional work to get better at them. About two or three weeks ago, I said it in front of the whole defense. It was a Friday practice and we do some production things during the week and we put it up on the boards every day. He had just a great week, he had a really good week of prep and it showed up on game day. Those kinds of things, stacking one rep in practice, stacking one position meeting and for rookies in this league first, second, third-year players to develop their skills sets, I think he's progressing in regards to that. He has to continue to get better at some things.
*Q: Now he is your number 1 cornerback right? Does his role change now? *A: Nope, he is going to keep doing the things he's been doing. Just continue getting better at the things we need to get better at.
*Q: Do you remember what week that was that you are talking about? *A: I couldn't tell you the actual week. I remember the meeting though, for sure.
*Q: When you watch film of Haskins, what he is doing now versus what he put on tape from when he played you guys earlier, how is he better? *A: Very decisive with the ball, knows where he wants to go. Doing a good job of managing stuff. I think offensively they're doing a nice job of handing the ball to 26 and they've always done a great job in the run game of being creative. Pulling guys, jet motions and some of those kinds of things that mess with your eyes. They have always done a great job with that. They are doing a nice job in protection trying to keep him clean. He's being decisive with the ball and the young receivers are getting better.
*Q: Is there any value to the film the last time you played him? *A: I think there's value to all film, I really think there is. There's always value to turning tape on and seeing some of their thoughts on attacking us and some of the things they wanted to do with him in the game when we played them the first time. You also take into the account the last six or seven games where they've kind of got into their groove of the things they are really trying to do offensively with a new coordinator.