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Quotes (9/12): Saquon Barkley, Giants Coordinators

RB Saquon Barkley

Q: In terms of urgency, where would you put this game on your radar scale?
A: I wouldn't really view it as that. It's another game on the schedule. It's our first game at home, so it'll be great to get a win just for the team and the fans. But it's the start of the season. Just take it one game at a time and try to find a way to win this week.

Q: How surprised were you that you got caught on that long run (against Dallas)?
A: It's the NFL. People are going to make great plays and take great angles, and he was moving I think 22.8 (miles per hour). I was running like 21.8 (mph). Respect to him. He made a great play. But at the end of the day, we were able to score at the end of that drive, and that's all that really matters. But when those opportunities come, you have to find a way to put it into the end zone or continue (the drive). Even if you don't score on that play, find a way to put it into the end zone, which we did on that drive. We just have to find a way to do that more in this game.

Q: You had 15 touches in game one. Do you think you need more touches to give this team every chance to win?
A: I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. If we play better than we did last game, and we execute what we need to execute, I don't think the conversation will be about 15 touches. I think we find a way to win that game. But at the end of the day, Dallas made more plays than us. We just have to find a way to do that better next game.

Q: How exciting is it to be here for the home opener?
A: It's awesome. It's always great to get back and play in front of the home fans. Giants fans are amazing fans. (It's great) Anytime you get back and play in front of New York, especially for my family coming from close, being home so they can come out to the game. I have a lot more people there. Now my daughter is a little older. She doesn't really understand the game, but she's definitely more interactive with it. It's going to be fun.

Q: She'll be at the game Sunday?
A: Of course.

Q: Generally speaking, how different is running out of a two-tight end set versus a three-wide receiver set? I know each play is a little different, but does it change anything from a running back's standpoint?
A: It doesn't change anything from a running back's standpoint. Your reads are still the same. You still have to hit it the same way and try to find the right fits. I guess it adds an extra defender in the box, technically speaking, because you have to account for that one on defense. When the guy is wider out there, they're a little bit wider outside the box. For me, it doesn't really change anything. I just need to read it the same way, whatever the run scheme is. If it's an inside zone, read out the right way. If it's a power run, read out the right way.

Q: Regardless of the number of carries you had against Dallas, the holes were there. How encouraging is that?
A: It's very encouraging. I knew that was going to happen. We had a great offseason and a great camp. The offensive line has been playing tremendously and at a great level. Coach (Shurmur) has been calling great, especially with the run game. I believe that it'll have a tremendous impact on the running game this season. It may not be like that every game, but when it's like that, we have to take advantage of it. Not only myself, but Wayne (Gallman) and (Paul) Perk are both capable of making those plays when we need it. I'm really excited for the future of this season, and especially coming up for the next game.

Q: After the undefeated preseason, were you at all surprised by the fact that Dallas kind of opened the big lead and you never got close?
A: The preseason is the preseason. It's great to go undefeated in the preseason, but that's with a 90-man roster. It's pretty much a whole new roster when you get down to 53 and 46 when you suit up. Was I surprised that Dallas came and opened up a big lead? Yes, because we were playing at a high level, not only in the preseason, but also in camp. We were just making too many mental mistakes. Like I said, I'm not taking anything away from Dallas. They played a heck of a game and they're a heck of a team. But at the end of the day when you go back and watch film, a lot of it came down to us and what we did wrong. If we can find a way to make those plays and execute differently, then I think the outcome could be a lot closer or a different game for us.

Q: How do you feel physically right now?
A: My body feels pretty good. My answer is always going to be like that, no matter if I get 15 touches or 40 touches. I do the right things to try to get my body right and getting it ready. The most important thing is feeling the best you can on Sunday. I'm excited for that.

Q: You always talk about your leadership and your growing role as a leader. What's your message to the team this week after last week and going into this next game?
A: Don't panic. It's not like I really have to give that message to the team. It doesn't feel like that in the locker room. I feel like it's more everyone outside of our locker room that's panicking. When you break it down, there are 32 teams in the NFL. Half of those teams lost last week, besides two of them that tied. But half of those teams lost. Any team in the NFL, just because you won big doesn't mean you're going to go 16-0. Just because you lost badly doesn't mean you're going to go 0-16. Don't panic. Just find a way to get better every single week. Get 1% better every single day. When the games come, just try to execute at a high level.

Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher

Opening Statement: Coming in after a performance where we did not play, number one, as well as we expected to play and, number two, as well as we are capable of playing, I thought the process in building, the process in playing good defense doesn't change from week to week, whether you play well or whether you poorly. The process is going into the meeting room, identifying areas you need to improve, then having purposeful work to correct those things. Not just talking about correcting those things, it's having purposeful work to correct those things. That's both player and coach, that's me as the coordinator, that's our position coaches, that's our players at each level of their position. That's not coach speak, that's how you improve and that's how you build and that's how you get better. I said this the last time we talked, I love the character of this group, because there is no crumbling at the knees. There is none of that stuff. There is no pointing fingers, there's a lot of ownership and there is a lot of accountability in this group. Having said that, you go into the meeting room on Monday, you identify things that were not good enough. Whether it's a bust in a coverage, a leverage, a missed tackle, a bad call by me, whatever those things are, and we work to correct them. These guys have taken that and they are going to continue to take that and continue to do that day after day and I love that about this group and I love that about this coaching staff on defense. That's how we'll build a good defense here.

We have had two really good days of prep and we've had really good days of meetings. Our attention to detail has been on point, like it has been before. We have to take that attention to detail everyday into a Friday practice tomorrow, into a Saturday mock, and then we have to execute that and do the things that are necessary on Sunday to play better.

Q: How do you correct the mental errors, is it about these guys seeing something on tape and going through it in a game and making sure they don't repeat it?

A: I think there are two ways to address those things. The first thing is, often times guys can go into a meeting room or go through a walk-thru, or even go through a practice and they know what to do. Then in the moment you have to do what you know, a wise person told me that once, doing what you know. We just have to do what we know, one. Number two, as a coaching staff, it's on us, too. We are together on this, is there a way we can improve a call, is there a way we can coach a technique better, a fundamental better, coach eyes better, whatever that might have been. We have to address those things, too. We are all in the ship, we are all working to improve those things.

Q: What do you do to improve the cornerback spot opposite Janoris?

A: We have to play better at that spot, we have to tackle better at that spot. I think that's what it came down to, some missed tackles at that position. Bake's (DeAndre Baker) going to get a chance to play there and you'll see Ham (Antonio Hamilton) in situations and we will go from there. I think the plan will reveal itself like it did last week on Sunday. We just have to play better at the spot, just with the little things, it's not about ability, it's not what the guys are capable of doing, they just need to execute things that they know.

Q: Is Corey Ballentine at the level that he can be in that rotation?

A: He's growing and improving, he's certainly putting himself, by daily work, to be in a position to compete for that spot.

Q: Are you surprised you didn't get more pressure, there is a number out there that says you blitzed the sixth most in the NFL?

A: When it comes down to whether you pressure or you four-man rush, it comes down to winning one on ones. We have to do a better job of winning one on ones. I think coming out of Week 1 in terms of that specifically, you don't sit back and say I'm surprised, I can't believe this, I can't believe that. I don't live in that world. I look at it as here's something we have to get better at, let's go work to get better at it. We're running to things, we aren't running from them. Not attacking your question by any means, but I have a totally different mindset with those kinds of things. We need to attack what the problem was and go work to correct the problem. Not just say we need to rush the quarterback better. I think anyone can say that, Colton told me that as well. The truth is how do you rush the passer better. What fundamentals and techniques do we need to improve with specifically with what guys and players.

Q: As far the coverage breakdowns, is there a balance between doing what you do and maybe having to simplify things if guys are missing assignments?

A: I think that's, from a play caller's standpoint, from coaches in their position meeting rooms, even when you play well, you are looking at how can we make it better. Whether that's simplifying a call, making a different call, whether that's trying to more clearly communicate a fundamental and technique to play a position, you are always trying to do that. At the end of the day, the game starts, you get a huddle call, you break the huddle, you go out, you get aligned, you communicate, you get your eyes right in in a good stance, then you play the down. We will not make it more complex than that.

Q: When the defense is struggling, how are you? Are you calm?

A: There is a distinct difference between panicked and urgency. Someone that panics is all over the place, is sporadic, has no true answers. When you're urgent, there's an energetic, clearly directed course of action. That is the difference between urgency and panicked. One, I won't ever panic, and nor will our players. That's their character, that's the way these guys work and that's what I love about them.

Q: Do the Bills present a unique challenge because of Josh Allen's ability to throw the deep ball well?

A: Really when you look at their offense as a whole, you are going to see multiple formations, multiple personnel groupings. You saw it last week, 20 or 21 straight throws to start the game. They started in big personnel, exploded, made it look little. Last year, there was a game where it was like that, then there is a game where it's all little people doing that stuff. Sure, there is going to be some different formations, different personnel groupings. Josh (Allen) has an outstanding arm and he can deliver the ball quick, he has a very quick release. He can buy time with his feet and he will scramble and try to run the ball as well, and it will be a challenge. I love our work, I love where our guys are heading, and I think our guys will be excited to play at home this Sunday.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula

Q: I know it was a limited series, but what does Daniel (Jones) get out of getting on the field last week?

A: Like any other rookie playing at that time, getting his first snaps in regular season, getting a little exposure, doing it on the road—all of that kind of stuff.

Q: You guys used a lot of three wide personnel when it seemed like maybe your best personnel would be two tight ends. Is that scheme specific or is that how you guys see your best personnel?

A: I think we mix our personnel. Sometimes you mix it for matchup, sometimes you mix it for looks and things like that. We feel good about it. Kind of like we've done in the past, we've got our three wide personnel, we have our two tight end personnel, (and) we have our two back personnel. I think it's good to have a balance in all that and then have certain things off those where you're not predictable.

Q: What do you look at last week as—was it a matchup? You said it was dependent on whether it's matchup or just your desire?

A: I think it's all of those things. It's a little bit of everything. I think sometimes there are looks out of three wides that you like to run the ball out of or throw it, sometimes there are looks (where) you have those personnel on the field for matchups or for guys who are good at doing certain things. I think it's no different than any other week, though.

Q: When you look at last week, 470 yards looks great, but 17 points…

A: Yeah, that's the biggest…well, losing the game, obviously. As an offense, you have to finish drives. Moving the ball, we did some things that we felt like were pretty good. But then not being able to convert on some third downs, whether or not it was in the red zone or the plus side of the field, those things catch up to you. We've done a good job, at least in preseason, of getting points on the board. That's what we're talking to our team about, is doing the same thing and getting the ball in the end zone. When we were winning games at the end of last year, we were doing that. But you kind of attack those problems as you go. You try not to generalize, you try to say, 'hey, this is how we have to be better on this play.' If we do that, now we've got another first down or a whole set of downs and now we have the opportunity to go call what we want to call.

Q: What do you like about the plays where you roll Eli out?

A: I think there is misdirection. It kind of goes back to our personnel. You want to have things where there is stuff that's up inside, stuff that's downhill going right at guys, you need to have stuff that's going outside. You need to have stuff that's going to be misdirection, whether or not you're doing it in the run game or whether or not you're doing it off of misdirection in the pass game. That stuff was really good to us as we got better at the end of last year, and we feel like it's going to be good to us again.

Q: Why do you think it was so ineffective on Sunday?

A: Well, sometimes they are in good defenses that they play. Every play, there is about that much of a difference between a win or loss on that play. We look at it, and we're like everybody else, we learn and get better. If we like it again moving forward, or how we can tweak it, and things like that.

Q: What did you think of your offensive line and what can they take from last week now?

A: I think there was some really good stuff in the running game, and that obviously starts with the offensive line— but it takes all 11. I think our receivers did a really good job blocking in the run game as well. That helped free up Saquon to get a one-on-one with a safety down the field, or a corner. I think they did a good job adjusting. Dallas is really good upfront, in both rushing the passer and playing the run. They do a lot of movement. I think they did a good job against some of their movement in the run game. Pass protection-wise, we were good, but we can still get better. I think all of that, kind of going back to what we said all along, I think you're going to pass protect better when you stay out of third and downs or when you stay out of third and longs. It all kind of ties in, we just have to get the points. We have to do better on third down and then do better at finishing drives.

Q: On game days, I understand Pat (Shurmur) is the one calling the plays, but when something is slipping through the cracks, and obviously I'm talking about Saquon's touches, do you say something like, 'hey, I'm noticing this,' because he has so many other decisions going on in his head? Or do you stick mostly with the quarterbacks?

A: It's been collective. Coach (Shurmur) calls the plays, no doubt, but we talk about all of those things during the course of every game. You know, 'hey, this might be good moving forward,' 'hey let's get the ball to this guy or let's throw it here,' (or) 'they are doing something different than what we thought, we might need to look at this,' 'let's talk to our players about that,' so I think that stuff happens every game.

Q: Saquon's not the kind of guy to say anything about his limited touches, but do you sense anything from him this week that he wants to be the guy to carry this team?

A: No. I sense that Saquon wants to win, and he'll do it in whatever role. He is the ultimate team player. He's locked in just like he's been since the minute he got here on how he and the other offensive guys can help us win.

Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

Opening Statement: Good group this week, Buffalo, very talented specialists. Steven Hauschka, veteran kicker has been around for a long time, has done a solid job for them, kicks off extremely well. Corey Bojorquez, a young guy, a lefty—we've run against lefties a bunch here—coming up, so we've got to do a great job of fielding the ball with him. Obviously, in their return game they've got Andre Roberts who's banged up a little bit, but if he's back, he's as scary as any returner in the league. If he's not back there, then they've got Micah Hyde and they've got some other guys, Isaiah McKenzie, very capable. So, we've just got to go out there and do our jobs and obviously take care of the things that we need to take care of to go get a win.

Q: How close were you guys to Aldrick's (Rosas) range at the end of the first half?

A: Very. He hit one from 61, I think, during pregame. Indoors, I'd put him against anything. He's a very talented guy, but the if the situation calls for it, then we'll go.

Q: How much were you lobbying to kick the field goal? It was right around 61 or 62 yards.

A: I was just waiting on the word. I was waiting on the question to be asked.

Q: Nobody asked you?

A: I think Coach (Pat Shurmur) was more focused on trying to get a play. He knows Aldrick's range, we talk about it all the time before the game, what his range is, so that wasn't an issue. I think he was thinking more of what kind of play we could get to get it closer and then kick a field goal.

Q: As far as his range, does that vary if it's indoors or outdoors? Do you determine that in pregame warmups?

A: Yeah, it varies based upon the wind and the direction that you're going. Obviously, indoors is a little different, but I always have a number in my head because offensive coordinators and play callers always want to know, "What number do we have to get to?" Especially in those two-minute situations, where do they need to push the ball down to?

Q: If you had to--you lost to Carolina on a 63-yarder last year—would you be alright with Aldrick trying one of those?

A: Yeah, I wouldn't have an issue with it. The thing you run up against is, is he strong enough to get the ball up through the goalpost, but you don't want to put in a situation where you're giving up potentially a cheap score where you have your field goal team out there and they have a returner back there and the ball is short. So, those are things you also have to weigh as you look at those long field goals. You see it all the time, guys returning long field goals at the end of the half, trying to steal some points, and they end up giving up seven as opposed to getting three.

Q: With TJ Jones back, if he's active, will he jump to the top of punt returning or kick returning?

A: He'd definitely play. We would definitely use TJ if he's in there. He's a talented kid, very reliable. We use everybody on the roster, we're going to get something out of all of them. So, it's just a matter of him getting back in and getting acclimated.

Q: What did you think of the job Corey (Ballentine) did returning kicks?

A: He did a good job. He's a young kid. The catch mechanic thing is still something that he's working on, but every week he just has to get better, and every situation for him is a new situation. When you look at that stadium, he's never been in a place like that before. Topeka, Kansas, Washburn University didn't look like that, so it was definitely an eye-opening experience for him, but I think as he gets going, we look forward to great things from Corey.

Q: He took a couple out from deep late in the game. Is your thought to always be aggressive, or does it change based on the game situation?

A: If it's a situation where we're behind, we're going to try and make a play. Especially if we're two, three scores behind, we're going to try and make a play. Again, it's a catch mechanic thing—you don't ever want to catch the ball moving backward, you want to catch it moving forward—that kind of stuff. It's just, he's a rookie. Like any other rookie in any other spot, they're going to have growing pains—from the quarterbacks to the corners to the linebackers to the rookie offensive left tackle—it's the same thing. Every situation for him is new, so he's just got to make sure—he has to learn from what he did wrong and then correct it so he can have that wisdom moving forward.

Q: What happened on the punt return interference violation? Did Cody (Core) just not see him?

A: No, he saw him. He tried to push the other guy into their guy, and the guy did a good job of just kind of sliding by. It happens. A guy gets a penalty playing hard, I struggle with getting on him. It'd be different if a guy has no awareness about what's going on and he just makes a dumb mistake, that's different, but when you've got a guy that's playing hard and he's hustling—it's football. This isn't tennis, it isn't track, you're going to have some contact at some point in time, and sometimes there is inadvertent contact.

Q: It seemed like Riley (Dixon) had a pretty good game. Were you pleased with what you saw from him?

A: Yeah, he did a good job. Riley is getting better. Again, he's a young guy. Yes, he's in his third year, but he's a young guy. Especially specialists, it takes them years, a lot of them, to figure out who they are. I had a guy that I coached here a long time ago, and he said it took him until year nine. His name was Jeff Feagles. It took him until year nine to really find out what his routine was and who he was as a punter. He played another 10, 11 years after that, but it took him nine years to figure out really who he was. So, does everybody get that amount of time? No, but that's just the reality of it. These guys are always evolving, they're always trying to find ways to get better, and Riley is in that process now. Hopefully it takes him quicker than nine years.

Q: Will Antonio (Hamilton) be more in the rotation at gunner this week?

A: We'll see. It just depends what happens with him on defense. Antonio is always going to be a guy that's an option for us at gunner, regardless of what he's doing on defense, because of his ability to play the position. Obviously, we're at a point right now where we've just got to be smart with him.

Q: Is part of the decision with Corey at kick returner just because Cody (Latimer) has such a big role on offense? Does that take him off the table for you?

A: Again, I think more than anything, I know who Cody is as a returner, and I think when you have a guy like Corey with the ability that he has—he's a young guy with good speed that's strong—he has the ability to take it to the house. We want to make sure that we nurture that and bring him along so on the back end of the season when we're fighting for something, we've got him there and he's a playmaker for us and not just a guy who's trying to figure it out.

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