RB Saquon Barkley
Q: Congratulations on a great season individually. What do you do? Do you wish you can get started again right away or are you looking forward to a little bit of a break before you get your engines going?
A: Honestly, I wish we can get started right away. It’s going to suck staying home watching the playoffs and knowing that you’re not in there and wanting to be in there. That’s also going to motivate you to work harder, work extra and push yourself to be a better player for your team next year, so that next year you’re not home watching the playoffs. I would love to get going right away, but this is my first time having an NFL offseason so I want to make sure I do this right. I was just talking with my running back coach – I don’t want to take too much time off and I don’t want to not take enough time off, so try to find a balance, talk to vets. I talked to Frank Gore and he gave me some great advice with how he handles it, (as well as) Stew (Jonathan Stewart). I’m going to try to find the right thing for my body to balance it and get me in the best shape I can to come out in April and get ready to get the season started again.
Q: Do you feel like after ending your first season in the NFL, do you feel like your body feels like you just played 16 hard games?
A: No, I feel like I got four more games left in me to be completely honest. Got to continue to do a good job taking care of my body. Very fortunate to have a great staff here with the strength staff and the guys in the training room, the people I work with outside of this facility. To be able to start all 16 games at the position I play, that’s an honor right there. I saw something on Twitter that there’s like six or seven backs that did that this year, so got to give credit to the people I work with for helping take care of my body.
Q: How much will you watch the next months of the playoffs when you’re home?
A: I’m going to try to watch every single game. There’s nothing like playoff football, so I will definitely watch. There’s going to be teams that make mistakes that I could learn from, so when I’m in that position one day and when this team is in that position one day we could be ready for it.
Q: When you’re in that position?
Q: You’re thinking when, not if?
A: When, yeah.
Q: There has been a bunch of peaks and valleys during this season, team related wise. Obviously a lot of peaks for you. What’s the most important thing you think you’ll take with you during this offseason?
A: Most important thing that I’ll take into this offseason is try to do a little extra with workouts, with reps, with on-field stuff. Finish, finish better. I’m a big believer in what you do in the offseason, what you do in the weight room and what you do in your workout translates to the field and the biggest thing I think that we weren’t able to do as a team this year is not finish out games. I don’t what the stat is – eight, seven, six, how many games we lost by seven points or fewer. Obviously that’s just the nature of the game and the nature of the NFL and how close games are going to be, but that’s going to be in the back of my mind. So when I’m working out, always find a way to – obviously everyone, I don’t care who you are you’re human, you’re going to get sore, you’re going to get tired, but find a way to fight through that and power through that. When I’m in that situation on the field, I could be there for my team to step up and make plays or lead in those situations better.
Q: From a training standpoint, how much different is this offseason going to be from last year when it was Fiesta Bowl, draft training, all the run up to the draft, the combine and all that. Now that you have a full season under your belt, how different is this offseason going to be?
A: It’s going to be very different. You got time to take off and I haven’t really gotten the opportunity since high school football to be completely honest since my senior year. Even that I went to play basketball and I ran track, but I’m going to try to balance this and do it the right way. I don’t want to take too much time off and I want to make sure I take enough time, too, because that’s what you have to do in this league so I look forward to it. Try to balance it the best that I can and get myself the best prepared I can when the time comes.
Q: Talking about taking off, yesterday that one-handed football touchdown, what was that all about?
A: Looking back on film, I probably could’ve just walked in. The offensive line did a really good job of blocking, but we were actually just watching that play. I was watched it with a couple offensive linemen and they were like you don’t think you could’ve just walked in here, we just laughed about it. I made up in my mind that no matter by any means I’m going to score and for some reason my body said jump and I was able to jump, but that’s something you could learn, too. In that situation, it worked out for me. We scored a touchdown, but that’s not the right time to do it. I don’t know, I think the down and distance was third down. That’s time to do if it’s fourth down in a critical moment so I got to find a way with being better ball security. Obviously, I didn’t have any fumbles this year so I did a pretty good job with that, but that was too close to call so got to definitely be smarter, but at the end of the day it did work and when the opportunity comes you got to make those plays.
Q: Did you see the memes that were going around?
A: I saw a couple of them. The funniest one I saw was me jumping and it was a Space Jam one of Michael Jordan jumping. Yeah it’s always fun to see those things, but with that said, try to stay away from it. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you guys. I’m on social media, you guys are on social media, everyone is on social media. You’re going to see the good things and you’re also going to see the bad things, but it’s how you handle it.
Q: Was it tough not to get your hands on the ball on the last drive when you needed just a field goal to win?
A: Yeah, it’s tough because just how I’m made up and how I was raised and just I want to be that guy to make the play for my teammates, to make the play for my team to put us in the position to win a game. That’s just something how it always been, I’m always going to be, but at the end of the day you got to trust your teammates to make plays too and I know they’re going to make those plays. Sometimes you fall short in life and that game right there and that drive right there we fell short. We did that too many times this season, so we got to find a way to be better.
Q: I’m sure you’ve played on teams where you kind of knew how good you were and you’re going to win a majority of games. How close is this team to being that?
A: I believe that we’re very close and to be completely honest, I think what we have here is special. I wasn’t here the year before, but we’re not the team that we were when we went 3-13. Obviously, we went 5-11 and that’s not the record that we would like, but we’re close. We’re really close and I believe that’s going to show next year if we continue to believe in each other, continue to work and continue to grind and have that dog mentality that we showed this year. I think it’s going to fall our way differently next year.
Q: Will you check in with Eli (Manning) during the offseason just to keep the rapport going?
A: Yeah I will check in with Eli, I will check in with all my teammates. I put my number on the board for all the offensive linemen just in case I don’t have any of their numbers and running backs and wide receivers. I love working out with my teammates. I’m a big believer that it helps build a great team and that’s how me and Odell (Beckham Jr.) and (Sterling) Shepard got close from being in LA training with those guys. When you’re grinding with someone, you see how they work. You respect the grind, you respect how they push themselves. You see it work on the field, that’s why you get so excited for those guys when they’re making plays. Definitely going to check in with all my teammates.
Q: When you look at your year, you talked about getting through the mesh earlier this year, maybe tweaking your running style up, getting a taste for the NFL. Now that you have a season under your belt, how much better can this offense be hitting the ground running this year?
A: I believe the offense can be outstanding. Coach put up a thing for us the difference between the first half of the season and second half of the season and how much more balanced we were as a team. We had like nine more points than we did, more in the running game, passing efficiency was up, the win and loss column was better than it was in the first half so I believe that we have the opportunity to be a balanced team and to be able to hurt people at any moment. I think we have people on this team that you can’t blink and you blink or you fit a gap wrong or you have a coverage wrong, we’re going to take it 80. I think – I don’t think, I know that Shep, Odell, myself, Cody (Latimer), Evan (Engram) and those guys showed it. Now we just got to continue to build and you don’t want to dwell on the past, but you want to learn from the past and move on from it and continue to get better.
LT Nate Solder
Q: When you look back at this season, disappointment, progress, what do you think?
A: Well you’re disappointed in the wins and losses column. Obviously we had so many close games and so many close calls and we didn’t way the way we wanted to play for a lot of the season so those are disappointing I suppose, but then again that’s life and you grow and you’re getting better and you’re improving and you don’t get caught up in losses like you don’t get caught up in the wins and you move forward.
Q: Because of you coming from such a successful organization like the Patriots, you have seen and experienced what a winning culture is and how winning character is developed. Could you identify for us how far along this locker room has come and how close it is to becoming what it needs to be?
A: I don’t know what it was before, honestly. I wasn’t here last year and wasn’t a part of that, but the second I got here, there was guys that cared, guys that worked hard. I felt unified with the same cause, guys believing in each other and I think that’s what it is. It’s the guys in this room and this locker room that make the difference and hopefully your coaches put you in a good position to be successful, but in the end it comes down to how we work together and how we play together and how much we support and love each other.
Q: How are you going to spend your first January without football in your NFL career?
A: I don’t know, I’m working that out right now. I was just talking with the strength and conditioning staff about recovery and getting back into training and all the things I hadn’t dealt with before and last year was mid-February before I was talking about those things so it’s a little different, but maybe it’s another opportunity to get that much better and have a better season next year.
Q: Obviously your body has more time to recover which –
A: More time to recover, more time to build and strengthen and everything, yeah. Maximize that.
Q: Are you look forward to watching playoff games? You never really got a chance to do that either.
A: You know what, I’m really looking forward to spending time with my two kids and my wife. Those are the two groups of people that I want to spend my time with and we like football and we’ll watch it, but you know what, there’s more important things at this time of year.
Q: Not going to Times Square to stand out in the rain?
A: No I’m not.
Q: Coach was talking about how the offense started to come along once the offensive line stabilized. Talk about after the bye week, did you have that same kind of feeling as well?
A: I think there’s more stability in our offensive line at the end of the season than there was in the beginning of the season and for whatever reason that’s true. I think that a lot of the offense is built off the success of the offensive line and how consistent we can be and how well we’re doing our job. If your offensive line is knocking guys off the ball you can make some yards.