Saquon Barkley on Giants: ‘We have a great team’

The New York Giants seem to be a team that is in transition. They recently traded their best player in Odell Beckham to the Browns, in a move that screams of an organization that is rebuilding. Outside the locker room, there is not much optimism around the Giants, and at this point, the 37-year-old Eli Manning is expected to be the starter at quarterback in 2019, which does not give Giants fans much hope.

However, the Giants do have the number six pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and they do have a stud at RB in 2018 NFL Rookie of the Year, Saquon Barkley, who believes that the Giants could be an excellent team in 2019.

“In my opinion, we have a great team, a great quarterback, great offensive line, great running back and great wide receivers, so on and so on,” Barkley told the assembled media on Thursday. “We figured it out somewhat in the second half last year. We have that mindset and that belief about team, toughness and together. We could have a great season this year.”

To Barkley’s point, the Giants did play better near the end of last season after starting 1-7. The team was 4-4 in their last eight games. Maybe the subtraction of Beckham could be an addition by subtraction. Talent is essential in football, but so is chemistry, and perhaps the Giants will have better chemistry in 2019.

On paper, it does not look good for the Giants, but fortunately for New York, football is not played on paper.

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Eli Manning talks Beckham, future, & possibility of NY drafting a QB

Entering his 17th season, Giants QB Eli Manning continues to have the support of the New York Giants. Manning, who has had his struggles over past couple season, will try to lead the Giants back to the playoffs, which has not happened since 2016.

The 37-year-old Manning addressed the media today at the start of the team’s voluntary offseason conditioning program, where he addressed his future, the Giants draft plans, and Odell Beckham Jr.

Q: Are you approaching this offseason any different than any other?
A: No, I think you treat it the same as any year you come in. Had a good offseason, worked hard and I am excited about getting back with the team and the coaches. Going into that second year, you have an advantage because you know what the offense is a little bit and what the coaches like. Things you want to improve on, certain plays and concepts in the offense that you have some time to work on. I think it is just a mindset to work on the things that you need to improve on to help the team. Keep doing the things that you were successful with.

Q: When we talked to John Mara and Steve Tisch at the league meeting, they said at your age you have to go year-to-year. Are you ok with that?
A: I never concerned myself with that. I think every year I am just worried about that next year. That is what I am thinking about. I am thinking about right now with this team. Getting rolling, getting wins and doing whatever it takes to be a good teammate to get this team winning football games.

Q: With you guys picking six and 17, there is a chance to pick a QB. What would it be like to be a mentor to a guy if that were to happen?
A: I have always felt that in the quarterback room I have always had a great relationship with everyone. All the QBs, we have drafted quarterbacks and have had young quarterbacks in there. I enjoy talking football and enjoy talking ball. Giving tips on coverages, protections, concepts, everyone is trying to help each other. It is an open conversation for everyone to get ideas and everyone just sticks around after to get on the same page. That is just part of being a quarterback. I have enjoyed putting in the extra effort and the work. Getting everyone comfortable and up to speed. Help young guys trying to learn a new offense.

Q: Is there a different vibe this year being that you have been through a year with this offense already?
A: It is definitely better going into that second year. Not just for me but to have an offensive line, receivers where you have an idea of what you are supposed to be doing. Now, you can work on just fine tuning a lot of those things and improving the schemes that you are running. The situation last year, guys were trying to figure out what the cadence was or where to line up in the huddle. How you call certain formations. There is so much that has to be learned by everyone. Now, a majority of us know what we are doing and can line up. Bring the young guys along. Everyone can play that much faster because they know what they are doing and they are sure of it.

Q: How did you find out about the Odell trade? What has your reaction been?
A: I found out just watching TV one night. I just came across the (tracker) at the bottom of the screen. Started to get a few texts. That is how I found out. The reaction, I wanted to reach out to him. Odell has been a teammate for five years and has been a friend. These circumstances, you think about the player involved. It is more than just a player; it is someone you have a relationship with. You think more about that person, how they are handling it and that they are OK and doing well with it.

Q: Did you get in touch with Odell right away? Have you been in touch?
A: I’ve been in touch with him, yes.

Q: Do you ever see yourself announcing your final season like some Yankees greats (Jeter, CC, Mariano Rivera) or going more of the traditional route and announcing after the season?
A: I think I will go the traditional route. I thought that was a baseball thing. I know some basketball players have done it, but I don’t see going out that way.

Q: How do you replace such an explosive player as Odell?
A: Guys have to step up. We have good players on this team. Talented receivers and running backs. We played the last four, five games of the season without him. We were able to score points and move the ball. He is a tremendous player and was a tremendous player for us. There are certain things that he can do that not everyone can do, but we still have guys that can play and help us be a tremendous offense and score a lot of points.

Q: How surprised were you by the Odell move?
A: I think after being in the NFL for 16 years, I don’t think there are a whole lot of surprises anymore. You learn to deal with everything. You learn to adjust, you move on and do my job. Do it to the best of my ability and get the players that are here up to speed. That is the great thing about football. I am excited about the players that we have and the additions that we have made. Get everyone up to speed and on the same page. Keep moving forward.

Q: Are you anticipating the Giants drafting a QB this year?
A: Yes, I can see the Giants getting a young quarterback. I understand that. I still have to do my job. I will do my part. Same as last year. Go out there, play quarterback, win football games. That is what I am trying to do.

Q: You talked earlier about the Giants having to make a decision at quarterback? What was the decision like for you? Coming back and wanting to play again.
A: I made that decision pretty quickly. I still wanted to play. I told the Giants that very quickly. I didn’t have to think about it long. This is what I do and what I like to do and I have worked extremely hard the last few months to get ready. I liked how the team rallied toward the end of the year with the coaches. Everyone got on a better page together. Could have won a few more games but had great opportunities to win. We are headed in the right direction.

Q: When did you receive clarity that they wanted you to come back?
A: I had some talks with Mr. Gettleman and coach Shurmur within the last month or so. They told me that I would come back and be on the team this year. I got word within the last month.

Q: What was that conversation like right after the season with Gettleman?
A: Just telling them that I still want to play and feel like I can still play. Just want to be a part of this moving forward. Just told them that, where I was and how I was thinking.

Q: Did you walk out of that conversation unsure about?
A: It was right after the season, so they had a lot to look at and a lot to go over. I just wanted to let them know how I was feeling before they made their decision.

Giants’ Bethea on NY’s recent moves: ‘I know some Giants fans might not like it, but it’s just a part of the business’

The New York Giants have overhauled their roster this offseason. Gone are three of the team’s best players in 2018: Odell Beckham Jr., Landon Collins, and Olivier Vernon. Some might say this team is rebuilding, but according to the newest Giant, safety Antoine Bethea, who signed with the team after two seasons in Arizona, the Giants are not rebuilding.

“No, it’s not a rebuilding team,” Bethea said at a press conference today. “At the end of the day, we have to go out and play on Sundays. Regardless of the names you have on paper, you still have to go out there and perform. You get a good nucleus, some good guys that can work together. Obviously, the league year just started. I know upstairs, they’re doing what they need to do to build a great team. As players, our job is to come out there and put our best performance, our best foot forward and put the best product we can put on the field.”

Obviously, after the moves the Giants have made thus far in the offseason, many Giants fans are unhappy, but the 13-year-old veteran knows that the business of football can be very tricky.

“I’ve been in this league a long time, and I’ve seen things go on,” Bethea said. “It’s just a part of the business. I know some Giants fans might not like it, but it’s just a part of the business, and we have to keep going.”

It should be interesting to see what the 2019 Giants look like when the season starts. On paper, it seems like a rebuild. However, we’ll have to see the other moves this team makes in the offseason to get a definite answer on whether the Giants are looking to win now or later.