Sep 232019
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Saquon Barkley – © USA TODAY Sports

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According to ESPN, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley’s MRI confirmed a high-ankle sprain injury. Barkley is expected to miss 4-8 weeks of the 2019 NFL season with longer timeline being more likely.

In addition to Barkley, it was revealed that wide receiver Russell Shepard suffered a sprain to his left foot and is being further evaluated. As reported previously linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and LB Tae Davis (concussion) were also injured in the game.

New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media by conference call on Monday to discuss the team’s 32-31 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Opening Statement: I really don’t have a lot to add to what I wanted to say last night with regard to the game. I’ll just try to give you some injury updates on the significant ones. Saquon Barkley has a high ankle sprain—I don’t have anything to add, time frames, anything—I’ll just say it’s a high ankle sprain and we’ll just have to see. Alec Ogletree has got a left hamstring strain. Tae Davis left the game with a concussion, so he’s in the protocol. Then, the last injury that kind of popped up that would be somewhat significant, Russell Shepard has a left foot sprain that he’s getting evaluated. I don’t have much information on him, he’s going through the process of final evaluation as to the extent of the injury. Aside from that, I really don’t have much to say. It was a great win for us, it just goes to show you that you never know what’s going to happen right down to the very end. We did many things not well early in the game, and we found a way in the second half of the game to play well enough to win. Let’s just leave it at that. So, I’ll try to answer your questions.

Q: How big of a hit is it to lose Saquon if it’s for an extended period, which high ankles usually tend to be?
A: Well, we’re just gong to have to see, first off. We certainly believe in Wayne Gallman and we certainly believe that he’ll be able to step in and do his very best, and we’ll just have to see. At some point, we may have to add a running back behind him as we go forward here. But it’s like any injury, it’s very unfortunate to have Saquon out of the lineup. We all know what he brings to the team, but it’s going to fall on all of us to move forward and do what we can to win games.

Q: What are you looking for in a running back? I assume you’ll have to add one to the roster.
A: I’m sort of on record as saying it’s very important that, number one, they’re able to run with the football and gain yardage. I think it’s also super important that they’re able to understand pass protection and who to block with regard to protecting the quarterback. Then, I think one of the things that’s super important is their ability to catch the ball. A lot of times the running back is the outlet and that’s the best choice. Even though you try to keep your eyes downfield, sometimes the runner with the ball in his hands with a little bit of space in underneath coverage is where it needs to go. So, they have to really be able to do all three things.

Q: You guys are always making your free agent lists, what you’re looking for at every position, but with Saquon out, do you re-evaluate whatever list you’ve put together?
A: That’s a dynamic process. Depending on what happens in the game on Sunday, certainly the (pro personnel) guys are ready to go with their different lists of players and what their role might be.

Q: Is there anything you can put your finger on that was different in the first half than the second half as far as things switching up defensively?
A: I can tell you that the calls weren’t much different. I do think sometimes it’s just a mindset. They scored on six possessions—they had the ball six times and scored six times—and then they came out in the second half, and we had some backups playing, but they came out in the second half and I thought we were more disruptive, we created an interception—unfortunately, we turned it over right back—but we created an interception, and ultimately they only scored three points. We still gave up big plays, but they only scored three points in the second half. I think we’re always talking about situational football and this was a game where defensively, I guess it would be their offense, but defensively they were one for five in the red zone, where we were much better, and I think that’s where it comes to. So, even in the midst of playing through the big plays that they made against us when the rubber sort of hits the road and they were in the scoring zone, we did a better job of getting them stopped.

Q: If the defensive calls weren’t much different first to second half, what does that say about your defensive group? Do they have to get a feel of the game early, or is it an effort thing, is it a confidence thing?
A: Well, it’s a young group, as we know, and it got younger when Tree (Alec Ogletree) went out, and I think Ryan Connelly has done a really nice job—he sort of switched his positions, went from being told the calls to making the calls. It’s a young group, so there’s a lot to be learned from each time we go on the field. I think a week ago it was the same story—we weren’t very good in the first half and then we played much better in the second half. We gave up one scoring drive against Buffalo in the second half. So, what it tells me as a coach is we can do it. We’ve just got to do it better starting out the game, and I think that’s going to be the challenge moving forward. It’s just like offensively, we scored on the first drive the first three games, then we have little pockets in there where we’re punting the ball and then all of the sudden we find a way like we did yesterday to score again. So, it’s about consistency—we always talk about starting strong and finishing fast, and we certainly have to handle the first half better.

Q: From an outside perspective, it seems like Saquon’s injury puts more pressure on Daniel to produce as a catalyst to the offense. How do you do that, and will you have to do some things to kind of relieve that pressure, if you view it that way?
A: Well, I don’t view it that way. I’ve already acknowledged the fact that when you lose a player like Saquon, it hurts in some ways, but it creates opportunities for others. That’s just the way it is. Daniel’s just got to do what he can do. I still think it’s important to spread the ball. We’re going to need to run the ball more effectively than we did yesterday—we faced a pretty good front. That was a very good front, our guys battled up front, certainly. But we’ve got to run the ball better, regardless of who’s carrying it.

Q: What was Eli’s demeanor like on the sideline during the course of that game? Was he more involved than a typical backup would be? Can you walk us through that?
A: He was very involved. He was very involved in a way that I would expect any backup to be. He was there… Listen, we were all there in support of Daniel. Me trying to give him the right plays and the people off to the side trying to give him the right advice. It was actually a really good situation for Daniel. Can you imagine being in your first start and sitting next to a guy that’s done it for over 15 years, and done it at a very high level? That had to be very reassuring for Dan.

Q: After seeing how the offense responded to Daniel, do you have any thoughts of maybe you should have done this earlier?
A: No. Nope. Not at all. We found a way to win a game. There were a lot of things we did well, and there are certainly a boatload of mistakes that we have to correct. I make light of it in some ways by saying we’re doing Monday things right now, and we’re getting those things corrected. But no, I feel like I did what I thought was best. At least in this scenario, it played out well for Daniel. He had a good performance the first week out.

Q: In that regard, how much do you believe a change like this can sort of rejuvenate the group, or sort of give them a jolt? I’m wondering how much you believe in that in general, that one move like that can help the whole?
A: I think certainly there are things that become catalysts for whatever. Early in the game… Lost in some of this was we ended up blocking a (PAT) early in the game. So, you don’t know how that affects the last field goal. You never know. A guy that goes in and plays well might give guys confidence. I think everything that we do is connected. There was great excitement on our sideline like there always is. We just found a way to make enough plays to win the game.

Q: You were talking about the running game. Were there times that if Eli were the quarterback, he would have checked out of certain situations, and that’s something that Daniel has to learn?
A: No. There weren’t any of those situations last night if that’s what you’re asking. In terms of run-pass checks, we had a couple that I think were executed properly. Daniel did it in a way that Eli would.

Q: Did you not run Daniel in the preseason intentionally so as to not show everybody exactly what he can do?
A: No. No, there was only one call there that was going to become a potential run. Most of the running around were drop back passes where he felt like it was right to scramble.

Q: Obviously, your last offensive drive, everybody is looking at the clock, seeing the way things are going down. Because it was Daniel out there, was it harder to kind of pay attention to the clock? What was your mindset in that situation? You had to get into the end zone but you didn’t want to leave too much time for them to come back down. Is that a lot on the quarterback out there, you have to see when to snap the ball, that kind of thing? Is it a growing situation or did it play out the way you wanted?
A: No. Listen, there’s a lot made of that now, too. When you need one score to win the game and you’re in a two-minute scenario, you’re doing everything that you can to win it. The ideal scenario, obviously, is to leave them no time to then go back down and score. I get that. But we got down in there low and we were choosing to throw the ball. There were a couple of incompletions, which stopped the clock. Let’s say for instance you convert, and you have another set of downs. Then you still want to have time to do that. Then we didn’t have timeouts. It played out well that we scored. Ideally, you have obviously less time for them. We have to stop them on defense, too, now. But the prime objective is to score. With the time that was left on the clock and a fourth down call, in terms of messing with the clock, your hands are sort of tied.

Q: I know Jackrabbit is your top cornerback and one of your top players on defense, but as that game was going on and Mike Evans was doing to him what we all saw he did to him, was there any thought to giving Jackrabbit help? The last pass obviously could have lost the game for you, and throughout the game, it was a struggle for Jackrabbit.
A: Listen, there are a few calls in every game where a safety will lean one side or the other, or we’re in a split shell or shell coverage, or there’s pressure. Everybody every once in a while gets a little bit of help. That’s just the nature of playing football. Listen, they have really good receivers, and they did a good job of getting them the football. Our guys challenged, and there’s certainly stuff we can learn from that scenario. We don’t want to give up big plays like that. But the thing that we’re going to build on is that when they did get close, we were able to stop them. We’ll work on that. We’ll try to improve it. We’re always looking for ways that we can help the players on a rep or two, and we’ll continue to do that.

Q: The touchdown to (Sterling) Shepard with the two defenders right there. He’s, I think, at the pylon so he’s right by the boundary as well. I’m looking at that thinking that’s a ridiculous throw. Did that one stand out to you for any reasons?
A: That was an outstanding throw and catch. It’s probably a standard route concept, but Shep did a good job. Actually, Shep was interfered with on the way into the end zone. That’s what I think the flag was. But Daniel knew it was a clean look. In his mind, he trusted that Sterling was going to be where he was going to be. No, that was an outstanding play on both parts.

Transcripts of Monday’s media conference calls with the following players are available in The Corner Forum:

The Giants trailed at halftime, 28-10. This was their first victory when trailing by 18 or more points since November 15, 1970, when they fell behind Washington, 33-14, but scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win, 35-33.

The Giants trailed entering the fourth quarter, 28-25. They had lost their previous 23 regular-season games in which they were behind after three quarters. The Giants had last rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to win in the 2016 game against the Bengals.

QB Daniel Jones became the second player since the 1970 merger to throw at least two touchdown passes and run for two scores in his first NFL start (Detroit’s Erick Hipple  was the other in 1981).

Jones is the first Giants rookie quarterback to win his initial career start since Scott Brunner on December 7, 1980 against Seattle.

Evan Engram’s 75-yard touchdown reception was the longest ever by a Giants tight end. The previous long was a 71-yarder by Aaron Thomas vs. Philadelphia on October 17, 1965.

The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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