Saquon Barkley knew he was going to be grilled about pass protection during his Zoom call with media on Thursday. He knew he was going to baited to Tiki Barber questioning his toughness and ability to be a three-down back.
He was ready.
“Tiki’s a legend. Done a lot of great things for this franchise. I’m not going to look at it as disrespect, I’m going to look at it as a challenge,” Barkley said. “Same thing with him, like everyone else, really don’t care about outside opinions. Really only focused about the opinions in this building and try to come to work every single day and get better.”
In case you missed it, here is what Barber said:
“He can not pass protect, and it is starting to become glaring,” Barber said on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “It was probably the only issue he had coming in to the NFL, because he wasn’t asked to do it at Penn State. And now you see him diving on the ground, not sticking his head into people’s chest. It’s going to be a liability, because people see it not, it’s on tape, and it’s going to come out.
“If you watch him for the last couple years, he doesn’t want to block. I learned this early on in my career, because I was a third down back before I was a ‘star’ running back, if you can’t block, you can’t be on the field on third down. You just can’t, because you know those are high blitz and dog downs. You know someone is going to be coming from the safety [position], so you have to recognize what a defense is trying to do, how they’re going to dog or blitz you. Recognition is one, and then two, you gotta go hit a dude! Saquon Barkley is a big man, and he doesn’t want to hit anybody. That is frustrating to watch, he’s a great back, but he’s frustrating to watch trying to pass protect.”
Barkley said Barber’s criticism was his “God given right. He has an opinion. He voiced his opinion. It’s his opinion to have.”
The 5-foot-11, 233-pound Barkley was asked directly if Barber’s assertion that “he doesn’t want to hit anybody” bothered him.
“No. It does not. And to be completely honest the reason why it doesn’t bother me is no disrespect to anyone on this call or anyone outside this when I say I don’t care I truly don’t care about other people’s opinions. I know you can ask my teammates, you can ask anyone in this building, they won’t question my toughness,” Barkley said.
“It’s easy to be an All-Pro clicker and to watch stuff on film and say ‘oh he should have done this, he should have done that, or he can improve on that. That’s the easy way.
“I know how I come to work every single day and I know the belief my teammates have in me. That’s why every single week I’m going to come out and try to improve and get better. Not for you guys and not for anyone outside of here, but for the guys in this building.”
Barkley, in his third season, said “pass pro is not an easy thing to do in this league,” and he knows teams will continue to force him to do it.
“I understand that I probably made some mistakes in pass pro and I put it on film,” he said. “I know it’s going to keep coming, people are going to keep challenging me. It’s a good way to keep me in and stop me from getting into open space and making plays. I’ve just gotta keep working at it.”
Barkley also said he won’t run from, or use as extra motivation, the historically bad stat line he compiled on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It happened. The game happened. I had 15 carries for 6 yards. I think I tied second-lowest of all time or something like that with 15 carries or more. And guess what? Came to work this week with a smile on my face ready to get to work and ready to get better,” Barkley said. ‘It doesn’t matter if you praise me or say negative things about me I’m not going to use that as motivation is to be great myself. I don’t need you guys to push me that way.”