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29 October 2017

Carolina Panthers Postgame Quotes (10/29/17)

HEAD COACH RON RIVERA
 
(On what stood out from the defensive performance)
“A lot of positive things. I thought we did some good things in all three phases. I thought the guys played well. Offensively, defensively, special teams; we gave ourselves an opportunity to win. For the most part, I liked what we did up front. I thought our front seven really got after them. We put our secondary in a little bit of a tough spot. We asked them to cover and I think they did a nice job. They gave us a chance to win the football game.”
 
(On importance of first interception)
“We’re bringing pressure on that. It was good pass rush and guys are playing with vision. That’s the biggest thing, you got to do is play with vision. I thought Mike (Adams) was in a good position to make the play. As we go through it, we look for things that we look to create opportunities on, playing with vision helps you. In that particular instance, it zone pressure with a guy with vision on the ball.”
 
(On using Captain Munnerlyn more)
“Against a specific type of match-up we have to. Captain played the role very well. In fact I know Captain’s mad at himself – he had an opportunity to make a play on a ball thrown over his head and he just missed it. It’s good to see guys out there making plays when they get opportunities.”
 
(On having Luke Kuechly and Kurt Coleman back playing)
“I think communication is probably the biggest aspect of it all. That’s probably the one thing you miss when you have guys that have been in the system. Luke has been in the system for six years, Kurt has been in the system going on three now. Those guys communicate and help to get other guys lined up and it’s a big part of having guys like that back on the field.”
 
(On how big bringing pressure defensively is)
“It’s all about communicating. When you have a guy that can make sure that there’s communication all across the board it really does help you. Taking nothing away from the young guys or the new guys that are getting the chance to just learning what we do and getting a feel for it really helps. Again, Luke’s been in it and Kurt has been in it and having them both out there really shows in that.”
 
(On Luke Kuechly and Kurt Coleman leading the team in tackles in their return)
“It was very good to watch those guys get out there and make plays. You do miss players like that, guys that makes plays. Not just making the tackles themselves, but putting other people in position to make plays.”
 
(On overall offensive performance)
“I think we had our moments. We had a couple opportunities and we missed a couple things. We had one stretch in the first half that was really disappointing. We had three penalties that negated big plays. We had a couple holdings, we had an OPI that they called, and that’s unfortunate because we were moving the ball in all three instances. We can’t self-inflict, we just got to be smart about that.”
 
(On if he’s satisfied with protection Cam Newton received)
“Yes, very much so. One thing that he did, too, was he was very active back there. I think that’s a reflection of the kind of week we had. We had a good week of practice as a football team. I was very pleased with their attitude, the way they came back out and prepared on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. You guys don’t get to hear this but [Julius Peppers] broke them down afterwards and that’s exactly what he said, it all started with the way we practiced. I think that’s huge when a guy like him steps up and says something about the guys. I think they get the importance of having a good week.”
 
(On if Julius Peppers received a game ball for passing Chris Doleman on the all-time sack list)
“Yes. Yes he did. It’s one of those things that unfortunately he has only been around for this season but he’s the type of guy that makes an impact every time he’s on the field. Getting a milestone like that, he deserve it.”
 
(On making Julius Peppers a captain today)
“Again, he’s a guy that I think a lot of guys look up to. When he’s out there I think there’s something that the guys really feel about him.”
 
(On using many different offensive skill players)
“Each guy brought something different to what we do. Also part of it is we took a little bit of pressure off Christian (McCaffrey). I think that really helped Mike (Shula) with his rhythm. I thought there was some really good play calling that went on. We missed a couple of blocks. When it breaks down, it doesn’t look good. There were some things that were really good in terms of using that many different types of guys. It was good to see them get their opportunity. I thought Cameron Artis-Payne for the opportunities he got really stepped to the plate. That was fun to watch. We saw Jonathan’s (Stewart) strength and ability, especially down the stretch when we needed some big runs. That’s what Jonathan does for us.”
 
(On what he’s seen in Cameron Artis-Payne lately)
“His work ethic. First of all, he had a tremendous training camp. Really the difference was looking for opportunities. One of the things we talked about was taking a little bit off of Christian and the obvious choice was Cameron. We talked about that on Friday.”
 
(On not using Christian McCaffrey as a punt returner)
“It’s funny because we made the trade with Kaelin Clay to get Kevon Seymour and then when he became available and we jumped on. We think he is a guy that could add on and we saw that he was explosive in his punt returns. He made some really good decisions. Their punter did a nice job, he had a couple of balls bounce perfectly for him. I thought Kaelin did some things, brought some energy, and took a lot of pressure off of Christian and we saw that.”
 
(On assessing team at the midpoint)
“I think it’s good enough, but there’s a problem throughout being good enough. Sometimes good enough is not good enough. I think we can be better. I think taking a victory like this to heart is a reflection of the way we came out Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and prepared. It’s a reflection of the attitude and the effort the guys gave today and that was huge. Now we got a big one coming up with Atlanta on Sunday at home. It’s an opportunity for us to take another step but we’re going to take that by how we prepare Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”
 
(On incomplete long passes on both sides)
“It was exciting to see. We tried to stretch the field and Cam (Newton) overthrew them. We’ve got some guys that can stretch this field and we got to take those shots. As far as us, defensively we let them twice get behind us and twice we were fortunate it didn’t cost us. We got to keep the ball in front of us, we can’t give up opportunities. I think the way the defense has been playing, especially the last few games, has been tremendous. Those guys have done a great job setting the tone and tempo for this football team and I think our offense is feeding off the energy of our defense right now. I think that’s huge and I think we as a football team have to build on this.”
 
(On the Cam Newton to Kelvin Benjamin touchdown)
“It was very good to see. I think that’s one of those things where when you look at opportunities and you see the right kind of matchups, especially down near the red zone, that’s a shot you should take. Cam felt it and Kelvin (Benjamin) put himself in position to go high and get the ball.”
 
(On James Bradberry’s overall performance)
“I thought he did a nice job. I thought he stepped up to the challenge and he did some things. As I said earlier, we put our [defensive backs] in a tough spot. A couple of times we put them out there on islands and I thought they responded. Coach [Steve] Wilks is very aggressive, which is fine, but to watch these young guys out there constantly being challenged, I’ve said to them a couple times, ‘don’t let them get behind us.’ We got to be smart about that, but these young guys have accepted the challenges.”
 
(On if Trai Turner aggravated his knee)
“I think so. He tried to go back out there but he just didn’t feel it so he came out. They’re taking a look at it right now so we’ll see.”
 
(On the punting performance)
“Both punters punted very well. It was great. I thought Mike (Palardy) didn’t let the wind bother him. I thought he focused in on what his job was. He did a very nice job controlling his punts. In the third quarter he flipped the field a big time one time for us.”
 
(On how to avoid falling into a skid)
That’s huge because it puts in a good position right now. We’ve got a division foe coming up, a team that we know well and a team that knows us well so it will be a very good game. It’s something we have to focus in on and take advantage of. They are coming in and who knows, I think this will be a good matchup.”
 
(On what the key was to limited Jameis Winston)
“I think part of it was our pass rush. I think our guys did a nice job getting upfield and getting after him. I think some of it was the gameplan against him. I thought our guys handled it very nicely and made some plays. That’s a big part of it, but I think what we did in terms of pressuring the quarterback really helped.”
 
QUARTERBACK CAM NEWTON 
 
(On his general thoughts on the game)
“It was a great team win.”
 
(On the performance of the defense)
“Defense played exceptional. Defense played exceptional. Man, you know it’s great to have [Linebacker] Luke [Kuechly] back out there. They just created a lot of turnovers that we needed as a team just for the moral, just played very stingy. Offensively, it took us a while to get going, but we’re going to have games like this. We just have to find ways to keep pushing forward to will a win.”
 
(On getting momentum on both sides of the ball)
“I mean it’s great. It does so much with the field position battle. You know last week, it’s tough knowing that you’re starting inside the 10, inside the 10. Now this week, when you’re getting the ball started at the 50, we’re supposed to put more points up, but this is a good team. We know this is a good team. It’s a division opponent. They know us, we know them. I said that earlier. Now we just have to find ways to keep the ball moving forward. You know if we do that, it would be easier for us.”
 
(On what he saw on the pass protection)
“It was just a one-on-one situation with him and I think they did a great job all week, well all game of having a plan with Benji [Kelvin Benjamin] and he just made an unbelievable play. I know it was extremely tough and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t want me to share it, but it’s extremely tough for him right now going through a stage where you know it’s really his first time playing in Florida with the loss of his mom. I was praying for him all game just that he would keep everything in a role. He’s a person that’s an unbelievable teammate. He comes to work each and every day. He may not be the talkative person all the time, but I guarantee you, when you want people in your foxhole, Kelvin Benjamin is the person that you want. You know you can just see it on his face. He’s usually a very enthusiastic person come gameday, and man, I could just see it. For him to come out here and give us everything he had. I know it’s very emotional for him coming back, so this was kind of a game hinted towards him. So, for him to get in the end zone, I know is was well overdue.”
 
(On whether the strong wind was a factor)
“It was more windy than expected. It caught one of the balls early on. Needless to say, you’re still a professional. No one cares about the wind at the end of the day. You just have to get completions and find ways to score points.”
 
(On the importance of the long drive in the first quarter)
“Well in that sense, that’s Panther football. When we can get the run game involved, we can get first downs on first and second downs as well as third downs. That’s us controlling the tempo of the game. That’s giving our defense enough energy. As an offense, we gained momentum throughout the whole drive. We just finding ways to put the ball in the end zone, so that’s just what we’re capable of and we just have to have more of it.”
 
(On being 5-3 going into the second half of the season)
“It’s alright. I’m not going to play Debbie Downer. I’m not going to allow anyone to play Debbie Downer for us. At the end of the day, it’s a lot of teams that wish they were 5-3. I said this before, the optimism of it is we are 5-3. The negative of it is that we are 5-3. With those games that we lost, we are well aware that we could’ve changed the outcome of that with better play. Offensively, holding myself to a higher standard., but at the end of the day, you can’t get that back. For us, just knowing that moving forward we’re going to celebrate this win for the day and get ready to go for next week’s opponent.”
 
(On the importance of this win to start off a two-week stretch against division opponents)
“Just a one week mentality. We just want to find ways to be 1-0 by the end of Sunday. With that mentality, that got us a win today. A lot of people may say it wasn’t how they wanted it to turn out, but it was how we wanted it to turn out. We got the win and we’re expecting bigger things moving forward.”
 
CORNERBACK JAMES BRADBERRY
 
(On what the secondary did well in today’s game)
“I feel like we played physical with them. We weren’t scared of the matchups. They’re great receivers. We went out there and played aggressive. We knew they were going to be behind us if we dig, get hit with the double move or messed up at the line of scrimmage. So, it was an all-around good defense.”
 
(On getting linebacker Luke Kuechly and free safety Kurt Coleman back from injury)
“They’re our leaders, so any time you get those guys back it adds some confidence to your whole overall feeling. Having those guys back out there, we knew we were going to come out here and play a good, aggressive game.”
 
(On Kuechly’s interception)
“It was very big. They were getting ready to score on us for a second. They were gaining some momentum, but when we came up with that interception it, kind of, took that away from them and gave it to our offense.”
 
(On if wins come down to a handful of plays and if they made those plays today)
“Definitely. I feel so.”
 
LINEBACKER LUKE KUECHLY
 
(On his first game back from injury)
“It was good. I missed playing last week. Those guys did a good job. It’s always fun to be back out there with the guys. We have a good team. We have a bunch of good people out there. It’s just fun to go out there and play football and get a win with the guys. I think we did a really good job in all three phases. I think Mike Palardy did an excellent job of punting the ball. When they start backed up as much as they did this week with Mike killing the ball like that, it makes our job a lot easier.”
 
(On the performance of the defense’s front seven)
“The front four did a great job. I don’t know how many sacks we ended up with, but they got pressure and sacks. I think ‘Cap’ [Captain Munnerlyn] had a couple plays off the edge. I think maybe Shaq [Thompson] did too. When those guys rush like that, it makes our job a lot easier to cover.”
 
(On the defense creating takeaways)
“You have to get them and you have to get them as many as you can in bunches. We have been working as hard as we can the past few weeks to try to get them out. Sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t, but the guys up front did an excellent job of rushing today. Like I said, when they rush and pressure like that, the ball comes out quick.”
 
(On his interception)
“We were running a pressure and I think they got some good pressure on him (Jameis Winston). Like I said, if you can just get to your spot where you need to be, sometimes the ball just finds you. Those guys did a great job of getting after the quarterback. We talked about a couple routes like that all week. It’s fun when everything kind of works together.”
 
(On the performance of the defense over the last two weeks)
“We’re playing good. I think [defensive coordinator Steve] Wilks and all those guys are doing an excellent job of game planning and putting us in position to be successful and utilizing what we do well. Those coaches listen, they’re not hard-headed. They do a great job with us. They motivate us. The do a good job of making sideline corrections and in-game adjustments. It’s fun to play for them.”
 
(On winning a game after losing two in a row)
“Three in a row is not a good thing. No better way to get back on track than in a divisional game. It’s hard place to play. That’s a really good offense. We came away and did some really good things today.”
 
 
(On calling the plays in the defensive huddle and having free safety Kurt Coleman back in the lineup)
“I just think you come out and it depends what the call is. You have to get the front lined up and a lot of times those guys already know what they are doing. If you have a pressure on, you have to try to coordinate all that. The thing that is good about this team is Kurt and Mike [Adams], on the back end, can do a lot of that themselves. Mike has been around forever and Kurt is a guy that has been around for a long time too. We have three layers of the defense and everyone kind of communicates. I just try to get everybody the play and those guys are all smart enough to know what to do. Star [Lotulelei] and ‘KK’ [Kawann Short]  and those guys inside do a good job. My job is easy. I get the call from [linebackers coach] Al [Holcomb] and try to make sure everybody knows it and make sure the front looks right and then I just let those guys play.”
 
RUNNING BACK CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY
 
(On the whole team making plays to win the game)
“Definitely, I think football is about making plays. You can’t win if you don’t make plays, so a lot of guys stepped up today. Defense did a hell of job and we capitalized on some plays, but we’re happy. 5-3, we’re moving on.”
 
(On the impact of the 17-play drive for the team)
“It was huge to keep the ball, time of possession and also just to continue to move the ball north. We do well when we’re in a rhythm.”
 
(On feelings towards setting a Panthers record for most receptions by a running back in a single season)
“I mean, yeah. I’d rather win, but it’s a cool accomplishment.”
 
DEFENSIVE END JULIUS PEPPERS
 
(On whether his sack today that ranks him fourth all-time sack leader and his increasing accolades mean anything to him right now)
“Not right now. Right now, I’m more excited about us getting a road win because this is really important for the team. I’m not trying to diminish the other stuff that happened because that’s a big deal too, but more importantly is what’s going on with everybody in this locker room. Everybody contributed today, everybody did their part and it was a great team win.”
 
(On the keys to stopping Tampa’s passing)
“I thought we did a great job of getting pressure on him. I thought [Defensive Coordinator Steve] Wilks brought the pressure a good bit today. Back end, they covered up pretty well. It all works together. Front coverage, I thought everybody did what they were supposed to do.”
 
(On where this defense ranks among others he’s played on)
“Well again, there will be a time for reflection. We got what, eight more, six more, seven more games left to play? So, at the end of the season we may be able to compare stats and things like that, but right, I feel like everybody’s working hard. Everybody’s embracing the process, embracing the grind of the season. We continue to work to get better, I’m happy about that.”
 
(On being 5-3 midway through the season)        
“We feel like, obviously, we feel like were a playoff team. We like where we are, we could be a lot worse, but it also could be better. We’re never going to be satisfied with anything we do, but to be 5-3 right now and get the road win, get off the two-game skid, it was big for us. I think for the confidence of the team more than anything too.”
 
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