HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
First of all, obviously credit to Coach Flores and Miami. They did everything you need to do to win the football game from special teams to offense to defense. For us obviously we’re really disappointed. That was not a strong performance in any way, shape or form. I’ll be honest with you guys. I’ll happily answer a lot of your questions today. There’s a lot of things I have to watch the tape and process because we came in this game very confident, expecting to play very well. Really couldn’t get anything going on offense, turning the ball over, struggling up front, any good run we had was a penalty. And then defensively I thought we hung in there for a while. But just weren’t able to do enough. Needed some help maybe from the offense. Tried to fake the punt in the second half to get some momentum going in our direction, hit on that and then weren’t able to finish it. Put PJ in in the fourth quarter because he knows two-minute and the rally stuff obviously better than Cam because of his experience, but just a poor day all around. I think we as a team came in having a great week feeling like we were going to be very confident and locked in and they overwhelmed us at times and credit to them, so we have to go back to the drawing board and regroup.
Will Cam start moving forward?
Yeah, I’m not making any changes or anything like that right now. The other day we weren’t protecting the quarterback worthwhile at all. Didn’t seem fair to keep Cam in there getting hit. PJ, give him a chance to play and at the same time Cam just hasn’t had a lot of experience in that part of the game that unfortunately we were in.
What’s going wrong on the field on Sundays?
Stay at it. It’s resonated five times. Didn’t resonate seven times. You just keep grinding at it, keep working at it. We finished 5-11 last year. We thought we’d be better this year. I think we have a chance to be better this year. We didn’t have games like this last year, though. Really disappointing games. I think the one thing we have to recognize is last year we weren’t taken real seriously. Now we’re sitting there, we have McCaffrey back, we have Cam Newton playing, D.J. Moore, Donte Jackson, all these guys. We’re getting people’s best shots. We didn’t make near enough plays to make a win. When you say I take about accountability — I don’t know that I speak about that as much as you guys talk to the players and they say we’re going to be more accountable, we’re going to do this. I say the same thing I’ve been saying since I got here because I know that at the end of the day great programs, great franchises, great teams are built on a core foundation that doesn’t change. You don’t react to the circumstances. Doing our jobs and all those things, I say all the time, I’ll say again, it’s really hard sometimes to do your job. Sometimes your job is to block a three technique and he gets the best of you. All that being said, I like our team. I like our guys. We have five games left. We’ll give them a break here this week a little bit, give them a chance to regroup, refresh and bring them back next Monday. They’ve done a lot of work. Bring them back next Monday and try to play one game at a time in a very humble fashion, do our jobs at a high level, prepare at a high level.
What is the message to them after a game like this?
I’ll probably keep that between us. As I said to you, I need to process a lot of stuff in terms of what I said, but not too much other than just that, that I probably wouldn’t share. I’m not sad, I’m not angry, I’m not — at the end of the day when you have games like this, I think everyone has to look at themselves first. We’re very quick sometimes in life to start saying you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do a better job at everything that I do, Phil, Joe, all the coaches, players. We had them in 3rd and 22 and we have a taunting penalty. We haven’t had a taunting penalty all year. You have to do the things that cause you to win. Kind of what I said, we’ll take a week to regroup our bodies a little bit and minds, get focused on five straight games. I invited them not to talk about anything other than just playing good football when we get back, prepare, do our job, not a lot of hey we’re going to start doing this; just everybody do what you’re supposed to do and we’ll probably be okay. All that being said, I don’t want to take a lot of credit away from Miami. They physically overwhelmed us at times. They ran the football. They stopped the run for us and they got after the quarterback. MJ went down, Christian went down, so we had some guys — needed some guys to step up and just never enough plays.
What happened with Christian?
He rolled his ankle so he was trying to go in the second half, but was never quite able to come back to the same level.
You mentioned Michael Jordan. What happened with him?
Just had a little tightness in his hamstring.
Is this a product of fatigue because of a late bye week?
Yeah, I just don’t — I don’t like to make excuses, and I feel like if I let us off the hook it would be an excuse. I appreciate these guys. We’ve been together for four months. We reported to Wofford four months ago. We’ve played 12 straight games. But so have the Miami Dolphins. They’ve played 12 straight games. The penalties, the drops, the blocked punt, blocked the wrong guy. You know, it’s one thing when you get run over and a guy blocks a punt. That’s football. But when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do — you can play 60, 70 plays in a game and come out and say, man, I played 59 great plays, I had one bad play, but those start to add up. It’s not a real fancy statement, but it’s just the phase that we’re in. It’s just you have to grind your way through it, work your way through it, and hopefully we’ll come back and play five better games.
The penalties and the drops, why weren’t your guys ready?
I wouldn’t say that they weren’t ready. I don’t live in that world. That’s other people’s worlds. To me it’s not like this big global thing, it’s an aggregation. Michael Jordan is out there playing on a bad hamstring and gets called for hold. Pat Elflein gets called for a hold at the end. It’s a play that happens every play. The plays I worry about are like the taunting. That’s just unacceptable. I wouldn’t say we weren’t ready. I’d say we got outplayed today. That’s harder for me to say, but we got outplayed, we got outcoached. Credit to them.
In the passing game, you defended Joe Brady’s play calling. Do you still stand by that after today?
I don’t even know if I’ve defended that. I said we had to run the ball more. I think I’ve always looked at it very even keel. I’m just not going to be super inflammatory like everybody wants me to be. Like it’s this, it’s this. It’s like, was the play calling good? We’ll go back and watch the tape and look. We went in with a plan. Every time if we run the ball on 1st down if you get a penalty — I just want to say I put the penalties on the coaches, too. We as coaches, that’s our responsibility, that’s our job. It’s also the men in that locker room’s job. If everyone has a shared responsibility you have a chance. But Joe called the game, Phil called the game kind of the way we planned on doing it. Chase called the game. We faked a punt, we had a punt blocked. We have to be better in a lot of different areas. Just don’t know now if sitting right here is the right time to be responding to all that. That’s why I said I’d look at it talk to you guys tomorrow.
What have you seen out of Cam that maybe disappointed you?
It would be hard — I’d have to see the protection. I’m only seeing like the end result. We knew we came out and they were going to blitz us. I said it to you guys. We burned them on the first one for the long play to DJ. I thought early in the game the first two passes he threw hit us in the hands. We had a chance to catch those. As it evolved or devolved I should say, I’d have to watch the tape. Just wasn’t a good day, but it wasn’t one of those days I could sit there and say it was just him. I purely believe that Miami outplayed us today, outcoached us today. They were better than us today. It’s pretty simple to me.
Without seeing the film, what did you think of the offensive line’s play overall?
I mean, obviously it’s not — five sacks is not good enough. Penalties are not good enough. Brady had to go in and play a left guard and Dennis battled through it. But I think we all know it’s not good enough, the result, in terms of why it happened or what happened and all that, I’d probably need a little more time to look at that, but just never got anything going.
Did Haason tell you what led to the taunting penalty?
Does it matter? He told me, yeah, guy grabbed me. Does it matter? I told him, does it matter? I mean that respectfully toward you. So the guy grabbed you, okay. We had them 3rd and 22, we needed those plays to win that game. We’ll have to learn from it and keep growing. We haven’t had a taunting penalty all year. Haven’t even been warned on one. We’ve had other people hit us and turn and look at our sideline. Our guys have been great, then all of a sudden we get in this ballgame. I could psychoanalyze for hours; these guys really want to win. They’re trying to hard to win and then they start not having success and they try even harder. It just gets gets away, they get emotional a little bit and guys are yelling at each other because they want to win. That’s why I like — to sit in this seat you have to stay a little bit more like this then you can be like this, right. There’s no doubt in my mind that the guys were ready to play. It was going to be a tough game. We knew it was going to be a tough game. I don’t think they weren’t ready. I just think we got outplayed in some areas and started to panic a little bit. Did some things that are uncharacteristic, and when you can learn when things are not going well to settle down and take a breath and go back to your technique, then you have a chance. A lot of our players are not doing that at the level I need to get them to do it, so that’s on me.
Why is your pass defense breaking down?
I don’t know. What were they today? I’m sorry. Sorry, guys. I want to make sure I give you a better answer. Yeah, we’re playing man. We’re bringing heat. They maxed up a couple times and caught it. I think the one that had the long over route that kind of broke the game a little bit, that was zone coverage, and we just break up and tackle that. We missed the tackle so it wasn’t as much coverage as it was the tackling. We knew they were going to go 17. We knew they kept us off balance with all the RPOs. A lot of that stuff in the flat was just run pass tag. We decided to come out today and play a lot of man, try to put pressure on them, get sacks on them. But they just won on some of those. But the big one that was disappointing was that over route that he split for that long play, and I believe based upon what I saw on the field and then watching the replay on the Jumbotron, the post player came up and just missed the tackle. We kind of do what we do. We play man free and we bring a lot of pressure and we have some good results from it. We had some sacks. We caused a sack fumble, all those things, but just a couple of them as you said the last two weeks we’re not getting there.
Was Stephon available more today?
Yeah, we planned on playing him as much as needed. Mainly 3rd down and the red zone but I don’t know how many he ended up with
QB CAM NEWTON
What do you think contributed to the struggles on offense today?
We just — we lost footing early. And we have to find ways to get back on track. That’s what it came down to. Nothing that they did was out of the ordinary. It wasn’t like we weren’t prepared. It just comes down to execution.
When you say you lost footing, what do you mean?
It’s hard to get on a rhythm, three and out three and out three and out. We have to find ways to sustain drives and stay out on the football field. And anybody defensively, offensively, you know, it’s just about wearing down and I think offensively we wore our defense down today. And we’ve got time off. Just gotta come back, be ready to play complementary football, all three phases. That’s pretty much what it came down to.
You said last week things are going to be all right. Things seemed to fall apart. What can you do now?
There’s no need to paint it. Don’t have to paint it. So when it’s all said and done, come back to the core basis of what the brand is. As Coach Rhule always speaks about, trusting in the players and trusting in the process and just holding yourself accountable. And that’s what it pretty much comes down. No secret play. I say the same things each and every time. But that’s what it pretty much comes down to. Guys doing their part in the whole overall grand scheme of things.
Matt said he put P.J. in the fourth quarter because he had better grasp of the two-minute offense. Where do you feel like you need to get to be super comfortable?
I would take this time to really dive into the whole offense. I think today it really got exposed because of the situation. And not having a full grasp. But it’s not nobody to blame more so than just the situation that I came into. So having this week to kind of self-scout, so to speak, and really dive into the root of what this offense is about and that’s what I plan on doing.
Just the two-minute, that’s it. I spoke with coach. He said we’re going to put P.J. in because he has a better grasp of the signals and the two-minute thing because there are obviously things that’s not necessarily in the game, the base game plan. And I was fine with that. And at the end of the day it’s about being a professional. At this particular time I had more than enough opportunity to keep the game in the balance and there’s no need to put up a fight with that.
How much was the pressure a factor on you because seemed like a six foot five guy, having passes tipped, not normally tipped?
Doesn’t matter how tall you are because they’re tall too. It’s really not about the logistics of why they’re getting batted, they’re getting batted because they’re good too. So for us we just have to go back, lick our wounds, be prepared to mend and heal this week get on the same page moving forward.
You said when you signed with the Panthers winning is a big thing for you, do you think you misjudged maybe where this team was on the scale?
Absolutely not. Absolutely not. This is the NFL. Nothing’s promised. Just because Cam Newton is on your roster it doesn’t mean you’re just going to win. Just because it’s a feel-good story, doesn’t mean you’re going to win. I’m well aware of that. I think in this situation we all have to come to grips with who we are, and I’m putting blame on myself first before I can even look at somebody else. I have to be better. I know that. And it starts with mentally tapping in and understanding what Coach Rhule and obviously Coach wants to do and that’s how we’re going to rock and roll.
The sideline is described as being flat when things started to unravel today. Did you think that? If so how do you overcome that?
It’s just about sustaining drives. Sustaining drives. I think defensively they were giving us opportunity. They gave us opportunity and luckily right before the half we snuck away three points. So coming back after halftime, three and out, penalty. Got stopped on third down, we still found a way to get a first down through special teams and just the same monotonism of doing the same things. And Coach gives us the keys to win and one of those keys was eliminating penalties. And we didn’t adhere to that.
How would you explain the two interceptions?
I mean, Xavier Rhodes — Howard, I’m sorry — we knew everything going into this game how we needed to attack. So I really only see one of — what was the other? Undercut. That was a bad throw. It was a bad throw. So before I can tell blame, it all starts with me. And that’s just me holding myself accountable. Coach did say about one of the keys of the game is protecting the football and I put the ball in jeopardy too many times today. So from an offensive perspective, what I can speak on, we weren’t good enough to sustain enough drives, too many three and outs and protecting the football. And anytime you can’t do that, it’s going to be tough.
LB HAASON REDDICK
What happened on that taunting call?
Saw what happened during the play that I didn’t like. I should have had my emotions in check. But what happened I didn’t like. And I reacted, which is unacceptable. Being a leader on the team, a veteran, completely unacceptable. I take all responsibility for that.
What do you think of the team’s overall, just accountability, the message coming into the week, what was the mantra, do you think?
I don’t know. I have to watch the tape, starting with me and seeing what everybody else did. As a veteran, just to see where can I talk to guys to help improve, but it starts with me. As I already addressed the taunting penalty, and third and one, whatever down and distance, was completely unacceptable. I’m holding myself accountable for that. As you said, came in talking about accountability and wanting to play — I let my emotions get the best of me. As a veteran I should never let that happen.
There was a lot of talk about doing your job this week. Seemed as if you all came into the game with a good game plan, a good week of practice, then to come out and put on the performance you saw, what leads to that?
I wish I knew the answer. I don’t. Like I said, we’ve just got to keep coming and working and pushing to get over this hump, that’s all I can say.
What happened in the huddles? What’s the message in the huddle?
We just went about the next play what happens on the previous play is always above us, it’s another play to be played, we can’t continue to harp on what happened one, two, three plays ago. You’ve got to get your mental right and continue to play. It’s football, it’s the game. These things are going to happen. You’ve just got to keep pushing through the game continue to play.
Is this defense still confident in itself?
We better be. You know? Like I said, this is a game. Everything don’t go right all the time. There’s some things we could have done better, I’m sure of. But I hope guys aren’t hanging their heads or not confident in themselves. And if that’s the case or something that comes up, the veteran guys, we’ve got to rally the guys and get their mental back in the right place.
What was probably the most frustrating part in this?
Just losing the game, at the end of the day. Nobody comes out and thinks they’re going to lose or are prepared to lose a game. So the fact that we lost is probably what caused that.
DE BRIAN BURNS
The cameras did catch you pretty animated with your team, whatever you want to call it. What was the most frustrating part in that moment? What were you trying to get across?
It was just really in the heat of the moment. I was just trying to refined that spark, find that edge. We were lacking that at that point in time. But the main message is the same thing it’s always been from day one. It’s just do your job. Just gotta do your job and everything will work itself out.
In terms of obviously doing your job, accountability, where is the team at with all that, after this loss? Where was it today?
We started out pretty happening. But just gotta keep it going. You’ve got to withstand, like, the big plays they make, can’t get too down on yourself because it can just spiral into, if you feel me, like, what happened. You know what i’m saying? It’s about mental endurance and really not getting too high, too low, trying to stay even keeled and just (indiscernible) and do your job. It’s simple.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the defense as a whole. What do you think has led to the struggles recently?
I don’t know, that’s a hard question to answer. I guess it’s cliché and (indiscernible) just really doing your job. Like everybody gotta be held accountable to their own job. Every man has a job. Like I told you all before, one guy can mess up and it can be a hit. You know what i’m saying? It’s really simple and it’s cliche, but it’s all about that.
After the last two weeks are you confident that you can play the way you were playing previously?
Yeah, I mean like I’m a firm believer on not getting away from what you do. I struggled a couple times early in the season. And I just stuck to my process. I feel like my phase will come, and what I do will start to happen. I just want to play within the defense I don’t want to hurt the defense. I feel like as long as we stay with our process, stay with what we started with, I mean that’s all you can do.
Has this team gotten away from that?
From the process? I think I would say so a little bit. You could find yourself not doing what you normally do, and it’s just all about bouncing back, though. Like it’s human nature to probably get a little frustration or whatever the case may be. But it’s all about bouncing back and getting back to yourself and your process.
The playoff chances statistically dropped to below 10 percent at this point. How frustrating is it to see the season start to go that way?
In situations like this, personally, I don’t even think about that. It’s not even that kind of deal. It’s just mentally it’s more about pride in my gut. I’m fighting proud out there. At the end of the day, it’s just, like, I’m not going to give up, you know what I’m saying? Throughout the game, no matter how bad it’s going, I’m still not going to give up. That’s what I’m fighting for. I’m not thinking about playoff zone. I’m thinking about getting better and staying with process. That will come. See what I’m saying? It’s just being the same guy every day. See what I’m saying? I’m more focused on that getting better and all that stuff.
Haason came in here a second ago and said it was completely unacceptable for him to lose his cool and get that taunting penalty. Does it surprise guys when you see somebody like him kind of lose it for a second?
No. I mean it’s an emotional game. Like, yeah, it wasn’t a good play. It wasn’t a good call by him. But I’m not going to blame him because I know how emotions can happen in this game. It’s an emotional game. I don’t blame him for nothing. You know what I’m saying? It’s not the smartest thing and didn’t help us out. I’m not going to blame him for that. It could happen with anybody.
How important is this week off?
How important is it? It’s pretty important for guys to get their bodies back. We played, what, 12 straight. It’s pretty important for them to get their bodies back. Honestly I don’t want this week off, personally. That’s just how I feel.
I want to get back on the field. I don’t like having a bad taste in my mouth from what just happened today, see what I’m saying? That’s just personal.