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Game Quotes: Panthers vs. Buccaneers

Posted Jan 3, 2016

Notable quotes from inside the Panthers' locker room following the team's Week 17 victory over Tampa Bay.


On the foundation the Panthers have built: "The biggest thing more so than anything else is this is what the organization stands for and it really does begin at the top with Mr. (Jerry) Richardson. He, a couple years ago, had enough faith in me and gave me the opportunity for my third season, and we have gone forward ever since. The things again that (former general manager) Marty Hurney did initially in terms of putting the core that we have right now and (general manager) Dave Gettleman coming in and putting the rest of the pieces in place. The decisions that Dave has had to make to get control of the salary cap, that has taken a lot of the pressure off us as coaches because he has been able to go out and get the players we have needed to work on, develop and grow to help put this team together.

"This really is about the organization more so than it is anything else. It's about the team, the players and the coaches. I think those guys have done a tremendous job and it goes to what Dave and his staff have done. This is very satisfying, it really is. But we still have a lot of work to do. All we have done is at least guaranteed we can play two games here before we have to see what happens after that. We have to take care of our business. We have a week coming up where we get a chance to look at us and correct a lot of the mistakes and fix a lot of things."

On Carolina's 24 interceptions this season, including two Sunday: "I think it does speak well in what we have tried to establish in terms of ball hawkers, you know guys who are looking to make plays and take the ball away. Again, it's kind of nice to have something like that come up and happen for us as far as our defense is concerned. It's exciting. I think we have a good group of young men who have really taken to the coaching and done what we asked. I think (defensive coordinator) Sean McDermott and his staff have done a really nice job on the defensive side emphasizing takeaways and practicing them every opportunity we get. Because the work hard at it, we get an opportunity to see just exactly what it means for us."

On approach with a Panthers win or Arizona loss assuring No. 1 seed in NFC: "We didn't know what was going on other than our game. That was the bottom line. I told you guys we were not going to be concerned with what anybody else does. We have to take care of our business more so than anything else. We have to focus in on what we have to do. That's the most important thing. I still don't know what happened and that is fine with me. Again, it's about us as a football team and what we hope to accomplish."

On play of rookies Devin Funchess and Cameron Artis-Payne: "It's great to see the young guys getting opportunities to contribute. It really is. I'm really proud of the effort we got from them. We have a good group of young men that have gotten opportunities, have gone out there and done some really nice things for us. It's exciting to watch those guys play. This draft class has contributed very, very nicely for us this year. A lot of that starts with Shaq Thompson. We have a good group of young guys who have gotten opportunities and taken advantage of it. It was good to see Devin Funchess get out there and make some plays. Unfortunately he did have one play that you would love to get back as did a couple other guys. But for the most part he did the things we needed him to do, especially without Ted Ginn in there. He became our inside guy, working the post area, working the slants and did a really nice job. He is a big target and made some really big plays. It was great to see Cameron Artis-Payne out there. As I told you guys earlier in the year we were trying to find ways to get him out on the football field and this just happened to be an opportunity. He played really well and did some very nice things."

On Cam Newton's day: "I thought he had a really good day. It was disappointing a couple times they hit us with a couple blitzes that we didn't read correctly in terms of protection. So we missed that one time. Then we didn't read the route properly and should have adjusted for the pressure to give him an open target sooner so he took a couple big hits and sacks. I thought he handled it very well. I thought he made some really good decisions. He really seemed to get in a really good rhythm when we went to the no huddle stuff so that was exciting to see."

On what he learned from how his team bounced back from last week's loss: "That I need to relax sometimes. They really just came through. It was one of those things that I was really concerned on Monday when I saw everybody. They were really down. As I said, I was disappointed as well. I was a little bit concerned when they came back Wednesday and had good energy. Thursday was fine but Friday and Saturday were phenomenal. The personality was back which was exciting to see. I was pretty fired up about that because we have a group of young men that there are some quality characters in that locker room and I'm very proud of this football team."


On the importance of Sunday's victory: "It was extremely big for us to get back on track. To get the positive energy flowing again – coming off an unexpected loss, we can't let that happen anymore. With that all behind us it's irrelevant about our record now going into the playoffs. We've got to be focused, honed in and have to be fast starters."

On bouncing back from the loss and recent injuries: "It still doesn't matter for us because our mantra since Day One has been ‘next man up'. We get guys like Fun (Devin Funchess) and Philly (Brown), (Jerricho) Cotchery is just who he has been. Principal Bers (Brenton Bersin) came in and made some big plays, and we found ways to win football games. We get to get a lot of guys back. We've got a bye week and get to get a lot of guys mended up like Stew (Jonathan Stewart) and Ted (Ginn). CAP (Cameron Artis-Payne) did an unbelievable job today running the ball today and protecting it. We're going to need a lot more like that to continue to be successful."

On importance of homefield advantage for playoffs: "It's extremely big, especially when we take pride in not losing at home. We find our edge in playing in front of our home crowd. Everything feels just right. We don't have to travel to a hostile environment. This is our house and hostile for opponents to come through."

On Devin Funchess' development: "It's been extremely big for him to come and keep getting better every week. Last week I don't think he had a catch, but moving forward his confidence has been shooting through the roof and this is just an appetizer of things to come. He's a person that wants to get better. He knows he's capable of being a top-tier player in this league, and the expectation has been set since day one. With Benji (Kelvin Benjamin) going down, he has still been trying to learn on the fly, and in Week 17 it's fun to watch and see him grow."


On his performance: "It was alright. I still fumbled and gave them three points. That's the only thing I'm worried about right now, just getting better after that and going from there."

On having a week off: "No, we don't have a week off. We've still got to prepare like there's a game coming next week. We're going to go in there and prepare, come in tomorrow, watch the film, break it down and then go at it the rest of the week."


On achieving goals: "When you start talking about what your season goals are, winning the division, making the playoffs step one, getting the first round bye and then clinching home field. So, we've pretty much checked off every box for the team goals that we've set out for this year, and we're two wins away from the Super Bowl. It's a pretty special season so far. We understand that in two weeks we're going to have a good team come in here regardless of what happens, and we've got to be ready to play."

On responding to loss in last game: "Yeah, I think it was good. I think it was good for us to kind of find our rhythm a little bit. Obviously we were disappointed from last week's effort. We put up 38 I think we ended with, so that's pretty good in this league. Obviously the turnovers were big for us, getting those couple of turnovers led to Cam's touchdown there early in the third quarter and kind of put it out of reach. It was a great team win. It was a team that we knew was going to come in and try to cap off their season with a little positive juice, and we kind of shut it down pretty early."


On falling just one game short of perfection: "At the end of the day we have the first round bye, home field throughout. At the beginning of the year that's what you're thinking about if you're going to make a run. Just as when we were taking care of our business we ended up at 14-0 at one point. So, like you said, although we lost that game last week we still had all of our goals ahead of us and that's what we meant by all of that, so it was good to come out tonight and take care of business and take care of the goals we had before us."

On the difference one week made: "It's just about execution. We've been saying it all along. The adversity of the year has revealed who we are. We are 15-1, and we just knew that it would come down to our execution. Execute the simple plays. We're good enough to beat teams with the simple plays, and I think tonight we played a game that we are capable of playing, and that left us at 15-1 with home field throughout."


On taking care of business at home: "It's a big deal. You want to win at home and you want to win going into the playoffs, so that was our big goal this week."

On what this season has meant to fans: "The energy has been incredible all season long, and this season has been so special for this entire city, this entire community. I mean all around the Carolinas, it's incredible what a game and what a sports team can do for everyone and I get it. It's fun, and they've been behind us all year long and we're glad we can give this to them. But we're not done yet."


On his interception:
"Our coaches did a great job all week long of showing that play and when we had the opportunity, it was the right play call and the right situation and he threw the over route, and I was right underneath it and I did a good job of making sure that I caught the ball. That's always the hardest thing to do, catch the ones that are thrown right to you."


On the complete nature of the victory: "We've approached every game this year like that. The mindset is to do our job, play hard, play well and play as a unit and you look at the game today and all three phases did a good job I think. We kicked the ball well, got a big turnover, Joe (Webb) picked it up. Teddy (Williams) popped it out. Cam and the offense did a good job and we got some big turnovers on defense, so same mindset, we just have to come out and do a better job of playing our responsibilities."

On playing into the fourth quarter: "I just do what I'm told. That's how I've kind of done it since I've been here. You let those guys make those decisions, but when you're in there you have to play as hard as you can. It's always a competition between me and that guy over there (Thomas Davis) and everyone on the defense, so whenever they tell us it's time, it's time, but until then you keep playing."


On approach to playoffs: "It's one game at a time. Right now we've got to focus on this bye week and get everybody healthy, bumps and bruises, and just come to practice ready to work and act like we have a game this week."

On defense's role in it all: "We've got to be that playoff, actually championship, defense. We've got to go out there and make a statement. It's something new now. It's crazy because we focused at the beginning of the season on being that playoff defense, and now we're in the playoffs. Now we've got to focus on that championship defense. That's what it's all about."