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Greg Olsen Q&A

Posted Jan 22, 2016

Tight end discusses how Carolina's even-keel approach continues to pay dividends, breaks down challenges posed by NFC Championship foe Arizona.

On Panthers' week of preparation for NFC Championship: "I think it's been great. I think one thing around here that we always pride ourselves on is that we prepare well. Our guys put a lot of effort into their preparation. There's a lot that goes on before Sunday, before everyone sees you out on the field. There's a lot of meetings, a lot of installation, lot of small things, details that you need to grasp. The better your preparation, all that does is give you a chance on Sunday to go out and play well and win."
On how team handling everything involved in the week: "I think we're handling it well. I think obviously, we're happy to be in this position but we're not satisfied, and I think that's the balance that you have to find. This has been an incredible journey this season. We've had our fair shares of ups. I think the more you win, the more you realize just how special these seasons are and the urgency and understanding that you want to try to take advantage of the position that you find yourself in because these seasons don't come around very often. So, our idea of capitalizing on this and maximizing this season is clear."
On challenge posed by Arizona's defense: "They're very good. They're attacking, they play physical, they play hard, they've got a lot of speed. They've got some big boys up front that can really get after you both run and pass. They are good on the back end. They've got one of the best corners in the league. So, again, similar to last week. You look at all three levels. They're got great talent, they have a great scheme that they've been implementing there for a while, and they haven't missed a beat. They've overcome a couple injuries as everyone has, and they are playing as well as anybody in the league on that side of the ball for sure."
On controlling emotions with Super Bowl so close: "I think the big key is just understanding what's at stake. You're playing one game. We joke, we've only got to play one game this week. This isn't best of seven series, you don't have to win multiple. You've got one game to win, and then everything is in front of you. So, it's the same approach we've gone through these last couple weeks. These are one-week seasons now. And all of our efforts, all of our time, all of our energy needs to be focused on the moment."

On whether weather will be a factor: "Yeah, I don't think it will have much impact on us. We've gotten a lot of good work in thus far. … Friday and Saturday are mostly walkthrough and mental-type practices, so I don't think it will impact our preparation at all. They are saying Sunday appears that it's going to be a great night weather wise, so I don't think there's going to be any outside factors. I think it's going to be a great game, two good teams and great conditions."

On head coach Ron Rivera's "keep your personality" approach with team: "Yeah, I think there's a fine line, and I think we do a good job of understanding where that line is. Keeping your personalities, being yourself, being what got us here, but at the same time understanding that there is a way to go about things. I think we do a good job here of finding that balance. We do have some characters, I'm sure a lot of you know. We have guys that enjoy themselves, they have fun, but the one thing that is a common thread throughout the entire team down to every guy is we have a bunch of professional guys who understand how to work, what it means to work and just how important this is to a lot of people. This is not just a game. This is something that we take a lot of pride in. In order to give yourself a chance on Sunday, you need to approach it that way throughout the week."
On the "Creedbombing" craze around locker room: "I got pulled into the Creedbomb. I don't know how the Creedbomb really blew up. You guys are going to have to talk to Ben Jacobs about the Creedbomb, that's more his thing. We are more just enjoying the ride. I'm not sure how my name got pulled in, I do enjoy the Creed lyrics as he walks to practice every day. I'm not even really sure how that started, but I'm pretty amused about how big the story has gotten. Ben is our Creedbomber, you guys have to talk to Jacobs, but Brett Nabes (assistant strength coach Brett Nenaber), you guys know Brett right? He's got the best Creed voice."
On enjoyment level right now: "I think guys have definitely enjoyed this season - there hasn't been a whole lot not to enjoy. But again this season is not just because we decided to play well. This season has been years in the making, developing this culture, developing the ways we do things around here. Started when Ron got here in 2011. It started all the way back then, building a culture, building a foundation, getting the right mix of guys and of course when you have good players, at the end of the day that's a big part of this. It's been a great journey, but again I will be very disappointed if we don't see this thing all the way through. That's our approach."
On quarterback Cam Newton's readiness for the moment: "He's been the best player in the league, and when you have that guy on your team you feel pretty good about that. As far as how he has grown, I don't think he has to approach it any different than he has these past 16-17 games and the past four years of his career. He plays well in big moments, he prepares hard during the week. He has a bunch of guys around him who understand what our roles are to kind of run this offense. and everyone buys into that."

On not looking ahead: "I don't think you try to make yourself only do it this week. It has been our approach for years. Years ago, our approach was don't worry about our playoff run, don't worry about where we are. Worry about winning this game and erase everything else out. Those were years we were 3-8 and 6-10, all those years we were struggling, well now you flip it around for the opposite reason but you still have that one-week, one-game mentality. And that's not just something you learn in one week, that's been the culture around here for years and when you get to situations like this, it allows you to be prepared for these moments when you dial in and focus on one day. We need to win one game at home."
On the offense's challenge versus the Cardinals: "Pressure and aggressiveness is evident through their entire team. Specifically on defense, they are not afraid to put guys on islands and bring people. They are going to bring people from both sides of the field in all situations. That's their style, they do it well. They have a lot of guys that are good getting back at the quarterback, both D-line and perimeter guys who are good aggressive guys that can win one-on-one in the backfield.  It's a very big challenge, there's no doubt about it. You have to be prepared for where they are coming from, and even more so the guys on the outside you have to win. You're going to have some one-on-one matchups you have to win, and if the ball is tight and the window is tight, you have to go get it."