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Transcript: Ron Rivera on offensive staff changes

Posted Jan 9, 2018

Carolina's head coach met with the media Tuesday to discuss why he's making major staff changes on offense.

Head coach Ron Rivera met with the media Tuesday after he parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey.

Opening statement: “I want to make sure everybody understands that this organization is very grateful to the contributions of Mike Shula and Ken Dorsey. This organization, where we are as a football team – to give you an idea of what I’ve gone through in the last 24 hours – I know yesterday I stated nothing changes, but I did say this was an evaluation. After that press conference yesterday I went upstairs and started looking at some things, going through some notes, and spent an evening doing that. I got up early this morning, 3:15 to be exact, started going through some notes, writing more ideas down, thoughts. Came to the conclusion that going forward I believe the thing we needed to do was bring in a different perspective and different ideas in terms of going forward to what I believe and our goal of winning a Super Bowl.”

On potential candidates: “I have a plan. There’s some ideas that I’ve sat down and talked to Marty Hurney about. We discussed and are going to work through this plan we have and going forward. I said the biggest idea is looking for somebody with a different perspective on how to get us where we want to be.”

On if he thought about making the move at any point last season: “No. It’s one of those things you do evaluate and go through in your head just as you do for any phase in football, whether that’s special teams, offense or defense. This really isn’t about saying we’re going to improve one side of the football or the other. We’re going to try and improve the entire football team. There’s a lot of things that need to be improved and we need to work on, and a lot of that starts with me. I believe this is one of the things that can help us. I know it can help us if we go forward.”

On what he wants to see improved: “I think as a football team we have a lot of areas I think we can improve on. I do know and do believe we as a football team can be more consistent, and I think we need to improve across the board. I think one of the things that happened for us last year obviously was we had a little bit of a slow down because of how the quarterback went through training camp, but taking a step back and thinking about things, we can do better. I just feel that this plan that Marty and I talked about, we’re going to accomplish those things.”

On if the hire will happen quickly: “Again, I probably spent the last 16 hours thinking about this going through things in my mind. Then going back on some of the notes I made during the season. We have an idea and plan. Marty and I talked about these things, and we’ll continue to talk about it once we get done today. We’ll go back upstairs and talk about these things.”

On if the offense struggled to find an identity this year: “I think that’s part of it. You want to be able to say this is who we are, this is what we do. Again, I do understand and think a lot of it had to do with the health of the quarterback. There’s a lot of things that get into guys fitting into what we do and that’s another part of it. These are things that are all looked at, thought about, talked about. Again, going forward we have an idea as to how we want things done. I really thought about that last night, and at 3:15 this morning I pulled out a pad and paper and started writing some things down.”

On how that idea will jive with what he called “evolving”: “I think it will be about how we attack offensively which I believe we can do with the personnel we have. I know our personnel isn’t perfect. I know we went through a lot at a couple positions obviously – running back and wide receiver being two of the priorities. We have to continue to grow with those players and add players. There’s a lot of things that still need to be looked at and put together, pieced together going forward.”

On how much input Cam Newton had on the decision: “The biggest thing more so than anything else is that as I was thinking about this he is a part of the consideration as to how this will affect him and what we’re looking for for him as far as our offense is concerned.”

On if he spoke with Newton before the decision: “No, I talked with him after.”

On how much more he thinks Newton can improve: “I think there’s room for improvement. I do. I think there’s room for growth and he showed some growth this year and made some big steps. We talked about involving him a little in what we do going into this season, and we saw it. There’s still things we can improve on and we will continue to grow as a football team. As I said, this isn’t really about one phase of the team, it’s about all three phases and coaching and making sure we improve ourselves as we go forward.”

On Newton’s career-low passer rating these last two years and if that was a red flag when making this decision: “Again. There’s a lot of things I took into consideration and a lot of things I consider and look at before making this decision. In the end I do think it is about growth, and we as a football team have room to grow.”

On the conversation with Shula: “I told him this morning and I’m not going to get into specifics of conversation, but as I opened up the press conference I want to make sure everybody understands Mike and Kenny – their contributions are most certainly appreciated.”

On how important this offseason is: “I think what this does is, to me, signals we’re looking for an opportunity for us to continue to grow and get better. That’s what this move is made for. I just believe something different, something additional, different perspective can give us the boost I believe can help us get to the ultimate goal which is win a Super Bowl.”

On whether a new offensive system could be put in place: "It could be, but I think as we go through this plan, and Marty and I continue to talk about the direction we want to head, that's definitely a consideration. That's something we discussed as recently as an hour ago." 

On if he's looking outside the building to fill the vacant spots: "That's a possibility. There's a lot of qualified people out there, and we have some in this building as well." 

On whether he'll consider coaches he's worked with before, like Rob Chudzinski or Norv Turner: "The biggest thing we're going to do is stick with the plan. Marty and I have talked about it, we'll continue to talk about it and we'll go from there." 

On how Shula helped Newton: "Mike showed a tremendous amount of confidence in who Cam Newton is and who Cam Newton can be. From Day One he was on-board. He was always staunch in his support of Cam and worked on his development and helped his growth." 

On if the offense will remain one that wants to control the clock and run the ball: "Absolutely. I think you win football games when you do that. I've quoted this stat before: When you outrush your opponent, when you rush for over 100 yards, you win 70 percent of the time. We want to win that consistently and put ourselves in position to get into the playoffs and win in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we didn't do that this year, but that is a big part of what we want to become going forward. We want to be a consistent football team in all three phases. We want to be good on special teams. We want to be good on defense. We want to be good on offense and win football games. Consistency is important." 

On whether uncertainty around the organization will make it harder to find qualified candidates: "No. I think having my contract extended gives a little bit of security, and I'd like to believe that helps settle any question anybody has. There is some stability right now and going forward." 

On how Newton took the news: "I shared with him my plan, and I'm not going to get into how he reacted. That's personal for him, and I'm not going to put words in his mouth." 

On if offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach could be a package deal: “Potentially, they could be. I think the thing we have to look at is the system is in place. Just how much of that is going to be impacted? We want to try and make sure it stays very similar to what we do and how we do it. I think that's important." 

On if he wants the new offensive coordinator to keep running read-option: "I think that will be part of what we do. Most of the coaches that are out there have all been involved in some form of that. They've had quarterbacks that have had that type of ability as well." 

On where he wants to see specific improvement: "I just think there's room for improvement. When you do throw the ball, you want to make sure you're protecting the football and not turning it over. You want to make sure you're getting the ball in your playmaker's hands, give those guys opportunities. Looking at some of the guys I've thought about, some of the things they do, they do use the backs. And we have a back in Christian (McCaffrey) that has that type of ability and you do want to get him the ball in space." 

On his dynamic with Hurney: "The big part is whatever part of football we're discussing, whether it's players and scouting or it's players and coaching and X's and O's, we sit down and talk about it. Whether I'm bouncing an idea off of him or he's bouncing one off of me or just discussing certain things, I think that's what it is right now. It's an opportunity to have someone to use as a sounding board and get some positive or negative feedback one way or another." 

On how he left things with defensive coordinator Steve Wilks before he left for head coaching interviews: "Steve and I have had a couple of great conversations about everything. We've talked as late as yesterday before he left. He most certainly is a qualified candidate, he's got some really good ideas, and as I said before, I think he's got a great opportunity to get a head coaching job." 

On why he supports his coordinators becoming head coaches: "I've always said you get into coaching to get to the pinnacle of your profession. You want to be a Super Bowl champion, obviously, but you want to make sure you get in this to be the best coach you can be whether it's the head coach or the offensive line coach. So I'm very supportive of trying to help guys get opportunities to move up." 

On if he's targeted one specific candidate for offensive coordinator: "There's a couple that Marty and I have discussed. We've talked about a few of them, actually. Just trying to see what they do, and the best thing is we have all the technology with us so we can pull games up and look at things and see how things mesh with what we do." 

On if there's a timeline to fill the vacancies: "Not necessarily. The hiring cycle's just starting. So the thinking behind what I did today was to make sure those guys had an opportunity to get in the hiring cycle as well." 

On if he'd consider a coach with a college background: "For the most part, early, early, early in their careers they had a little college experience. But most of these guys have been in the NFL for some time."