CHARLOTTE – You don’t hear from the assistant coaches often, but they know the pulse of this team as well as anyone and they see the players from a very unique vantage point.
They have insightful perspectives to share on why this Panthers team is 12-0, and you’ll find those thoughts below.
Assistant head coach Steve Wilks: "It’s about the character of the men that we have in that locker room. That’s the key thing. We have talent at each position, but you start talking about the culture and the chemistry. When certain things come up, those guys police themselves. You’re talking about difficult situations in the game we played last week at New Orleans, and not at one point in time did we feel like we were out of it. It goes back to the makeup of our group. I’ve been on some great teams and I sort of compare this to the team we had in Chicago that went to the Super Bowl. It was something unique in that locker room. Those guys enjoyed each other on and off the field. And I see the exact same thing here."
Defensive line coach Eric Washington: "This team has character and work ethic. They’re focused every single day, and there are a lot of selfless individuals on this football team. These guys care about one thing, and that’s winning. They epitomize mental toughness and that’s one thing that really stands out to me."
Linebackers coach Al Holcomb: "There is a great chemistry in the locker room. I think there is a belief and trust. They play for each other and they are extremely confident right now. When you combine all of those things, it makes for a pretty good locker room and a pretty good football team."
Wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl: "I think it’s the maturity. Young guys have grown up and learned what it takes to be pros. We have a great mix of veteran leadership and selflessness. To me, you knew the chemistry was there in OTAs and training camp. You could just feel it. And you could see the transformation of this football team over the last three years. It’s easy to say it now, but I’ve been telling people for months. This is a special group, and we’ve got what it takes to win a championship. With all the winning teams I’ve been on, you could feel it. And when you start clicking, everybody wants to be a part of it and everybody steps up their game. They don’t want to be the guy who lets the group down."
Tight ends coach Pete Hoener: "There is a tremendous blend of personalities. Some guys are stronger than others with their leadership abilities, but a lot of guys have convinced the others to take ownership of what we’re doing. When you get a team that does that, no matter whose coaching or how they’re coaching, it’s the players that pull together and find a way to win."
Quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey: "The biggest thing is it’s a very unselfish team that plays team football. All phases work together and complement each other. Guys want to make plays and guys want the ball, but they’re happy when their teammates make plays. That cohesiveness speaks a lot to being able to handle all the ups and downs of a game."
Assistant defensive backs coach Richard Rodgers: "I’ve been a part of a lot of teams and I’ve seen a lot of groups grow and develop. I can honestly say that we don’t talk about the 'next man up' mentality, we just have the ‘next man up’ mentality. It doesn’t matter what position, it doesn’t matter who, everybody thinks they can step up and play. That’s a big deal. The guys believe it. You look around the league, and everybody has the same thing on paper, but the difference is, we believe."
Running backs coach Jim Skipper: "I’ll tell you what – we are playing winning football, which means we are making plays when we have to make them. It’s as simple as that."