CHARLOTTE – Eric Washington has always preached toughness and resolve to his players.
So now more than ever, Carolina's first-year defensive coordinator has to put his own words into action. And if you know Washington, you know he will not cower in the face of adversity.
"What you can't do is dwell on the negatives. We're in a solutions-finding business," Washington said. "The players want answers. We have to devise a plan to make sure that we are on the right side of the score. My feelings aside – feelings are appropriate, but only for so long – you have to figure out what you are going to do.
"There is a gap that we need to close. There is a gap that's preventing us from being on the right side of the score."
With the Panthers mired in a four-game losing streak, head coach Ron Rivera recently announced several changes to the structure of the coaching staff, letting go of two defensive assistants and assuming play-calling duties for the defense going forward.
"I trust Ron and respect that he has to make decisions," Washington said. "I one hundred percent support the decision."
None of this is easy for Washington, who had long been preparing for the opportunity to coordinate an NFL defense.
After so much success as arguably the league's top defensive line coach, his first year in this new role has presented him with unforeseen challenges. And he sees that as an opportunity for growth.
"There is a lot to be learned from all of this," Washington said, "and I'm going to take advantage of that."