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Carolina Panthers

Game Quotes: Panthers vs. Saints

Head coach Ron Rivera

On the Saints coming out with more of a purpose than the Panthers:"Honestly, I think it's because we missed opportunities. You drive down there and you end up kicking a field goal, that's your fault. We had every opportunity to score. We missed a protection, took a sack and had to kick a field goal. We came out with the purpose to win this football game, no more, no less than they did. We screwed ourselves by not making plays when we had opportunities more so than anything else. I'll look at this tape, I'll look at us as coaches and I'll look at the things that we did to see if we gave them every opportunity to win. I'm looking at players. I'm looking at who went out and did their job and who didn't. We will make decisions and adjustments and things that need to be done. That's the truth of the matter. I don't think anybody came in and played as hard as we did. We played hard, we just didn't play smart. We didn't play well enough to win. That's why we got beat." 

On missed protection caused by a miscommunication:"That I'll have to ask but it was most certainly a miscommunication. It was a missed protection. We turned right instead of going left. That's something that we have to make sure that we can't allow to happen. We were in position, we had a chance to get a first down, we had a chance to score a touchdown and we didn't do it. That either falls on us because it's a little too complicated or we just didn't do the job we were supposed to."

On what disappointed him defensively:"Yes, we played sideways. We didn't play down field. We didn't play to our creases. We didn't control our guys. Quite honestly, that's exactly what I saw. Again, as I said, when we get a chance to watch the tape, we will see what we as coaches are giving them every opportunity to be successful and if so, are we doing our jobs."

On decision to punt later in the game:"Well they had a little bit of momentum on their offensive side of the ball and the last thing I wanted to do was give them a chance. If we missed the field goal, give them the chance to get the ball right next to the fifty-yard line and if we didn't get it, they get the ball with a little bit more momentum. I didn't want to give them momentum. We still had plenty of time. It wasn't that the game was out of control."

On offense going seven quarters without a touchdown:"Because we missed opportunities, quite honestly. That's about as simple as it gets. We had some throws we missed, some blocks we missed. There is not secret to it. We see it every time we put the tape on. We have to correct those things."

On Kelvin Benjamin's injury:"That's the knee that was repaired. He took a pretty good shot. The guy rolled up on the back of it, so the doctors will have to examine it tomorrow. That's about as much as I know."

On Cam Newton not playing the end of the game:"Self-preservation move right there, more so than that was anything else going forward. We didn't need to have him go out there and throw about ten, twelve more balls. Figured we get the shoulder a little bit of rest and start getting ready for New England."

On how hard is it to manage giving the shoulder rest and getting chemistry with receivers: "It's hard. It's tough. Again, you saw though when things started rolling, how good it looked, the potential for it to look very good. But again, potential is a scary word as far as a coach is concerned. So we have to be able to make those plays when we get opportunities. When we drive the ball down there, we have to make sure everything is communicated and we are giving them a chance to secure."

On the Saints ability to free up Michael Thomas:"The biggest thing initially is I didn't think we were getting enough pressure on the quarterback. I think that's part of why he had some success."

On the Saints offensive line:"Again, I think there are some things that we have to look at. Are we almost predictable? Do they anticipate that? Again, so we have to take a look at it. We have to self-scout ourselves and see what exactly happened, more so than anything else."

On Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey:"I thought Curtis was explosive, dynamic. We saw what happens when he gets the ball in his hands and we give him an opportunity. That was kind of exciting. I could say the same thing about Chrisitian McCaffrey. Christian looked dynamic when he had the ball in his hands as well. Jonathan Stewart ran the ball hard. There are some things we have to make sure we look at and we look at ways to get the ball into the playmakers' hands."

On the rookie class:"I'm excited about it. I think these young guys are playing hard. They are learning. They are trying to fit in to what we do and we are trying to learn to use them as weapons."

On the game plan for Ed Dickson:"I think there are probably a few more opportunities we could have had for Ed but he came in and did his job, did what we asked of him. The one thing we can't overlook is the tight end position. I think, again, we may have tried to put the ball in some people's hands at times, we may have tried to force a couple things. So again, as I said we will take a look at this tape and we have to make sure we are giving ourselves every chance to win. That may be one of things we have to look at."

On effect from having to use a mainly pass blocking tight end compared to the receiving tight end:"It shouldn't. We feel pretty good about what Chris Manhertz can do. But again, at the end of the day, he has to make sure and we have to go back and look at as coaches, that we are giving these guys every opportunity to succeed."

On defense's predictability: "Not necessarily. Again, I'm just saying there are reasons for a lot of it. The big thing for me is really being able to go back and look at the tape more so. Right now, I'm just kind of shooting from the hip, just trying to remember these things as we are going through this."

On effects psychologically when settling for field goal on first drive of game:"When you kick two field goals against a defense that has had some early struggles, it gives them a little bit of momentum. But if you go down and you take the opening kickoff because they differed and you score right away, that's a pretty powerful thing for your offense. We had a chance to make a statement as a football team and we didn't. We gave their defense a little bit of hope because they made us kick a field goal. Kuddos to them. I'm not going to take anything away from them. But, at the same time, you are not going to beat teams, especially an explosive offense like this, kicking field goals."

On how you get past injuries:"That's exactly what they are, they are excuses. There is no way to get past it. That's just the way it is. Everybody in that room has a job. Everybody in that room is paid. So we have to go out and do our job. Just like the coaches have to make sure we are giving them a chance to succeed. They have to go out and make sure they execute."

On how much you have to change things around when facing former players:"I'm not quite sure if there is in terms of playing the way you play things. If there is anything, it's a simple nuance of the hand signals and communications you have. That's probably the biggest thing you have to do. But that's not why you get beat. You get beat because you don't go out and execute. You get beat because you aren't putting them in position to win."

On his conversations with team of demonstrations of unity around the league this weekend:"To be honest, to me the thing that we talked about last night and it really wasn't a conversation, it was me just speaking, I gave the players my take on this. I said I really think that what we need to do is if we are going to be united we need to all stand, look at the flag, be at attention, feet at ten and two, left hand down at our sides, right hand on our heart and we need to look at the flag and we need to listen to the National Anthem. We need to think and envision an America that we believe in that's free from injustice, that's free from bigotry, free from prejudice and then when you guys ask me, we tell you that. We tell you that we believe in America, we support our military, we support our first responders, and we most certainly do not believe in racism and bigotry and we want to see that out of this country. That's what I told them. I told them that's how I feel and I have my personal reasons to feel that way. We left it at that. I told the guys that if they ask, tell them how you feel. They really should. Quite honestly, that's the last I'm going to talk about it."

Quarterback Cam Newton

On his interceptions:"They had a good plan. We didn't get fooled by their record, but at the end of the day, we have to go back in the lab and prepare. We will be better from it. We have to play a better complimentary game; offensively, defensively, and also on special teams. I put the defense in some screwed up situations and, in order for us to win, that can't happen. Trying to make a play and force things. Trying to find a spark. As you saw, that wasn't the way it went."

On how Kelvin Benjamin's injury affect what you were able to do:"Not necessarily. Each and every game I have to know when to chuck the ball down and how to do it in an accurate way. I feel like if I play better, the outcome is different. The ownership is on me."

On transition from limited throwing at practice to playing a game:"It's your body responding. It's tough. At the end of the day, we are professionals. I would not have not wanted to play today. I feel as if, where my mental frame was, I was ready to play. It was just the circumstances that took place. Early on we had a great first drive. We just have to find ways to score points and to keep the momentum in our favor. When you score three points, that's a plus, but it's still not seven points. We can't keep letting teams off the hook by having great drives, getting in the red zone, and not cashing in. [Graham] Gano has been doing a great job for us. We are going to expect things like that from him, but we would prefer scoring touchdowns."

On national anthem protests:"I honestly didn't know about Julius [Peppers], but we did have a team discussion last night. In my opinion, some of the remarks were unacceptable; especially in certain people's position. At the end of the day, we still need work in our society as a whole. We definitely need work on this team as far as performance and production and one thing about it on both fronts, I will do my job. I will stay in my lane, but at the end of the day we are all entitled to our own opinion. It's been an epidemic, so to speak, in this country for quite some time and I feel as if certain things happening doesn't make it right, on both sides. I am going to keep doing the things that I can control, especially affiliated with my foundation. Making people aware and hopefully that makes an impact."

On what he means by 'epidemic':"The racial injustice. A lot of people want to be heard. In my opinion, you want people to hear your side. I feel like when you have a group of people who have been oppressed and feel as if what they do is not important, that is when the problems happen. You have situations and circumstance that take place time and time again, it's a showing of that. If something were to happen, a positive thing, proper people need to have a sit-down discussion rather than assuming certain things. The truth of the matter is that we can't just point the finger and point blame, that's the easy thing to do. With my pinnacle, I promise to do things that will gain awareness and doing them by my own right." 

On starting off only scoring a field goal:"For us, the thing is playing complimentary football. When you go down, create stops, and you turn the ball over as an offense to those guys who can score with the ball every time on good field position, that's not a good habit. For me, I can't be lackluster with the football. Having 3 turnovers by myself isn't the best day at the office. With an efficient offense that we were playing against, with our team and having the home field advantage, it takes one play. We just didn't have that one play. We have to keep things going early on and create some type of momentum and points early and often."

On how Kelvin Benjamin is:"I don't know. I wish I did. I am hoping for the best."

On restructuring the Panthers' offense without Greg Olsen: "We just have to understand what teams are trying to do to us. It's up to me as the signal caller to get the ball in the right positions and in the right peoples' hands. It doesn't matter what happens, we still have to have answers. We didn't have enough answers today."

On not going for the first down at 4th and 5 on the 35-yard line in the third quarter:"The thing about it is that it's still early. There's no need to rush things. Whatever Coach Rivera decides to do, I am with him 110%. That's champion DNA. Especially after our discussion after the game, it's gut check time. That's including myself. As far as preparation, it may be performance, It may just be a small changeup. Things on the offensive side have to be better. I am proclaiming that it will. Moving forward, there is no need to panic. There is no need to rush. There is no need to be up in arms about the situation. Should you be frustrated as a fan, absolutely. I am frustrated with my lackluster performance knowing that we are better than the performances we've been putting on the past couple of weeks. Be patient and know that big things are ahead for us. This year's Panthers team has big things to do."

Safety Mike Adams

On Cam's play:"I just want to control what I can control. We are here to support Cam. He does his thing and we are here to support him. It's a team effort. If he throws an interception, then we have to get one as well. We take fault in this because we didn't get any interceptions."

On Coach Rivera's comments on playing hard but not smart today:"He's right. As a defense we made mistakes we don't make. It was a lot of self-inflicted wounds on things that we could have controlled. That was the hard part of it all." 

On making mistakes against the Saints:"It's the Saints. You expect to win your division games and you definitely don't expect to lose at home, especially if your goal is the Super Bowl. But it happened."

Defensive end Mario Addison

On problems on defense:"One thing we didn't do is play smart.  When you don't play smart, things like that will happen."

On Drew Brees: "He gets rid of the ball fast. By the time I make my move, the ball is gone. Sometimes he chips, like match protection to keep us from getting there but he definitely was getting rid of the ball very fast. As far as the run, we didn't fit together like we normally do. It all goes back to we weren't playing smart."

On how to handle a loss like today:"For one thing we have to approach this like men, we are men at the end of the day. We took this loss like a man, we need to hold our heads up like a man, and then we need to come back and watch this film. As a team we need to look in the mirror and see what we didn't do and go back to the drawing board because at the end of the day we played this game. We just have to correct what we didn't do."* *

Cornerback James Bradberry

On what went wrong today:"We were just messing up. I blame myself personally. I was messing up on a couple of plays. So it wasn't what they did but what we didn't do."

On plays they messed up on:"The touchdown with Ted [Ginn]. They converted a third down on a dig route. I missed a tackle. That's three on the top of my head right now." 

On his assignment on the Ted Ginn's touchdown:"We were in man and I took my eyes off him just to check with my alignment. They quick released me inside and played trail technique from there and they threw it over top of me."

Tight end Ed Dickson

On team going out to support the national anthem:"Collectively as a team, we wanted to go do what we wanted to as a team. Go out there together and do just that. If Julius didn't want to go out there, then that's on him and I respect that. He's a part of our team and our teammate."

On the reason to go out for the national anthem:"Being able to collectively as a team, [Coach Ron Rivera] gave us the floor to do something different. We said we didn't want that as a distraction. At the end of the day, we are here for one reason and that is to win games. Everything out in the world, as bad as it is, that's how we stay together as a team. Keeping our locker room unified and doing what we do on a daily basis."

On the team having open dialogue after President Trump remarks:"It's always been open dialogue with Coach Rivera. He doesn't put a muzzle on us. We are grown men at the end of the day and these are grown events. If we have something to say, we can go into his office and talk to him personally. I thought that was very big of him. Just asking us what we want to do in the team meeting and that was it."

Wide receiver Devin Funchess

On what went wrong in the game:"They executed better than us."

On inability to score touchdowns:"They executed better than us. Some plays didn't go our way, some plays went their way."

On his thoughts on the game:"We didn't play Panther football. On the offensive side I can't speak for anybody. We'll go in there, evaluate it tomorrow, fix everything everything we've got to fix and come back Wednesday ready to rock."

Offensive tackle Matt Kalil

On the lead getting out of hand:"We've just got to keep going out there and try to score. That's our job. Regardless of how much they get up by, it's our job to go out there and do a good job protecting Cam (Newton) and running the ball and open holes up. I don't know what to say, they just won the game."

On challenges that injuries present:"We're doing a great job with Tyler (Larsen) in there. He's making all the calls, he's doing a great job. Ed (Dickson) is doing a great job of stepping up and playing well and we've got great depth on this team and that's a good thing. I don't know what happened to Kelvin (Benjamin), but I hope he's alright. That's the role guys have toplay, it's next man up."

On Julius Peppers not on the field for the anthem:"He's a teammate of mine and I respect his views and what he thinks is the right thing to do. He's a great person, great human so I don't have any problem with what he's doing."* *

On Ryan Kalil's injury:"Ryan seems in good spirits; I hope he comes back as soon as he can."

Center Tyler Larsen

On the game as a whole:"I think there were some times that we might have hurt ourselves, but like I said we've got to get back to the film and see what happened and learn from it."

On Coach Rivera's message after the game:"We've just got to check ourselves and learn from our mistakes. Really take it on the chin and move on."* *

On New Orleans' defense:"They were very physical, they were flying around. That is what we expected coming into this game. I think as an offensive front we did a good job battling back at them."

On scoring a field goal on the opening drive:"We always want to score touchdowns, unfortunately it wasn't enough this week. There is a little bit of frustration, but a field goal like I said puts points up on that board and you keep chipping away through the game hoping to score more." 

Running back Christian McCaffrey

On execution in the red zone:"We've got to execute better in the red zone. We'll get back to the drawing board and do what we can to fix that."

On inability to score touchdowns:"It's real frustrating. It happens. Like I said, we'll back to the drawing board and try and fix it and move on."

On what he learned from this game:"We'll check out the tape tomorrow and look and see what we've got to do to get better and put more points up and help the defense out a little bit. I can't say until I watch the tape."

On Coach Rivera's message after the game:"We've got to keep pushing. We've got to keep our head up, it's one game. A lot of people will probably be down on us and that's fine with us because we're a brotherhood. What matters is what is in this locker room. We're going to do everything we can to get it fixed."

Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn

On if today's play correctable:"Most definitely. It's early in the season and it's a long season. We have a long season and we have a long way to go. It's definitely correctable."

On decision to stand for the national anthem:"I really ain't talk about it like that. We just tried to go about business as usual. We been doing it. We just talked about it as a team. Just went out there and it was business as usual." 

On thoughts on Julius Peppers not coming out for the national anthem:"Pepp is a big guy and has strong belief. I support him. If he wanted to do that, then I definitely support him. It's a lot going on in this world right now. Pepp decided to do that. Like I said, I got nothing but love for Pepp and I support his decision." 

Defensive end Julius Peppers

On Saints coming in 0-2:"I don't know anything about what was going on with them and what motivated them today. I'm talking about us and the lack of urgency on our part, it was a little bit of a slip on the small things and the fundamentals. I think it was more us. No discredit to them, they played a good game but I think it was also us that hurt ourselves a little bit."

On remaining in the locker room for the National Anthem:"I want to get one thing clear and I want to let you guys know that this wasn't about disrespecting the military, disrespecting the flag, police, first responders, none of that. It wasn't about that. It was about me making a decision as a man on my two feet. Don't want to ask someone else to do anything for me. I just thought it was appropriate to stay in because we know what went on this week with the comments that were made by the President and I felt like he attacked our brothers, my brothers in the league. So I felt like it was appropriate to stand up with them and stay in the locker room."

On how difficult it was to process what was said and come to this decision:"It's a lot. I know a lot of people might not understand it, a lot of people might be upset about it and that's fine. I'm not living my life out there trying to make everybody happy, I'm doing things that I feel like are right and things that I believe in. There are only a few times in a man's life where you have the chance to stand up for something that you believe in and make a statement so today I thought was that chance and I took it."

On what his statement was about:"It's about all of those things. We all know what's going on, we all know what's being said. So, again, it wasn't any disrespect to the flag or any of that military personnel or any of that stuff, it was about what I just said."

On whether it was a hard decision to make:"It wasn't a hard decision at all because I feel that strongly about it. I didn't want to ask anybody else to do anything that they weren't comfortable with so, like I said, I'm a man, I stand on my own two feet, I make my own decisions. I just felt like it was appropriate to do that today."

On whether he told his teammates:"No."

On personal experience with racial injustice:"I don't want to get into that right now, that's a discussion for another day. But I think most of us have."

On teammates hugging him before the first defensive series:"I don't think anybody knew about [staying in the locker room] to be honest with you, I think [the hugging] was just a pregame thing everybody did."

On whether anyone else stayed in the locker room:"No."

On whether he discussed this with anyone else beforehand:"No."

On when he made the decision:"Today."

On staying in the locker room instead of kneeling on the sideline:"Because it wasn't about the flag. I think when you go out there and you kneel or do these things where you demonstrate against the flag, that's one thing, but not to show up, that's another. I don't think it hurt anybody to stay in here so I just felt like that was the best thing to do."

On whether an increase in demonstrations like this will increase dialogue about these issues:"I hope so."

Wide receiver Curtis Samuel

On the pressures to step up:"There's no pressure at all. I came in expecting to play a big role. With KB down, everybody's got to pick it up, not just me. We all need to come together as a receiving unit and pick it up."

On pressures to score touchdowns:"We can't panic now. It's the third game. All we can do is go out there and get ready for practice and execute and work on that part of the game."

View the top photos from Panthers vs. Saints by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez.

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