Mike Shula Q&A

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Thoughts on loss to Atlanta: "We didn't do a good enough job, and they did a good job. A little bit off. Got into some long-yardage situations, and as all of you know, you want to make some first downs on first and second down. But the positive was I love the drive at the end of the second quarter. We responded. I thought all the way through until the end that we had a chance to find a way to pull it out. But we're moving on. We're one of 12 teams. We want our players thinking the same way. We're going to learn from the stuff from today, how we can all be better because of it."

On how Cam Newton can be better: "It's a combination of everything. He could have been better at times, but he's one of eleven guys. Guys are down because we had a chance to go win a game. But they are really excited about (the playoffs)… We've just got to hone in on these guys. We've seen them twice already and we know we're going to have to play better to beat them. We feel like we've got the guys that can go out there and give us a chance to do that."

On throwing into tight windows and making contested catches: "Especially this time of year we are going to have to make tight throws and we're going to have to make contested catches. We're going to have to stand in the pocket – all the things are going to get magnified. Yes to all those things. We've had moving parts all year, we've had guys playing different positions and maybe sometimes not getting the reps that we'd like them to get prior to the game. But I think for the most part we've done a pretty good job of that. Yesterday we didn't."

On playing a team for third time and if offense or defense has advantage: "It's been a long time since I can remember doing this. I don't know. On paper you'd say defense, but when you have prepare you have to look at those two games and obviously look at some other games too. Look at the good stuff, look at the stuff that wasn't good and why. It's a little like basketball when teams are playing in a series and the little adjustments that they make. It's that kind of mentality… Each possession is extremely important. You don't know how many you're going to get. Sudden death football, so it's exciting."

On Christian McCaffrey's rookie year: "We don't know what his ceiling is yet, which is a good thing. He's done a lot of good things for us and we need to continue to build off those. The things that maybe he hasn't done quite as well? He'll do well, I truly believe that. Just fitting him and giving him the chance to help us win, but not obviously trying to get him the ball every play. We have other guys besides him that we feel are going to make plays for us. Really, that's where Cam comes into it. We get Cam Newton playing fast, we're a dangerous offense. When he spreads the ball around that's always been a good thing for us. The biggest thing is just making sound decisions and making them on time. He has the ability to get the ball there accurately as well, and that helps guys like Christian, and in turn, he helps him."

On how to get Newton playing fast: "You just make sure we're well-prepared and he feels really good about everything that we're doing – any little adjustment potentially. Also, making sure that those guys during the week know exactly what he sees, how he envisions any little adjustments. That's where all of that preparation during the course of the week comes in, and you can't get that on the field. That's where all the meeting times and walk-throughs come in."

On importance of running the ball: "We've won a lot of games when we've had a good rushing average and good rushing efficiency, but I would say that's going to come with balance and is more important with balance. If we're a balanced team and not predictable – and we're not making unforced errors – that leads to us running the football well and hopefully leads to us winning the football game."

On Greg Olsen having one catch on 10 targets versus Falcons: "They did a good job on a couple of things, and we were just a little bit off on some others. But to me that's not a concern. Unfortunately it wasn't good enough yesterday, but we feel like that's doing to a good combination for us as well."

On facing rookie corner Marshon Lattimore for the first time: "He's pretty good. He's talented. He's long. He plays with that confidence that the good ones play with."

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