On what he took away from the Panthers-49ers game
"I would say that first and foremost, I told the team at 8 o'clock this morning that I would be prepared to walk into a hornet's nest. This is a team that won four games in a row. It's a physically-sound, fundamentally-sound football team that won four games in a row, had a bye week, and went across the country and lost to an undefeated football team. Every week is different in this league, it really is. However you play one week, doesn't really have any bearing on what you do the next. There's things we look at a collective body of work when we're getting ready for an opponent in all three phases. What it's looked like in previous games. What it's looked like in the most recent game. How do we feel like we have the best chance to formulate a game plan. We watch all of the games. I expect us to be walking into a hornet's nest here on the road in Carolina."
On Panthers QB Kyle Allen
"I see a very in-command, under control quarterback that is taking care of the football. He's had a few fumbles, but I would say that those – when guys are rushing from behind and things like that – it's hard. Quarterback fumbles usually are much greater. Christian McCaffrey, to touch it as many times as he has, they're fundamentally sound at taking care of the football. That's kind of what I've seen. I worked Kyle out and recruited him when I was out Ohio State. I worked him out last year in Houston. This is a guy who took advantage of his opportunity and has done very well."
On if Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey is in the upper echelon of NFL RBs
"I don't know how many different opinions [there are]. I couldn't imagine anybody not thinking that he was."
More on McCaffrey
"He's a football player, this guy is a football player. He loves football. Catches the ball extremely well, has great vision, great toughness. He can make you miss, he can stiff arm you. Takes care of the football, he's strong with the football. I don't see any real flaws in his game. He's willing to protect when he's asks to – he'll step up in there."
On working out Panthers QB Kyle Allen
"I thought it was really good. We met, we watched some tape. Kind of talked about his travels and the decision to end up in Houston, and how he did there. The off-field stuff was good. Ultimately, we went into a different direction. It's hard when we draft a quarterback to, again, talk a guy into coming in the post-draft, but that was kind of where we were with it. I enjoyed the visit, I enjoyed the time. It's good to see guys that you worked out, and you liked, do well in this league. That's kind of where I'm at. I've been involved with it since I was 21 years old as a player. I coached and recruited against a lot of these guys now at Ohio State, or whether they came to Ohio State, like Curtis Samuel, or other guys that didn't, like Shaq Thompson. I recruited him when he was coming out of high school. Evaluated him and worked him out when he was coming out of Washington. That's part of this game. I love seeing them. I wish all of them can be on our team, but they can't. You see them each week. Jordan Scarlett – been to his high school. Ate lunch in his high school and evaluated him last year. That's kind of how this thing is."
On the recent success of young players without experience
"You draft these guys to fill needs. The player acquisition in this league is free agency and the draft. It's important to have a strong post-draft process where you can gain valuable players that happen to fall through for some sort of reason. Then, you have an opportunity to see something in them, to develop them, to work with them. There's some guys that you find late, some veteran guys that end up working out as well."
On LB Shaq Thompson
"I can remember when he first came into the league, he played walk on. He played basically as a big nickel. They had Thomas (Davis) and they had Luke (Kuechly). They felt like to get him on the field, they would play him out there over wide receivers. He basically was a big nickel. Everybody kind of had the same vision for him. He had played some safety at Washington and then kind of as a linebacker. He had the ability to play in space and be athletic. I think he's becoming a physical, fast, instinctive linebacker inside. I think playing next to Luke extensively now has probably made that a much quicker process."
On Titans OL Nate Davis
"I think his ability to come in and learn. Nate went through a lot of systems in college and a lot of different position coaches. He continues to improve, he continues to get better. He missed a lot of time in training camp. For a young lineman, those are valuable reps that you have to have. It took him a little while. We worked him in there. It went pretty good, and we're continuing to move forward with him."
On Titans QB Ryan Tannehill
"I think he was a veteran player that started a lot of games and won a lot of games in this league. He was very supportive of Marcus (Mariota) and what the situation was, but he still led, in his own way, tried to lead. Now, certainly, he's trying to make it his own, and he's trying to take advantage of the opportunity. I appreciate that."
On his relationship with Ron Rivera and if they keep up with one another
"Other than the owners' meetings, I would say no. But conversations on the phone, I would say Ron would be up there with guys like Andy Reid who are very generous with their time and with their helpful ideas and hints as to how to navigate this league as a coach. I spent a bunch of time with him at the owners' meetings. He's a great coach. He cares about this game, he cares about growing this game at the youth level and making sure that what we're doing is right for everybody. He's been a great influence on me as a coach."
On offenses reverting back to the ground-and-pound running game
"I think it just depends on how teams are built. I know that a lot of the personnel that we get come from leagues and colleges that play with four and five wide receivers on the field, and don't have many fullbacks on the roster. It is what it is. You look at (DJ) Moore and Samuel as receivers, those guys are like modified halfbacks in college. They threw a bunch of balls near or around the line of scrimmage, they're hard to tackle, and they also have the speed to go vertically down field. That's what's coming out of college. Shaq Thompson – that's what his versatility is. I'm just using guys as examples. This is what's at college, and this is what we're scouting and evaluating."