PANTHERS HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
RE: The decision to only play offensive starters one series
Yeah, that was just the decision. We were going to play in between five to ten plays. I think they got seven or eight plays. They played that one drive. Obviously, it didn't end the way we wanted it to but that is what we ran with, thinking probably ten at the max and they were right there with seven. We got some live reps for them and wanted to get Will [Grier] in there and the rest of the guys.
RE: Discussion on goal line plays tonight
Yeah, we just ran our base stuff. We don't really have the goal line packages out there and all those different things. We were trying to save our tight ends a little bit because we knew we were going to play the whole game. We only have six of them. Just ran plays. Again, we want our guys to get their pads down. We want Chuba [Hubbard] to try to run through some contact and go score. It's not really something that we are game planning and trying to be tricky. We are trying to run good old-fashion football plays and get in. We threw the one pass but even on fourth and one, maybe that is a run-pass option or something but right now we are trying to establish if we can get that yard or not. We didn't get that yard tonight so that's something we have to improve upon as a team.
RE: Will Grier
I thought Will did a nice job. Pushed the ball down field. Made some big throws. Unfortunately, he had some checks in the protection game that hurt him. He kind of had to get rid of the ball. I have to watch the tape, but it looked like he made some big throws down the field. At least that one I guess. I'll have to go back and watch it but I thought he had good poise out there and I thought Terrace [Marshall Jr.] did a couple good things out there so there were some signs of good football out there.
RE: Moving the football in the second half
Held us the most. Honestly, just not moving it. Just couldn't kind of get a first down. Couldn't really protect. Couldn't really get open verses man coverage. That really just spiraled towards the defense. The defense was out there for six, seven, eight plays. We were able to convert some plays, at least some first and second down plays in the first half and have some longer drives. Probably should have scored 14 or 17 or 13 at least points in the first half. The second half just couldn't get the ball moving.
RE: Sam Darnold's performance
He did good. I thought he hung on the one. Wasn't open right away but he knew it was going to be open. He trusted Robby [Anderson] and found a way to get the ball to him. Made all the right checks. Joe [Brady] called a play action pass down there and he wasn't open so he threw it away so some of the things we are looking for him to do. Live to play another play. It was just a chance for him to get out there and get his feet wet, get those guys out there. I liked our operation. We were quick. Get him out there a little more next week.
RE: Not having a game plan for the red zone
I didn't say that. I'm saying we are not trying to be tricky. I don't want to make it sound like that. Those coaches worked hard. They were just trying to keep it very base. We don't want to show hey, here is our double reverse this, here is our trick play that. I just want to make sure it comes across right out there sound-byte wise.
RE: Has the team improved in the red zone since
Yeah, I think we have gotten a lot better but at the end of the day, it comes down to results. That's two games in a row that we haven't been great in the red zone or at 3rd down so we will just have to continue to see where we are with it.
RE: Adding a fullback to the roster
If we find the right one.
RE: Chuba Hubbard
He is like all rookies. He has had a couple of good plays. He made a nice play in the screen. Had a couple nice runs. Also put the ball on the ground. Rookies can be up and down though. So, we want to build on the positive and we want to try and eliminate the negative. You can't put the ball on the ground and continue to play at this level but he has shown some explosiveness and he is a hard worker playing on the special teams as well. So, I think he will only continue to get better.
RE: Joey Slye
That's like everything else. You have to produce and so far, Joey has not produced at the level we need him to. I think he would be the first guy to say that. We have to find a way to get over that hump with him.
RE: Frankie Luvu
He didn't play much in the first preseason game. He had the one pressure off the edge and made a nice play. It looked like he made some contact plays today. The biggest thing is he punches the ball out. He plays with tremendous intensity and got the ball out today so it seems like he is a difference maker so far in these first two games in terms of some key plays, some wild plays. We will continue to find ways to get him on the field.
RE: Plan for how much starters will play next game?
Yeah. We probably won't say it yet but we will hope it is up around a half depending on how everything is. If it is less than that or more than that, so be it.
RE: Is it important to give Sam Darnold a full half of game preparation next week?
I don't want to say a half. That is my hope. I think he needs to play some. I thought he did play tonight. Didn't want to put him too much out there without Robby [Anderson], DJ [Moore] and Johnny [Miller] but I thought the other guys filled in. I thought Dennis [Daley] did a nice job. Robby was able to get a couple plays in there. The two joint practices were tough. These guys answered the bell and they went out there and played tonight which was great. Hopefully next week we will in a little bit more of a rested state even though its only six days and they will be able to play a little bit more. Hopefully around a half but again that could always change.
RE: Whether John Miller is going to be gone for a long term
No, he should be back this week.
PANTHERS QUARTERBACK SAM DARNOLD
RE: Thoughts on getting inside the red zone on the first drive
We got down there, we just have to get in the endzone. You don't get those opportunities much, especially early on in the game. It was good to get down there. We just have to punch it in.
RE: First and goal play on the first drive
They had a shell look. They were playing some zone, and they zoned everything off. I felt like the best decision was just to throw it away. Live to see another down there.
RE: Impressions of the first drive
We were in out of the huddle all game. I think that was good. Obviously, we started towards the red zone, so that is what it is. It was good to get that work. I thought we were efficient. Like I said, we just have to punch it in.
RE: First game as a Carolina Panther
Coming off the season where there weren't a lot of fans, it was awesome being able to see them back out there. It was great to feel that atmosphere. It was a good time.
RE: Robby Anderson being the first read on the first play
Robby was my first read. He kind of stumbled a little bit coming out of his break but I decided to hang on to him. Obviously, that was a good decision. It was good to get that connection going.
RE: Terrace Marshall Jr.
He can be a really good player for us. He just has to continue doing what he has been doing every single day. He comes in and works really hard. He doesn't say much. He just puts his head down, takes the coaching, and takes it out there on the field with him. He has been great for us so far and we're just looking forward to him continuing to learn and grow in this offense.
RE: Did you want to play another series?
As a competitor, as a player you always want to stay out there but obviously that was the plan going in, we all knew it.
RE: How much do you want to accomplish this week and Friday against Pittsburgh
I think just continue to build off of what we did that first drive, obviously score touchdowns, but just continue to see a really good operation. Getting in and out of the huddle, making the right checks, everyone communicating together and then like I just said, punching it in. That's what we want to see.
RE: Is it time or execution level that determines what you want to see in terms of how much you want to play on Friday?
I think obviously you want to go out there and execute, maybe a little bit of both. I mean you want to see playing time, especially before the season, you know, get started. Again, if we go out there and execute, I guess at the end of the day that is up to Coach Rhule.
RE: Is there a fine line between wanting to score and end your series on a positive note versus not blowing the lid open on the play book?
I mean you want to score, obviously, first and foremost. Like I kind of mentioned there just before, as competitors you want to punch it in, at the same time we should be able to go down there and score with our base plays. That's really what it comes down to, and like I said we should have punched it in.
PANTHERS QUARTERBACK WILL GRIER
RE: Tonight's performance
Great. Another opportunity to learn from and get better. That was a good defense to go against. They do a lot of different stuff. They're sound. Different than a lot of other teams in the NFL so it was good to kind of work that this week and play against them, so that went well.
RE: Was it exciting to know you were coming in right after Sam Darnold?
Absolutely, always excited whenever I get an opportunity. Just try to make the most of it.
RE: Did you make the most of your opportunity tonight?
I think so, we have to score in the red zone. There was some miscommunication, some things we have to clean up, but I think we took care of the ball, played pretty mistake free, made some throws, moved the ball. We just have to come in and get a day better and try to put this all together.
RE: What was the message after the missed field goal?
Just beating ourselves in a lot of ways and just not finishing when we get down there. We have to convert on third down, punch the ball in. Can't always just settle for field goals, so we have to get better.
RE: Issues with protection checks and Baltimore's exotic blitz package?
Yea, they do, they do some really good stuff. They do a lot of different things, probably more exotic than I've ever seen in the preseason. They do a good job. They show different things, they don't really give you the answers to the test. They will blitz from far off and stuff that doesn't seem very sound and they cover down, just kind of the way they play. They do a good job. It's our job to pick it up, if they beat us we have to throw hot. I think some plays we did well. I think our line did a great job tonight, and some plays we have to get better. At the end of the day, against a defense like that, you are going to win some, lose some. Sometimes you are not always going to pick it up. We have to make plays and we have to finish in the red zone, got to score points.
RE: Any reason for the miscommunication tonight?
Not really. I think a lot of it is just, it's just a game of communication. You have to be on your P's and Q's at every position. It takes 11 people communicating, doing the right thing. It wasn't every play, but in the NFL if you miscommunicate on a third down, you are going to take a field goal. So those are frustrating. As we progress throughout the season, you try to eliminate those, because those will kill you when it matters.
RE: Do you feel like the competition for the backup job is even?
I try not to even think about that because I am not sure, I don't know. It's not up to me, I try to take advantage of my opportunities and show that I can play quarterback in this league and then it comes down to what they want. That's not my decision. I don't look at even as a battle with PJ Walker, I look at it as a battle with myself to be the best me I can be everyday. I've told you guys I think PJ's a great player. I think we are very different. I think we can both play really well in this league. I think it just comes down to, that's not our decision to make, we both come out and compete everyday to get better. Ultimately that decision is upstairs.
RE: Deep ball play
It was kind of an alert play. If it we get press, run a go, if they are off, we run like a stop rout. We got to look outside with press to the field. I was able to hold the safety in the middle field, so you got more space to the field. Picked up the blitz great on that play, actually. And then Terrence Marshall won the one-on-one. Against a team like that, that play a lot of man, you have to win one-on-ones. We won that one big play and he did a good job of saving me some space on the sideline.
RE: Was that as comfortable as you have been as a professional?
It's up there. I felt comfortable last week. I think, in a game setting, yeah, absolutely.
RE: What was the difference?
I think just experience, reps, understanding the offense, just being in the offense for two years helped to kind of; you know going in to the camps that you're kind of working through the details and trying to get better. That has been a huge benefit this year. And then just time and experience, I guess, just getting the reps. In the NFL, so much of it is getting in the right play and not just being able to throw, but knowing where to throw the ball and then having an answer on every play and I feel like I have come a long way in that area.
RE: When you limped off at the end, was you coming out planned or because of that?
No, that was planned. I got the wind knocked out of me a little bit, but I was done anyway. I could have gone back in, I'm fine, just couldn't breathe for a second.
PANTHERS LINEBACKER FRANKIE LUVU
RE: His forced fumble
It was just an emphasis in practice. Just trying to get the ball out. That series was a long series, so I knew the offense was tired, we were tired, but at the end of the day we put an emphasis on getting the ball out, so that was my whole mindset.
RE: What the journey has been like for you
It's been good, nothing but a blessing. Trying to get better each day, vets like Shaq Thompson, Haason Reddick and Brian Burns, just picking their minds, trying to learn their games and just try to go out there and help the team in any way I can.
RE: What you think you showed the coaches in camp and the preseason
Just trying to show them that I'm a guy that they can trust on the field, do my job and just try to make plays and hopefully the defense and offense and the whole team will feed off of that. So, nothing but energy and a guy who just does his job.
RE: Why are you always around the football
Coach Snow always says "just be around the ball". When they turn on the tape and you're around the ball, that's kind of a mindset of when I started playing under Coach Kevin Greene. He used to coach me. I kind of took that mindset and brought it over here and just carried on with it.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER HAASON REDDICK
RE: Frankie Luvu's energy
I love - we call him vso but I love vso, I love Frankie, high intensity guy, motor, doesn't stop, makes big plays in practice and it's carrying over to the field. Second week in the row where you just know he's on the field. He's making plays, terrific ball player, I love him.
RE: The interception
It was really Derrick Brown, his pass rushing. I dropped in coverage, he was pass rushing, he got his hands up and tipped the ball and one thing that we preach is tips and over throws equals picks (interceptions). He tipped it and then it landed in my area, I caught it and got a couple of yards. So, that assist came from Derrick Brown.
RE: Being on the field with the starters
It was love man, I've been dying to get on the field with these guys since the day that I found out that I was going to be here. A lot of terrific guys on the defensive side of the ball and I'm happy to play with these guys. I'm happy to be here because I think that we can be something special. I think this defense can be something special, I think that we have all the right pieces. So, to be out there today, even though it was for a series. Just to be out there today running around with them and being able to make that play, it was good. It was a momentum boost and hopefully something that we can continue to carry.
RE: Emphasis on getting off the field on third down
It's always an emphasis no matter who's on the field. For me once I got off the field, I was just trying to coach up the young guys on the defensive side of the ball. I just try to do my part as a leader and continue to try and keep the guys encouraged on defense, continue to try and help them. Just encourage them to play hard and finish the game strong.
View game action photos from Carolina's preseason game against Baltimore at Bank of America Stadium.