HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
RE: Opening Statement
All right, obviously, a credit to Buffalo. Found a way to win the game. I'd be remissed if I didn't start off by thanking Zylstra for stepping up and kicking off, and just kind of doing whatever he could to help the team after Zane's injury in pregame. Obviously, precluded us from kicking some field goals at times and keeping it a different game. Obviously, the last disappointing thing for me is just the undisciplined personal fouls. One I believe leads to points at the end of the half in the two-minute offense and then obviously, we have them stopped, give them a first down, quarterback scrambles, they get they get a touchdown. Really 10 points to me comes off of undisciplined plays by our defensive linemen. That too was the story of the game. As we move forward, I thought the guys played hard. I thought guys battled, but wasn't good enough.
RE: The fourth and one decision to throw a quick screen to Robby Anderson:
It's a zone read play. It shouldn't be thrown. It's a zone read. There's a bubble on there in case an unblocked blitzer comes. The mike point, we had that guy blocked so that's a that's just an error by the quarterback. It should be a handoff first down, or he pulls the ball. There's one only one guy over there. Just poor execution, but it was the right play call by Jeff. I mean it's going to be a first down.
RE: Whether Cam Newton's decision is a product of not being as familiar with the playbook:
It wasn't done right. It wasn't executed. I mean, I can't sit here and say why. He saw the guy blitz, you can throw the bubble off the blitz, but we have that guy blocked. It should be handed off.
RE: Zane Gonzalez's injury during pregame:
Yeah, I was in here. Scott came running in, he was warming up. Did his warm up, went to make it first kick, and pulled his quad muscle. Pretty severe. They had to help them off the field, help him up in here. The extent of that, beyond that, I don't know.
RE: Any past experiences with a specialist getting hurt in pregame:
Yeah, I had our kickoff guy punt guy. Our starting punter tore his ACL on the opening kickoff my first year at Baylor. So we had to put the kicker, had to go in and punt. He then actually tore his ACL of the last game of the year and actually punted the whole game with a torn ACL to get us through the game. We were able to at least get a guy in there. We tried Lachlan out, he just wasn't really comfortable kicking off.
RE: The down field passing game:
You know, we took the one shot. We got behind them. It was a really nice route by DJ. I thought it was maybe pass interferance, but just weren't able to get the ball there to him. I think all things go into it. Certainly right now, our passing down the fields is not one of our strengths. Holding on to the football in kind of those duress situations is not really one of our strengths. We did take a shot. DJ did win. Called another one later down the left sideline that was incomplete. We tried to call two of them, just haven't really hit him.
RE: The decision to not play PJ Walker:
You know, I thought we went down the first or second drive, whatever it was, obviously, we were in field goal range. We don't have a kicker. Normally, I take the points there. We went down scored a touchdown, came out of the half. We hadn't scored for a while and then the defense got the turnover. I was kind of like, alright, that's a time where I thought about maybe, hey do I put PJ in to start dropping back and throwing it. We got the ball at the 40 yard line, so it was kind of like alright, we can run a normal offense. Hit the reverse for big play. I think it was just a matter of, we were moving the ball really by running the quarterback. I think we had 151 yards rushing today. I thought that was our best chance to move the football was to run the quarterback and continue the zone reads and some of those things.
RE: Looking at failed fourth down conversions as turnovers:
I think they're different. They're the same but they're different. [The other team] obviously still gets the ball. That's kind of situation we were in today with the kicker. Fourth and one, we're going to go for it all the time. Fourth and one and a half, two, we're going to go for it pretty much all the time. Especially in that area, the forty, the fifty. In terms of down the field, going for it on fourth and 10, I normally would never do that. It's just kind of what it is. I think that's part of it. I think all turnovers are a little bit different. Third down, you throw the ball up, it's a 30 yard change of possession. That is what it is. I thought we eliminated the catastrophic plays today on offense we've been having. I thought we were cleaner in that regard. I think we were in the 40 percents on third down. We just didn't complete enough balls. I think we're less than 50% today.
RE: Being surprised at the amount of blitzes by the Bills' defense:
No, we kind of watched them against Tampa Bay last week. I think their answer, they kept bringing man pressures to any kind of tempo. We expected a lot of that. A lot of that was to take away our run game and make us throw the football. On those plays, just didn't hurt him enough.
RE: What the offense could've done better:
I think if we would've kicked the two field goals, the two times were down there, we had to go for it on fourth down. Obviously, we would've scored 20. The biggest issue is just our ability to throw the ball at a high level, to Joe's point, create some explosive plays, we're having to grind things out. To Will's question, if you go for it on 4th and 1, you're saying, hey, I know it's going to be a higher scoring game, let's go for it. What you don't want to do is give them the ball there. When they started with the ball down inside their own 20, we were really pretty successful early. It's a shame because I thought our defense for long stretches played really well in that game. I hate the fact that we stopped them and then we gave them that stupid penalty to give them the first down and they go down to score. Then obviously the touchdown at the end of the game. Phil is such a professional he all out blitzed them out and he's saying like, hey, our only chance is to stop them here. They threw the naked and scored the touchdown. We held them to whatever that was 17 points or 16 points through three quarters pretty much until that penalty. All that's just talk, don't get me wrong, we've got to be a little bit better offensively to help the defense, but I think at the end of the day, Jonathan, I think it really just comes down to our ability to throw the ball and create some explosive plays, that side of the game. I mean, we run from 150 that gives us a chance.
RE: Whether Sam Darnold can potentially help the passing offense:
I probably won't speak too much about moving forward till I get back and I see what Sam's health status is, I'll give you guys a good update of where we are moving forward. But you guys know me pretty well I'm not going to make big statements right after the game. I don't think it's healthy for anything. So, I'll talk to you guys tomorrow, I'll see where we are really at all positions, and we'll do whatever is best. I'll say it again, I thought a lot of guys played really, really hard today, we just needed to make some plays that you know, that credit to them that they make, I can see why they're a really good team, right? Third and whatever and they make that unbelievable catch in the back of the endzone and so I think that dynamic element to our offense is certainly missing. We have to work really hard for everything that we get and that would certainly help but in terms of who's playing quarterback nothing right now.
RE: Whether losing Zane Gonzalez changed the strategy of the game:
Yeah, I mean it was like a cram set, that's not something we expected. If anything, I would have come into this game typically been like hey, its windy weather let's kick short field goals, take points. We really thought our defense was going to play well. We've gone down three nothing and then we wouldn't have done that. So even on third down, 3rd and 7 when you know you're going to kick a field goal, you kind of go for it on 3rd and 7th. Where were kind of, hey, 3rd and 7 let's run and get the 4th and 3 try to convert it. That one drive we threw the 4th and 3 went for it, got it, and then the next 4th down we didn't get it. So that would've been a situation where I would've kicked it. I think at the time we had not got the two-point conversion on the second touchdown. So maybe it was a 13-point game or whatever I would normally take the points there, take the field goal. So, all that was unique and hard in terms of preparing and also our third-down calls change the minute that, that happen.
RE: Knowing the offense would have to score touchdowns to win the game:
Oh yeah, I think at the end of the day if it would have been 4th and 2, 4th and 3 we planned on going for a lot of those right? I'm just saying 4th and 10, obviously we're going to take points. I want to make sure the final score is the final score; you guys know me the score is the score. We gave up that last touchdown there kind of in desperation mode. I thought the defense set up a score, played well enough that if we were able to do get some more points, can hang around and the whole point was to hang around and make it a game in the fourth quarter and again you go back to that penalty and then obviously not responding to it on offense that was really a killer for the game.
QB CAM NEWTON
RE: What was learned during the time away from the game at the beginning of the season and applying it for the remainder of the season:
Yeah, you just got to keep going. I think in times like this you really find purpose in tapping back game with who you really are. Being a parent, I think that kind of braces you for the integrity that she's supposed to have right now. My children are old enough to know now who daddy is and what daddy do. I can't cower away from looking down the barrel and really analyzing myself first. So, I'll keep my head up and just keep preparing. This the NFL you know, no sob stories, just get the job done.
RE: What are the issues with the passing game:
I don't know.
RE: What went wrong on the fourth and one screen to Robby Anderson:
Just got to go back and watch the film.
RE: Analyzing where his personal game is right now:
Well, you just got to keep working. I think the harsh reality about what we do is we only get judged on Sundays. So never mind what you're going through personally, never mind what the things are that's happening on the field as well as off the field as a production piece that's where we're analyzed on.
RE: The most frustrating part of his performance this season so far:
RE: Issues with the passing attack:
Not sure. I can't make a rational comment right now because it's right after the game. Some things you just got to go back analyze on the film and just make the proper adjustments come next game.
RE: On the deep pass to DJ Moore:
Just trying to take a shot.
RE: Handling the outside blitzes:
I wouldn't say corner blitzes it was safety blitzes. But, you know, that's what they do. They had a great plan for us. We had a great plan for them too, we just have to execute the game plan, and it comes down to players playing and me being one of those players, you just got to get the job done.
WR BRANDON ZYLSTRA
RE: Past experiences kicking:
Back in high school. My senior year, we had our starting kicker go down. So I filled in. That's how I got that job. How this one kind of came about is, coach Chase was walking around the locker room before the game. Said Zane hurt himself and was just asking who had no prior kicking experience. I was like I did it a few times back in high school. Kind of did like the same job I did today. I'd kick and run down. Essentially, an unblocked guy. Nobody usually blocks a kicker. Except in the NFL, they're a little bit shiftier.
RE: Reaction to having to kick:
I mean, I don't mind. I tell my coaches all the time, I'm an athlete. That's kind of my joke with them. I tell them, I'm a man who can kind of do everything. I welcome the challenge.
RE: Field goal range if the team called on him to kick:
No, we didn't talk about field goals too much. They were just looking for somebody to kind of kick off. Just kind of kick some squibs out there. We tested, I think I kicked three field goals in pregame. I think I only made one from like 25. I have no idea what my range would be. I need a kicking coach for that.
RE: The down field passing struggles:
I mean, it is what it is. We try to do what we're good at. Obviously, we try to take some shots every once in a while. I feel like we have a super well balanced team with weapons kind of everywhere. Our biggest thing is just try to get the ball in everybody's hands and let the players make plays.
RE: What seems to be the issues in the down field passing game:
I think we just have to execute all around and then stuff like that will start connecting after a while. We need to execute the runs, the RPOs, and quick game. Then I think all that will kind of open up the long passes.
RE: Seeing Zane Gonzalez get hurt while having a career year:
It is tough. You know, he's had one heck of a year so far. He's Mr. Automatic out there. You just feel for him. We all wish him the best. I don't know how extensive his injury is, but I know there's an entire team out there that's got his back.
RE: Thoughts on Sam Darnold playing any during the last three games of the season:
That's all over my head. I can't comment on anything like that.
View photos of game action between Carolina and Buffalo in Week 15 of the 2021 season.