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Carolina Panthers

Postgame Transcripts: Week 4 vs. Arizona Cardinals

Head coach Matt Rhule

RE: Opening Statement

Credit to Arizona. I thought they obviously played a really, really good game. Made the plays they had to down the stretch. Obviously, for us, we know. Everyone in that locker room knows that wasn't good enough. That was a game that we had a chance to win. It was 10-10 going into the 4th quarter. Got away from us. Could not make the plays at the end to go win the football game. Offensively, I thought third downs, yet again, third and fourth downs continue to be an issue for us. Defensively, I thought they played well for a long, long time but allowed them to make some plays in the fourth quarter. Then obviously, we had too many special teams' penalties that hurt us in the football game.

RE: Batted passes

They showed up today. There is no denying that we have to get it fixed. For us, I think we have to go back and watch the tape. That last one was 4th and half a foot. It was a hand off to Christian [McCaffrey] with an RPO verses free access. Kind of the same type of throw we had made before the half to DJ [Moore] to kick the field goal. You know, sort of that out route. I have to see the tape. I know they blitzed off the edge so I have to see exactly. I saw one on the jumbotron. They kind of mirrored the quarterback and got their hands up. I can't give you a definitive, 'hey, we have to do this.' I do know we have to get it corrected. That's too many. Obviously, one leading to a back breaking interception that led to I think 10 points off of turnovers.

RE: Not being able to capitalize against Arizona's pass defense

Just wasn't good enough. I think it was third down, it was obviously three turnovers.  You know you can't play that way. You have the ball down inside the red zone with a chance to go…about to run the reverse to DJ from what I look like, I know sometimes you guys have the tv copy, looked like the reverse was going to be there, we fumble the exchange. I can't say anything else other than just go to the stats. We knew they were going to load up on the run. They did a good job. We had some opportunities. We had Robbie [Anderson] on the over route, we had a chance to be a big play there in third quarter. We weren't able to complete that. A lot things that have to be corrected offensively especially, I thought our defense was kind of fighting and hanging in there and keeping it a close game and just kind of waiting for the offense. In the end, I think the time of possession in the second half was brutal against our defense and you know, our defense has to get off the field, don't get me wrong. But they just needed some spells so I think offensively we have to go back and look at everything and see what we can do better, see what we are doing well and try to fix what ails us right now because it took a toll on us tonight.

RE: If he considered replacing Baker Mayfield today

No, I didn't think about that today. I was just kind of in the moment, like, 'hey, go to the next drive.' Trying to again, get down there, score a touchdown, go for two, thinking 'hey, let's kick it deep and play defense.' So, hoping that we could make something happen. Its hard for me after the game to sit here, obviously, I know it wasn't good enough and I know the numbers aren't what they need to be in a lot of different areas. I have to really though, even as I said to the team, go back and really look and see why is this happening, why are we not playing better than this. I know we have the personnel on offense to make plays and it's just not coming together the way it needs to.

RE: If he envisioned Christian McCaffrey having 8 carries today?

No, they stopped the run at a pretty good level. He was able to make a couple plays there. Again, the touches, when you do touches you're talking off of 65 or 70 plays, we keep not being on the field. I think third down is just absolutely attacking us. So, we planned on playing Christian. I wanted to get D'Onta [Foreman] going. I wanted to get Chuba [Hubbard] in the game. I wanted to get a bunch of guys involved but between the turnovers and the inability to convert third downs, we just weren't able to have enough plays. 

RE: If Sam Darnold is coming off IR this week and the potential to replace Mayfield?

I don't have any thoughts on anything moving forward yet. I can really talk right now about this game. I don't know anything in terms of anybody health wise so I can't make any comments on that. I think for me right now, obviously, we are going to go back. We are going to watch the tape. We are going to try to get these things corrected. Usually on Mondays, I can give you guys some better answers in terms of exactly what we will try to do moving forward.

RE: Reason for going for the early 4*th* and short

It was 4th and half of a foot. To me at the end of the day, we have done that consistently, the analytics say it, we have a big powerful offensive line. We just got beat. Linebacker walked up and just beat us inside. Met us in the backfield. I thought defense did a great job going out and holding them. I think it was to a field goal or whatever it was. We have Christian McCaffrey. We have a big powerful offensive line. We are going to go out there and we are going to take those chances. We expect ourselves to convert those.

RE: If he thinks Sam Darnold is close to coming off of IR

I don't know that. In all seriousness, the doctors they work on all of those things for all of our players. I have no updates on him health wise.

RE: If he starts to lose confidence in his own approach or second guesses

No. I can understand why the question is asked. That's a good question. But, no, all I know is to just keep trying to help the team be better. I think we have a good defense. We have good special teams though they did hurt us with some penalties tonight and I believe in the guys on offense. So, to me we are just going to try to correct it. We are going to come back in and keep working away at it. There is really nothing else I can say other than that. There are plays to be made there. We are just going to continue to work at it.

RE: How he keeps the locker room from splintering with the offense and defense playing the way they are

I don't ever worry about that. We have elite men and leaders in the room. I think on defense when you have Shaq [Thompson], Frankie [Luvu] and Donte [Jackson] and Brian [Burns] and those guys, at the end of the day defensively, I know they expect to pitch a shut out in the 4th quarter. Even if the ball is on the four, hold them to a field goal. So, I'm sure that they are disappointed but they're leaders and they're men who believe in what we are doing. I don't worry about those guys doing that. All that being said, all the emotion of it is what it is. We have to score points in this league if you want to win. We have to continue to get better.

RE: Why there was a player down field on the fake punt

Honestly, I'll have to give you a better answer tomorrow because we called the fake and that's a fake you only run verses certain looks and so I think some guys might of just thought, because you could see Hekker was looking for it and it was a great play by Johnny, but, Sam [Franklin Jr.] didn't really kind of run it until he realized it. I think when they saw them double the gunners, some guys thought they checked it off so I'll have to go back before I can pin it on anything. But at the end of the day, some guys ran it, some guys didn't because the defense gave us double both gunners and then came inside. Johnny had made the throw so we were going to try to be aggressive and try to jump start the team and get it going. Thought we had a good play there but unfortunately it came back.

RE: Where he is with Baker Mayfield and the offense

I'm going to refrain from anything big picture really until tomorrow. At the end of the day, I'm on the headset. I see the things and I know it's never just one person here, one person there. It's a lot of different things. I'll try to give you a really well thought out answer after watching the tape. All that being said, I believe that we can play better than that. I believe like 10-10 going into the 4th quarter that we are going to make some plays. You see Christian [McCaffrey] make some plays at the end of the game and takes us down the field. DJ [Moore] makes some plays. Robbie [Anderson] made some plays early. I just feel like we have to expect more than that from all of us as offense. Again, I always start with me first. To his point back there, at the end of the day, offensively, we have to score more points. That starts with me, goes to Ben [McAdoo], goes to the assistant coaches and players. We have to get it corrected. But in terms of any one person or anything like that, I just don't think its right to speak on it now.

RE: What he saw on the first interception to DJ Moore

We had that kind of dialed up all week. DJ [Moore] you know, ran the corner route, got in behind him. Looked like the ball was a little bit behind him. Again, I don't want to say it was on this guy or that guy. I have to go back and watch the tape to see the angle because we set certain angles. Baker [Mayfield] saw it. He made the throw. It was right there. Just weren't able to connect on it. Great play by Budda Baker, one of the best players in the National Football League. Running to the ball, made the interception. I can't put it on any one guy but that was kind of the right read. We knew if we got man we were going to try and isolate DJ and have him go in and he won. We just weren't able to throw and catch it. But again, I can't say who that was on until I watch the tape. Obviously have two turnovers on their side of the 40 going in. That's a challenge.

QB Baker Mayfield

RE: How do you explain the lack of production today?

Just didn't make the plays when they were there, not a whole lot. Have to look at the tape but we just didn't make the plays that were there.

RE: Do you feel like you are being put in the best position to succeed here in Carolina?

Yeah, I am not going to fall for that trap. We have plays to be made. We have to find ways to complete the ball. We had a good game plan, we just didn't execute it. I guess I have to look at the tape, figure it out and go from there.

RE: Completion percentage

It's a lot like you said. It's everybody, that goes for the run game as well. When we're not running the ball well, that goes on everybody. Like I said, have to look at the tape. Have to look to see if we were detailed enough but I know there were definitely plays to be made there that we didn't.

RE: How do you not allow batted passes to get in your head?

Just go to the next play.

RE: Have the other teams figured out when you are going to throw to make that leap to bat down the passes?

I don't know. I haven't asked the other teams if they have figured it out. I don't know if they have or not.

RE: What can you do to fix the batted passes?

We have to look at the tape and see what we need to do. There's barely, not a whole lot I can give you right now. Have to look at the tape and see whether they were rushing or not. It's not like they were really getting home on pass rush. Stopping their feet and they're putting their hands up. That's part of when your o-line plays well in the pass game. We have to find a way to get around it.

RE: Your emotions through four weeks and how this is going so far

Obviously, I am frustrated with the fact that we are 1-3. That's it though. We are four weeks into the year. We can sit here and let you guys pile on us or we are going to come together as a locker room. That is exactly how we are going to handle it. I don't really care about the fact that our fans are booing or what's going on. We are going to figure it out. And when we win, it'll still be just us in the locker room and that's really all I care about. So we are going to be just fine.

RE: Where are you looking to get better at and make those improvements?

Everywhere. It's all the little details. Whether it's communication, getting on the same page, whether its just executing, we just have to go play ball. I said multiple times, we just need to go play ball.

RE: Does the booing truly not affect you at all?

Did we go down and score a touchdown after they started booing? Yes.

RE: Whether this is one of the more challenging stretches of your football life

No, this is a four-game stretch that everybody wanted to have more success including us. It is frustrating, we are frustrated, but it's not the end of the world. We can still turn this thing around. We are four games into the year, we are going to be just fine.

RE: How long do you think it will take the offense to get there?

We are close. Like I said, there are plays to be made that we just didn't today. If we make a few of those, this is a different ball game. We are not sitting here acting like the world is ending. Like I said, we are going to look at the tape and figure it out.

RE: Did you come into this game thinking it was a better opportunity for you guys to gel being that Arizona has struggled in pass defense and third down defense?

I just thought it was a better opportunity for us as an offense just because we have put in the work. We talked about what we needed to do. We had a great week at practice, great game plan and we just didn't execute it. It wasn't about them. The mindset for us is it needs to be completely on us. We have to figure it out and we have to go execute.

RE: Fumbled exchange with Rashard Higgins

Quite honestly, I am not really sure, have to look at the tape. When I handed it off, I thought he had secured it but obviously that is one of those things that you have to double check. Like I said, have to look at the tape.

RE: This game seems to have pissed you off?

When you turn the ball over that many times when you lose, when you should have won the game and I feel like we should have won the game, it should piss me off. I should never be happy with losing and I never will be. So this does piss me off. I expect more out of this group, I expect more out of myself. We are going to stick together. That is really all I care about. We are going to keep going, we are going to figure it out. We are going to find a way to win.

RE: Have you had the end or the world mindset recently or throughout your career?

Pretty much had that my whole career, whole life. It's part of who I am.

RE: What was Arizona showing you defensively that you were not expecting?

Nothing. Like I said, there were plays to be made that we just didn't. We stalled out, hurt ourselves, just not executing enough.

RE: Carolina Panthers defense

They continue to play well. That's why I am so frustrated because we have to play better as an offense. They continue to make plays. When you let an offense that's as high caliber as the Cardinals, they have that many series and have that good field position with some of those turnovers, things are going to happen. Defense continues to play well. We trust those guys, they trust us. Like I said we are going to stick together in that locker room, that's it.

RE: What does better execution look like?

Converting third downs, not hurting ourselves, no penalties, turnovers obviously is the number one thing. All that goes into execution. Little details on routes, little details on my timing. It is everything as a whole.

DE Brian Burns

RE: Defense carrying the load

We went into the game not focused on the scoreboard. We were focused on finishing the 60 minutes which was one of our goals last week. We didn't get it accomplished because we gave up 14 points in the 4th quarter.

RE: Defensive fatigue in the second half

I wouldn't say we were tired, we're in great shape. It's just hard to stop somebody for so long but that's our goal. We have to finish strong no matter how fast we start early. We wanted to get a fourth quarter shutout and we didn't get it.

RE: Believing in Coach Rhule

For sure, we'll never fade or get away from that. Our main thing is to keep the locker room together and stay with our process and just keep pounding. This whole day was about that and it's what we preached on the sideline every time we went out. Just keep your head up and play ball. Don't worry about time, score, or what the other side is doing. We just have to go ball.

RE: Having Baker's back in adversity

It's not tough at all, he's my teammate.

LB Frankie Luvu

RE: His interception returned for a touchdown in the first half

I was just running my landmark at the right time. Guy came across and I undercut it. The rest was in the endzone. Shout out to the guys that blocked.

RE: Defense wearing down in the second half

I don't think we wore down. It's just everybody knows the defense has to challenge ourselves.

RE: After the whistle with James Conner

It was just the heat of the moment. He's a good running back and we were talking back and forth. A lot of emotions on the field. I kind of got in my way in that moment which cost us. 

RE: Keeping the locker room together

[Keep] coming into work. Win or lose just come in make the corrections and move on to the next week. Guys are banged up. Just got to come back healthy.

WR DJ Moore

RE: On how the passing game has taken a while to develop

No, we just got to pitch and catch. At the end of the day the pass game won't just come along. As long as we have sustained drives, you know everybody won't get a touch of the ball as you seen today. So, it's really nothing to it, we just have to go out there and execute.

RE: On what frustrated DJ Moore about the offense today

Frustrating? When you had two turnovers. That's the most frustrating part. So that kills drives that we had going.

RE: On how he has seen inconsistency at the QB position and on if he still has confidence in Baker Mayfield

No, it's not fair. It's a team game. You know, if one person doesn't do their job, it affects the other 11. It all goes hand in hand. Nobody's looking down on anybody. Right now. We're just going to go back to the drawing board as always, and just see how we can improve day to day. And I was spot seeing things like our group, we could just be on assignments, always. And then that's all. That's all I can say.

RE: On how the quick 3 and out straight out of half affected the momentum

The loss of momentum was a big part of coming out in half. And we wanted to start fast, just like we did, always but it didn't happen. You can't just dwell on that. We just got to go out the next series and make it up.

RE: On how the locker room feels after now being (1-3)

Take it one game at a time. What are we one and three. Still got 14 games, what is 13? Whatever? Plus, one we're going to make playoffs, I don't care. We're just going to keep it pushing going week to week.

RB Christian McCaffrey

RE: On what the issues were with the offense today

There was a lot of problems. We got to fix them.

RE: On if the issues on the offense are easily fixable

Every problem is fixable. I think that's the frustrating part. We're on to the next week. We got to flush it. We got to fix it though. We've got to get better.

RE: On which problems bother him the most

All problems bother me.

RE: On what his message to his teammates is after this loss

I don't like making blanket statements after games. I think the most important thing first is to watch the tape. Take it one step at a time. Each play has a life of its own. We just need to stop beating ourselves. 

RE: On if a lot of problems make it harder to pinpoint specific problems

No. Any given Sunday. Every week. Today, we didn't play well enough to win. That doesn't mean that next week we won't.

RE: On complimentary football and what it meant to have the defense make some great plays

The defense did great. We just have to do better on offense.

RE: On if the offense had trouble executing or miscommunication

I just think they're probably a little bit of both. You're not going to win every rep, but it's important that when you do have the play that you make them.

RE: On the team not running the ball very well

I thought a lot of our called runs, we actually ran it pretty well. I just think we couldn't take a lot opportunities because we weren't good enough on third down. We didn't move the sticks. When we were down, we didn't get to the run game because we were tempo mode. Had to go down and score. Games like that happen.

RE: On if the team needs to make a change at quarterback

I'm not the coach. I know all of us, as well as myself, have full confidence in Baker (Mayfield) and his ability to play football.

RE: On the importance of the home games and on the "boos" from fans

It's part of the deal. Got to win games. We're one and three with a lot of football left. All of our goals still ahead of us. You're going to have people turn on you. It is what it is. We got to play better. I don't focus on anything like that. Does not matter. Doesn't matter. It's just up to us to put one foot in front of the other. Take a good long look at ourselves in the mirror. Fix the mistakes and move on.

RE: On what he sees behind the scenes that makes him optimistic about fixing the mistakes

Our guys work really hard. It's not a lack of hard work. That's something that's encouraging and frustrating. It's a lack of execution on this Sunday. I'm not going to speak for every Sunday. Like I said, this is a week-to-week league. I've seen teams just last year, one and seven, win eight straight. You're never out of the fight. We're definitely not out of fight now.

RE: On if the Cardinals defense seemed to know when Baker Mayfield was going to throw it


RE: On how confident he was that he was going to play today

I was confident. 

RE: On how he felt playing in the game

I felt good. You're always going to play with some stuff. But got through it.

View best in-game photos from Carolina's game against Arizona.

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