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Postgame Transcripts: Week 8 at Atlanta


"Obviously happy with the win. It was a hard-fought game, certainly wasn't perfect. A lot of credit to the Falcons. Even at the end, we had a chance to put the game away they came back and force it to go down to an onside kick. So very similar to last year's game. But I thought our guys did the things we asked him to do. We were able to run it 46 times, 60 percent on third down all the things I've talked to you guys about that had to happen. Today they happened on defense. I thought that they played a good game on defense, close to a fourth-quarter shutout. The only issue being way too many drives kept going because of defensive penalties. So it's something we'll have to continue to correct. We had eight penalties in the game, whereas they only have three. I thought they're either an outstanding team, an excellent team, a team that was hot, and really proud of our guys for showing up today and playing well." 

On the importance of establishing the run: 

"I thought it was what was kind of the game plan going in and kind of what we wanted to do last week and we didn't really kind of never got it going. I think sometimes weeks like last week happened for you to go back and really self-reflect and say, 'Hey, we say we're going to do these things are we going to do them.' We had some bloody runs, we had some second down runs and went for it to get down third ones and quarterback sneaks. Find a bunch of different ways to try to do it. You can only do that when you're converting third downs. As I said on Wednesday, I thought we were excellent on third down. And Sam gave us a lot of plays with his legs, which we knew was going to be important. So, we've talked a lot about it today. We finally did. First time since I've been here we ran for 200-yards so it's a step in the right direction. Let me say, I thought Ameer Abdullah was just an absolute jolt of energy for us today and was excellent."

On the mood of the locker room and how good it was to get a win:

"Well, I think they're happy, because they won and I think because it was a team win, right? I don't know if you noticed on the sidelines during the game like when the offense was up, our defense was standing up. I just challenged them to play this game together. This can't be offensive or defensive or offensive or there defensive, it had to be us as a team. I thought our team rallied together. So I think that they liked that part of it. We had some tough plays. Stephon Gilmore steps up and makes it play. Ameer was a jolt, DJ made a play, Robby gets knocked down and gets back up, Sam takes that big hit at the end. I think he showed the team his toughness that he was going to do whatever it took for us to win today. So I think our entire team I think they felt good about those things. I'm the coach. I'm always the negative one. Let's get back on it next week. But I think they had some joy about the way we played. It wasn't easy. No, that was hard. That's a really good football team we faced and we found a way to get it done."

On an update on QB Sam Darnold:

"I don't know exactly. I just know he got hit and then they said, Coach, he's out. Right? And I saw him walking off and then in the post-game, he was up in the post-game, so I never know where those things are. Look like an obvious head injury. So we'll see where they put him in the protocol." 

On QB Sam Darnold back-to-back runs in the 4th quarter:

"One was just a drop back, got outside the pocket. They were playing a lot of robbing coverage, two high and robbing one of our receivers so the answer is to run and we have little keys to victory every week and one of the challenges to him this week was to run for 89 yards and he ran for 66. And then the second play was a heck of a call by Joe and he was a zone-read, pulled it at the right, hadn't shown that all game, and pulled it and went into go score. I didn't see it. I didn't see really what happened. I thought it was an excellent called game and more importantly, guys made a lot of plays, and Sam I thought was excellent today."

On committing to the running game:

"Joe was locked in on it and a couple of times we had a run and we had a pass-pass. at the end of the half and that was a check. We called a run and they were all up and so we checked to a pass. Joe went into this game knowing, Hey, this is how we're going to have to win this game for us to have a chance.' And again, I'll say it takes everybody though like your defense has to be playing well. You have to be converting third downs. That was our sixth different offensive line combination of the year and they got it done. We left some things out there. We had a big third-down that we converted that went the wrong way down here. There was a hold that was called back. We had two drives we started in the last drive we started with penalties came didn't have to be that close in terms of respectfully in terms of that field goal at the end. We've got to be a little more discipline, but the effort intensity was there so I was proud of it."

On whether it was a championship-level performance for the defense:

"I don't really live in that world. Like it was good for today. That was a good performance today. You can have that many defensive penalties and let them extend drives. I mean, at the end of the day they scored. Probably the best thing that they did was the first drive and the first fumble for them to go out and answer and hold them to a field goal was awesome. But defensively, there's a lot of things that I'm sure the guys will say we have to clean up. I think you guys would know probably better than me, like four or five times of drives extended because of penalties. So to me, that was just good enough to win today. We have to be better next week obviously."

On creating two turnovers on defense:

"I was fired up about that. We haven't had a ton of turnover games. So obviously the second one being when it counted and Burns had a great pass rush. Like when you win there's always really good things and bad things when you lose there's also really good things. One of my messages to the team was, last week was painful but it's not as bad as it looks. You're a closer team. We were a little closer today but just good enough for today."

On how they contained TE Kyle Pitts and CB Stephon Gilmore's performance against Pitts:

"I think we had to do two defensive pass interference with holdings against him that extended drives, but really didn't give up the big one right. He's an outstanding player. I talked to him after the game, you forget how big he is. He's going to be just a great player in this league for a long time. Obviously, Stephon in certain packages played on him. He ended up playing 25-30 maybe. But certain packages did a really nice job of playing against him, but also I think it was a combination of everybody. It was a good disguise today, there was stop the run as I said, it was good pressure at time. Stephon hopefully comes out of this game. He feels healthy on Monday. We can he pushed him forward to next week."

On finding the identity of the team with their running game, and how offensive looks with RB Christian McCaffrey possibly returning:

"I said like 'Hey, we were not at our identity like we got to develop it right.' I think I've known Hey, this is what I want us to look like, I know it's not always going to be 46 runs, but I want it to be in 30s. I've always kind of said, hey, you need to run the ball 30 times. And I think what it did for our defense today was even when it was four or five, six plays, even if it's a field goal, man, they have a chance to regroup. And we can play to our strengths. This is what it took today and we're going to face another team that's going to put nine guys at the line of scrimmage, you're going to have to be able to throw a catch it. Every game has its own game if they react to what happens in that game. So it was good for today. I can't wait to have Christian back but I'm certainly not going to start thinking about moving forward. To me, this is what we did today. It's probably what we should've done last week and the week before. There's a lot of reasons for that but I'm proud of our coaches proud. Joe took a lot of heat, the offensive staff Pat Meyer, how is the O-line. When you run for 200 yards in the NFL, the O-line played well, and so I'm happy for those things." 

On when he expects RB Christian McCaffrey to return and whether QB Sam Darnold's injury changes anything offensively:

"I'd have to see what it is, like if he was that long term we'd probably have to go find someone to come in and play with PJ. You can see Joe's got some confidence in PJ. On the first play on the one-yard line, he throws it. I didn't like the throw PJ heard about it from me. I think you know, we'd have to react, anytime we have injuries we have to react but it just some global thing. And then I have no idea you know. You guys know kind of wait till Wednesday and see where he's at Wednesday and practice Wednesday. He'll be out there Thursday, but I will say I thought Chuba ran hard, Royce did some really good things. And then Ameer like I said he was a jolt for us today. It's a shame that one third-down got called back because I think he's got something to him that even the third-down conversion. Those routes that we usually run with Christian, and I think Sam's developing a really nice rapport with Ameer. So whenever Christian comes back, it's just another premier talent to go along with a bunch of other guys who are figuring it out."

On LB Shaq Thompson's performance:

"I was fired up. I mean, this is a player's league, players win games, players win championships. To get two takeaways today from Stephon Gilmore and Shaq Thompson like that's this game, right? So, everybody else has to do their job in order to do their job. Everyone has to execute, do their assignments, play hard, be physical, you have to have a brand of football. Then you need guys to make some special plays and so Sam made some special plays and Ameer did, DJ did. Were also fingertip balls a couple times from having some really other huge things. Bobby took the big hit all those different things happened. But Shaq stepped up, turn the tide of the game, and then obviously at the end that's two interceptions we had down on our side of the field. Atlanta is going to be in this haunt the whole way. I want to face them again. It was a good game today."


On QB Sam Darnold after leaving with head injury:

"Yeah, he's doing good. Saw him when I first got into the locker room. Hopefully he can come back this week and continue to play."

On getting put in the game late:

"I mean we (were) in the red zone. In my opinion, it's just more so go out there and deliver. We are already down there. Just go out there and play the game and take it slow. Just let it all come to me."

On was the team on playing for each other:

"It feel good. It feel good just because we've been struggling the past couple of weeks as everybody know but it's ways to win games and this was one of those wins that felt like we were out there playing for each other. Playing for one another; out there competing. We just felt the energy on that sideline today man. I had a ball out there. Whether I played 10 snaps or no snaps, at the end of the day I had fun out there with my brothers."

On preparation throughout the week:

"Throughout the week we've had meetings, and everybody gets an opportunity to speak their mind. When you get guys like that, that get to go out there and say what they say, how they feel and let everybody hear it, I mean it helps. As you've seen today, everybody was out there playing for each other. Offense was playing for the defense; defense was playing for the offense and offense and defense were out there playing for the special teams."

On what it took to get everyone on the same page in the running game

"I felt like we had a lot of dog in us today, to be honest. A lot of guys were out there playing hard, playing physical and I think that's the key to running the football. When you get a lot of guys to go out there and play the game and play physical, play hard and just execute. I think that was the main thing that we've struggled with the past couple weeks just executing on offense. We did a good job out there today running the ball. I think we had 204 rushing yards which is great. So, for us, just go out there and keep playing. We're going to have bad plays but don't let that bad play turn into a bad play the next play."

On conversation with coach Matt Rhule about his pass at the goal line

"He yelled, I yelled back. After he yelled at me, I was already onto the next play once I realized it was an incompletion. I expect that from him though. That's the way I want to be coached. That's the way I'm sure a lot of guys want to be coached. That's the reason I came here, to be honest. To get that type of coaching you know, it help you as a player."

On confidence level to win games if QB Sam Darnold is out

"My confidence level never changes. It's always up there. So, for me, just to go out there; I know the guys in that locker room believe in me and for me it's just to go out there and play and compete. Just to get the opportunity to go out there and play and compete with those guys is everything to me. I tell people a lot, I was home a year ago and two years ago, I was set. I don't want that feeling again. I tell guys that all the time. When you get an opportunity, you got to go out there and make the best of it. Whether its two plays or three plays, just go out there and make the best of it. Opportunities come and go, so when you get your chance, you got to make it work make it count."

On whether he learned from the win he had last year

"It's a new year. Its going to be a new Sunday if that day comes. It's a new year, it's a new day. So, I'm not going to sit there and continue to be like oh, I got a win last year. That last year win don't mean nothing to me at this point. This is a new year. It's a new team as well. A new mindset. We've just got to go out there and keep playing for each other and I know those guys will go out there. If it was me up, I know they would go out there and play with the same energy and passion they did today.

On offensive coordinator Joe Brady's call for RB Chuba Hubbard's running touchdown:

"I think Joe did a great job just when he did call those plays of giving options. We ran the option play first, didn't score then we come out with another run-pass option so I could have ran it or threw it. Just to have that patience and get Chuba a chance. We was out there running the ball at will, at ease whenever we got a opportunity to so we just got to go out there and continue to run the ball. Joe knows that, this team knowns that. This team is going to go as far as that run game and the way things are playing out." 

On last what he saw two snaps vs Giants and Falcons now:

"For me it just to slow down. I play real fast sometimes. So, for me, its just to slow things down, take a couple deep breaths. Just go out there and play. Been playing this game for a long time so I feel like its just football at the end of the day. Nothing's changed. Everybody is out there still. You see the same defenses, just different variations. So, for me it's just to go out there and breathe and take my time and don't be out there rushing things. Patience."

View photos from Atlanta as the Panthers take on the Falcons in Week 8.

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