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Postgame Transcripts: Week 9 vs. New England

RE: Opening Statement

Obviously not a very good day for us. A lot of credit to the Patriots. I thought they did exactly what they needed to do to win the game. Special teams. Field position. Ran the football when it mattered. Good on third down. I thought our defense did a nice job in the second half. They had 100 yards rushing in the first half and came back and held them to like 46 in the second half. We were much better on third down in the second half. At the end of the day, the game comes down to turnovers. We gave away the ball three times. We were plus 2 in the first half without capitalizing much on. Offensively, it was about the turnovers and penalties. Just missed opportunities. Not very good. The defense I thought hung in there at times. Gave us a chance. But in the end, they played better than us so a lot of credit to them.

RE: Decision to not bench Sam Darnold

I thought he was going to have to play his way out of it. I just thought the shame of two of the interceptions were. The second one, I don't know that that was necessarily on him. He throws the ball, lineman jumps up and intercepts it. It is what it is. But the first one and the third one, the shame of it was down inside the 30-yard line about to get points and keep that a close game. He was moving the offense, made those two plays. Like anyone else, figuring what to do and just thought when we got the ball back there was seven minutes left, just wanted to see him take us down at the end and put us in the endzone. I pulled him two weeks ago and he played a really good game last week. I wanted to give him the chance to play his way out of it and try to at least get us in the endzone at the end. Just seemed like the right thing to do.

RE: Was Sam Darnold's lack of practice reps this week a contributing factor?

He would have to say. He got reps on Thursday. He got reps on Saturday. At the end of the day, I think that I don't want to lay things on one person but we just can't continue to keep throwing the ball up. We have to protect the football. If you have an interception, if it's a third down interception, that's one thing. A first or second down interception, can't happen. So, to me those are decision making things we have talked about and talked about and talked about and here we are at game nine of the season and it hasn't happened. I wouldn't say it was a misread or anything like that. Wasn't anything with the game plan. Obviously, we knew they were going to come out and try to take away the run. I thought Christian [McCaffrey] did a nice job of getting some things going for us at times but our ability in the first half to convert third downs and in the second half to turn the ball, really the passing game in general. As bad as it was, it still just comes down to me to throwing the ball up in the air and we just can't be that team. We never wanted to be that team. We can't be that team and unfortunately, we were that team in the second half today.

RE: Does Sam Darnold still give you the best opportunity to win?

I'll watch the tape before I make some big statement. To be quite honest, I want to make sure I see everything and consider all factors. I know Sam prepared hard. I thought he went out there I thought he showed toughness. He gritted to the end so I don't want to lay anything at his feet. We can't have a quarterback throwing the ball up in the air. He knows that. I know that. Whether we have to get with the coaches and figure out is it the coaching, is it him, what is it? We just can't keep doing this. But I have to see everything before I can probably answer that better tomorrow.

RE: Was Sam Darnold's history with Belichick and New England a factor in leaving him in?

No, no, just really thought about us.

RE: Christian McCaffrey's performance today

I thought it was a good first game back. We had him on a double move touchdown that got batted down early in the game. I thought he obviously was good as he always is in the passing game. I thought he was good in the running game. He is always going to generate offense. I thought he did a nice job of that. Obviously, it was good to have him back.

RE: Do you have enough of a sample size of Sam Darnold to determine if you can win with him?

I already answered that. I think I have to wait until tomorrow. I have seen good things. I have seen bad things. My job, our job, is to try to get people to play their best. We knew there would be some ups and downs. Again, I thought Sam did some good things today. It's just a matter of really two plays that can't happen. Two plays that are about to - still going to be a one-score game, a two-score game. If we just eliminate those plays but we haven't done it. It's a fair question. I want to make sure I say that. I don't want to answer those types of questions in my brain right now coming off the game. Obviously, we are all disappointed. I'm disappointed. We also don't need a 15-yard penalty when it is 2nd and six at the 20-yard line. All these things, you can preach it, you can talk about it, but at some point, we have to go do it. To have that many penalties, you know. One more thing our guys have to learn, when you have a reputation for getting penalties, you are going to get a lot of penalties thrown, even when they are tight. You know, we had ten penalties today. Just not a very good team loss.

RE: Does a conversation need to happen between wide receiver group and Sam Darnold (Robby Anderson's frustration)?

I saw that. I wouldn't make anything of that. Robby was frustrated because we had our third interception. I think we all were. It wasn't generated at anyone. It wasn't anything like that. We communicate a lot. All of know we are not going to win if we turn the ball over. That was the whole key to victory was protect the football. We did it in the first half. We didn't play great on offense in the first half either but I don't know what it was at halftime, 10-6 or 13-6, I think they scored right before the half. We just can't turn the ball over. I think all of us were frustrated with that.

RE: Offense was still down eight with being +2 in turnovers in the first half

No doubt. I think the first half was really an example of just third down, I think we were 1 of 6 or 1 of something on third down. Got into halftime and talked a lot about that. Knew we were going to throw it a little bit more in the second half. I thought we kind of started to move the ball. Got down to the 30 and had the interception to Ian Thomas. It was just not a good day. I think that's more offensively, kind of the whole group. I think when you lose two linemen like that its obviously not going to be perfect. [Matt] Paradis has played a lot of football for us. The running game never quite really got going. But as we talked about, you need to convert some third downs, have some explosive plays, get people to have to play run and pass and then have a chance. We had the ball down to the 26-yard line. The defense did a great job. Stephon [Gilmore] picks the ball off. Christian [McCaffrey] had a good run. We have a chance to go score and we decide, it's not a mistake, we decide to get - we kind of get separated and then we take a swing at a guy or whatever it was. This team has to grow up. You can't do those kinds of things. Especially against a team like this. This is a good team. I say that respectively towards our guys. We have a bunch of great guys. But what one guy does, affects everyone and so if it's a penalty, an interception or a miss assignment on defense, when you face good teams and this was a really good team we faced. When you face good teams, this kind of things happen.

RE: Play where Brian Burns was injured

Just when I looked at the replay, I just thought maybe that a foul should have been called. I don't want to call out any other players or anything like that. I'm always going to protect our guys and it looked like it was an injury that happened after the play. So, I was just kind of defending Brian.

RE: Is a player allowed to hold a player's leg to prevent them from going after the ball?

If the guy is on the ground, you can grab the. You can hold them. You can pull them away from the ball. I have to go back and watch the tape to comment on it.

RE: One touchdown in three games – what has to change?

All of it. We have to score. We have to score in the red zone. We have to convert third downs. We have to be able to throw the ball better. We improved the running game I feel like. But the passing game is really not very much there. It's all going to get better. We didn't play great defense today but we played good enough to have a chance. Kind of like the Minnesota game. It just has to be better.

RE: Injury update on Matt Paradis

He is getting an MRI right now. At least it looked like it was somewhat serious on the field so we will have to wait and see. I don't know the extend of Cam's [Erving] yet.

RE: Injury update on Brian Burns

I'm not sure yet on him. He was getting in the x-ray room.


RE: How it felt back to be back on the field

I felt good. Body felt good.

RE: Any restrictions he had for his first game back

No. It's just whenever they called my name, it's my job to be ready.

RE: What he sees with the offense

We'll have to look at the tape. I think it's important for every one of us to point the thumb. In this league, it's really easy to blame and point the finger but that just doesn't get you anywhere. I got to do a better job and I think everybody just has to do a better job. It sounds cliché but it's really that simple.

RE: When in the week he felt ready to get back in the game

I practiced all week and felt good so usually if I feel good in practice, I know that I'm ready to go.

RE: The offensive struggles

I think a lot of it is execution. We can't beat ourselves and when you have adversity happen throughout the game, you can't blink. It's got to be just being a little more poised and a little more efficient. We can't beat ourselves.

RE: The day overall

Any time you lose, it's frustrating. At the end of the day, it's the NFL and we're 4 and 5 with a lot of football ahead of us with a lot of good teams. It's a week-to-week league. You have to win every week and you have to have a short memory. The teams that get emotional and that start to hear the stuff from outside, it doesn't matter. You can start to crumble if you do that. We've got a mature team. We've got guys that are going to practice hard, prepare hard and we're on to next week now.


RE: How would you assess what went wrong for you today?

I think, just poor decision making. I think on those three plays, specifically. I think on the naked [when I] threw the pick-six, you know on that, I think it's a matter of being sure and if I do feel like [Matthew] Judon was coming at me to really just put it on Ian [Thomas], I mean the way that I kind of threw it and just tried to flick it out to him, I can't live with that. I can't live with turning the ball over like that. The one in the end zone, I think the second one, first of all, was a really good play by Jaime Collins. For him to be able to go up and make that play, that was a good play. And then the third one, again, just trying to put the ball in a place where DJ [Moore] can make a play, and I didn't; threw it behind him.

RE: Do you think those interceptions were the result of you being turned the wrong way and not getting your feet set on those throws?

They are throws that I can make but definitely would have liked to get my feet set.

RE: What did Robby Anderson say to you?

Robby is a competitor just like all of us. I am fully aware that I didn't play my best football today. Obviously, you want your teammates to be able to say, "Hey, let's go. We have a lot of game left, let's tighten up, let's put some points on the board." I mean it's nothing more than that, me and Robby [Anderson] are cool, so I'm not worried about that.

RE: How would you assess your readiness to play this week?

I was ready. I mean the coaches had me ready to play. Again, it's just, going out there and making those decisions that I made. On the picks that's something I cant do, no matter how many reps I get during the week.

RE: Do you feel like there's anything you didn't get this week that might have hampered you today or no?


RE: Are you concerned that Coach Rhule might go into a different direction at quarterback moving forward with the amount of picks?

I mean I can't turn the ball over. That's one thing that any coach would tell you. I have to stop turning the ball over. As far as I know I am the starting quarterback, so I am going to continue to play and continue to give it my all for this team.

RE: Why do you think you are still the best option going forward at quarterback?

I mean, I am not going to sit here and tell you guys why I should be the quarterback. I believe in myself and that's all that matters.

RE: What is it about the matchup against the Patriots and how Bill [Belichick] defends you?

I think just playing man coverage and then trying to create picks and create confusion up front. I think that's the biggest thing that they do and they do a really good job of it. Again, I think it just comes down to my decision making. We had guys in the place that we wanted, just couldn't get them the ball and turned it over few too many times.

RE: Can you take us through your decision making and how you can improve that?

I think it's just there have been times in the season where I got flushed out of the pocket, felt like nothing was there and I was able to throw it away. I think the pick-six that I threw, I think the decision was okay, getting back down to Ian, it was just the ball. So that was really it.

RE: How is the locker room's confidence in you?

Guys tell me that they trust me, I think that's something you have to ask them though.

RE: A couple of weeks ago when you were benched, was that the first time you have ever been pulled from a game at any level?


RE: Were you appreciative of not being pulled today, despite your struggles?

I don't know, I wasn't really focused on that. I think I was more focused on trying to finish the game and trying to get our team to go down there and score points.

RE: Do you see what is being said about you as you go through these struggles?

I don't. You know, I do a pretty good job of staying off of social media and not watching any of those opinion shows. I don't really watch any of that stuff, I don't really pay attention to it at all. All I really talk to are my teammates, coaches, friends, family outside the building.

RE: What were some of the messages that Coach Rhule had for you over on the sideline, if any?

It was just, continue to play football. I know that I shouldn't be turning the ball over the way that I am. That's just kind of the end of it. I think Coach Rhule knows that.

RE: Why do you think you are sometimes having issues with making the right decisions?

I think it's something that we have to go back and look at the tape. I think just with some teams playing man coverage and then disguising, getting out in the zones, I think its me being patient and understanding that sometimes it's better to just check the ball down instead of forcing it.

RE: What percentage of the practice reps did you get Thursday and Saturday?

I don't know about percentages. I got most of them. 

RE: You said you thought that you were ready but you don't think the limited role at practice played into it?


RE: Did your shoulder play any part?


RE: What is wrong with your shoulder?

Yeah, I am not going to go into details about the injury. It was from the hit that I suffered in Atlanta, but that is all I am going to say.

RE: Is it related to your shoulder from last year at all?


RE: When did you start feeling good from the concussion protocol?

Yeah, I felt good on Monday. I didn't really have any symptoms on Monday, didn't have any symptoms on Monday. That was a really good sign that the doctors said but yeah, just continued and progressed throughout the week.

RE: How destructive was the loss of Matt [Paradis] and Cam [Erving] and the chemistry of the offensive line?

Obviously it is tough, first of all just losing guys like that talented, smart players up front but again its just kind of the next man up mentality that we have to have and unfortunately in this game, things like that are going to happen. Our guys are ready and I thought for the most part the guys came in and did a good job of spelling them out.

RE: Do you feel it's a disruption of timing when you lose those keys guys?

Any time anyone goes down, it can be tough. But again, I thought they did a really job coming in.

RE: How can you eliminate the mistakes?

I think it's just, again, learning from it, continuing to take care of the football. It's really that simple. I think for me its understanding like if its not there, throw it away and then if I am outside of the pocket just making smart decisions that way.


RE: The play with Brian Burns and Mac Jones, did you think that was a dirty play on Mac's part? It looks like he might have twisted Brian's ankle.

I definitely thought it was a dirty play. I actually saw and witnessed the play while it was happening as I was running, I saw him over there. At first it looked like he was trying to trip or kick Burns and then the next thing you know I noticed I saw him tugging on Burns ankle. I thought it was completely dirty. Hopefully it's something that the league addresses.

Re: Did it surprise you that a quarterback would do that?

I think it was surprising to not see that a penalty was called. It seems like they are always protecting the offensive players, where's the protection for the defensive players as well? I don't know. I felt like that was a call that shouldn't be missed. I'm going to speak out on it. Whatever the consequences, however the referees feel that's how they feel. But it looked completely intentional from where I was standing and I was pretty close. I don't think that was a call that should've been missed.

Re: Have you had a chance to speak with Brian Burns and how is he?

I did. He's good. He's fine. He'll be alright.

Re: The Patriots ability to convert on third down

I couldn't even tell you. When games happen like this it's the same thing that I always say, gotta go watch the tape and see. I honestly have no answer. I don't know and won't know until I watch the tape. That's about it for that.

Re: How difficult it is to see the offense struggling?

Respectfully, I just ask that anybody that has questions about the offense for me please don't ask me those. I don't play the offensive side of the ball. I try to make that clear every time I come in here and y'all ask me about the offense. I don't play the offensive side of the ball. I don't know what's going on on that side of the ball. I don't coach it. I don't play it, so respectfully please do not ask me any questions about what happens on the offensive side of the ball.


RE: On the offensive struggles

We just didn't put up points and we beat ourselves. I think that's the best way to summarize it.

RE: On finding an offensive identity following the loss

We have to get back to what works and don't beat ourselves. I think that's the simplest thing to do. I think when we don't beat ourselves it makes things a lot easier for us.

RE: Following up on not beating ourselves

Penalties, turnovers, giving the ball away, giving them extra opportunities, and not capitalizing on our opportunities.

RE: On channeling emotions on the sideline

That's what comes with it. I know that they are most likely going to catch that so it's not anything I'm hiding from them or nothing like that. I'm very passionate. This game means the world to me and I put my all in it just like everybody in this locker room does. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I know this game isn't going to last forever, so when things don't go in the right direction it hurts because you only get to live this dream one time.

RE: On the frustration after the third interception

Just us not giving ourselves a chance to win and trying to make a comeback.

RE: On connection with Sam Darnold

I just think collectively, we're just not connecting.


RE: How it felt to play against his old team in his new home stadium:

It felt good you know just to play in the home stadium. Another opportunity for me to go out and play so it felt good to get out there again. My family was here. And you want to make plays for your team to help them win. So, I was able to do that on that play. But at the end of the day we didn't come out with a win and that is most important. 

RE: How many tickets he had to give away today:

I don't know how many, but it was a lot [50?] No, not that much. You know our whole family was here so it is good to have family support. 

RE: What he saw on the interception:

I was going against Jakobi [Meyers] and I know how he releases off the ball. So, I gave him room and beat him to the spot. You know he kind of ran into his own player, but I was going to beat him there anyway. So just film study and knowing who I am going against. 

RE: Emotions going against former team:

It was no emotions. You know it is just a business. Obviously, I have a lot of relationships over there with my teammates and coaches, but it is part of it. We have those relationships forever. It was just another game for me. I studied and played how I wanted to play and went to from there.

RE: Did he talk to Bill Belichick:

I didn't talk to him after. I didn't see him. But I talked to my old teammates. Like I said we have a relationship beyond football. 

RE: What he said to Robert Kraft before the game:

RKK has always been good to me and you know gave me a great opportunity as a younger player. Always appreciate him. We will always have a relationship also. 

RE: Did they play like he expected them to:

They did mostly the same thing that we thought. We just have to tighten some things up. I have got to watch the film and try to get better from there.

RE: If it was disappointing to see the game be so one-sided:

It is always disappointing when you don't win. No matter how it happened we lost. Just have to figure out a way to come out with a win. 

RE: Why he thought the Patriots were able to have success on the ground:

I have to watch the film. I am just out there playing so I can't really answer that until I see the film.

View photos from Bank of America Stadium as the Panthers take on the Patriots in Week 9.

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