Here are head coach Ron Rivera’s opening remarks from his Friday afternoon press conference following Carolina’s 20-14 defeat against Tampa Bay:
“The biggest problem as you go back looking at it is really only the one-on-one matchups we had. One of the things that you go back and look at from the beginning of the game to the end, there were several one-on-one circumstances, situations that we have to, we have to be better at. You know, we had some things happen unfortunately, and um, you know, if you don’t do your job, you don’t do things you’re supposed to, that’s what’s gonna happen.”
Rivera later was asked about some of the players involved in those one-on-one situations, namely left tackle Daryl Williams and cornerback Donte Jackson.
Williams was often matched up against outside linebacker Shaqil Barrett, who had three sacks and an additional quarterback hit. That QB hit was a big one in the closing moments, as it prevented Cam Newton from getting the ball to Curtis Samuel, who was open in the end zone for a potential game-winning score.
“It was tough to see him struggle,” Rivera said. “To that, we’ve got to be able to help him a little bit more.”
Rivera was asked why Williams wasn’t given more help in the form of a chip or double-team from a tight end.
“Well, we did. But you can’t always do that,” Rivera said. “Obviously, a couple times we didn’t, (Barrett) was able to make plays.”
As for Jackson, the young corner had couple tough moments against wide receiver Chris Godwin, most noticeably on the 20-yard touchdown catch where he was in coverage.
“Donte is a young guy that has got to continue to work his technique,” Rivera said. “He’s got the skill set to be really, really good in this league. When you watch the things he does and he does them spot on, you see him makes plays. When you don’t, that’s when you get taken advantage. It happens for any young player.
“Have to understand what it takes to play within the confines of the defense.”
Bucs load up to stop CMC
A week after compiling over 200 total yards from scrimmage, running back Christian McCaffrey was held in check by Tampa Bay, as he finished with 37 rushing yards on 16 carries to go along with two catches for 16 yards.
The Bucs clearly were committed to loading the box with extra defenders to limit Carolina’s dynamic weapon.
“Yes, just looking on tape they seemed to be [focusing on McCaffrey]. They played a lot of man coverage in certain situations and had somebody always seemed to be tracking him,” Rivera said. “They do what we call a ‘green dog,’ which is they bring a guy up inside and the idea is that he has him in man coverage but it looks like he’s blitzing, so Christian had to step up a couple times. And that also slows you down a little bit, too.”
With McCaffrey in the Bucs’ crosshairs, Rivera was happy with the way other guys got involved. Tight end Greg Olsen finished with 110 yards and wideouts DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel combined for 180 receiving yards.
But it was the execution in Tampa territory that left a lot to be desired.
“One of the things we have to do is continue to distribute the ball more so they’re not focusing on one guy,” Rivera said. “DJ had a good day, Curtis had a good day, Greg had a good day, but, unfortunately, we got into certain situations where we hurt ourselves. You go back and look at the field goals we kicked, I believe three of them we kicked after a negative play, after a penalty or being pushed back.”
Roller coaster with Ray-Ray
Punt returner Ray-Ray McCloud flirted with disaster on his first two punt returns against the Bucs, muffing them both. Fortunately for him and the Panthers, neither was recovered by Tampa Bay.
Carolina continued to show faith in their first-year returner however, and he rewarded that faith on his third attempt, streaking through the middle of the field for an impressive 39-yard punt return.
“Well, that’s kind of the thing – we know what his abilities are, we know how explosive he can be. I’d much prefer him to catch them clean,” Rivera said. “You want a returner out there that’s going to first and foremost secure the football when he catches it, and that’s the most important thing.
“But, because he has that kind of explosiveness, that kind of ability, you want to keep giving him every opportunity, but you’ve got to do it wisely. You’ve got to make sure it doesn’t cost us. We’ve just got to continue to work, he’s just got to continue to work, and we’ll keep going.”
Take a look at the best pictures from arrivals, pre-game, locker room, in-game and post-game action from Thursday Night Football against Tampa Bay.