CHARLOTTE – Ron Rivera’s teams have always been most successful when they’ve controlled the line of scrimmage – offensively and defensively.
But if you miss blocks and you miss tackles, it’s going to be a long day.
Well, Sunday proved to be a very long day for the Panthers.
Washington limited Carolina to just 65 rushing yards on 20 attempts. Star running back Christian McCaffrey, who came in averaging over 100 rush yards per game, had just 44 yards on 14 carries.
And the Redskins piled up 248 rushing yards on the Panthers’ struggling run defense.
“We’ve got to run the ball better and we’ve got to stop the run better. Adding to stopping the run better, we’ve got to tackle better,” Rivera said Monday. “On three of their big runs, missed tackles. Especially as a defensive coach, you’d like to believe we’d be better tacklers.”
Rivera was then asked about the emotional toll of such a tough defeat -- the fourth loss in a row which dropped Carolina to 5-7.
“Every loss you take personal. I take it personally because I felt like I let a lot of people down,” Rivera said. “Do I sleep well? No, I don’t. Do I think about things? Absolutely. Do I know how I get to work in the morning after a loss? No. All I know is I got in my car and next thing I know I’m at the stadium. Every one of them grinds me. That’s just the way it is because I feel responsible.”
Owner David Tepper was mentioned a couple times during the press conference, and Rivera knows there will continue to be questions asked about the franchise’s future.
“I understand it. All I can do is control what I can,” Rivera said. “We’ll work hard, practice hard and continue to play hard. This football team is a good young football team that’s developing and learning and growing, but that’s no excuse.”
Rivera acknowledged consistency has been hard to come by for Carolina, and the reality is there’s no time for patience at this point in the year.
“Eventually the process has to be over at some point. It’s no longer time for process,” Rivera said. “We’re well into the last phase of the season.”
Rivera addresses scheme change
Here’s how Rivera responded to a question about whether switching to more 3-4 looks has had anything to do with the issues defending the run.
“No, because for the most part we play a tilt,” Rivera said. “When you’re playing a tilt, you’re basically playing the same gaps, it’s just different personnel. That’s the biggest thing between a 3-4 and a 4-3, the personnel. We’ve got guys like Bruce (Irvin) and Mario (Addison) that can play either the end or outside backer position. We feel pretty stout with those guys. The biggest thing you lose is you lose the 3-technique when you don’t have a Kawann Short.”
Sticking with Kyle Allen at QB
Rivera said the Panthers want to continue developing Kyle Allen and the second-year quarterback will continue to be the starter.
“Absolutely. There’s no reason not to,” Rivera said. “I think the young man competes. He’s competitive, he’s got a good handle of what we do, the players have confidence in him, and we’re just going to continue to compete. We believe that we have an opportunity, we’ve got to take advantage of it, go out and play to the best of our ability and see what happens.”
As for Allen handling the pressure and reading the defense, Rivera spoke about the value of experience and the importance of learning from mistakes.
“It’s one of those things, as you learn and become more and more competent and comfortable as a veteran, you’ll understand how to get through that progression quickly,” Rivera said. “Whether it’s looking at it going, ‘OK, even though he’s pressed, that guy looks like he’s going to give ground. Let me work the combination and get to that side faster.’ Again, as he grows as a quarterback, he’ll learn these things. He’s a young guy that does some really good things and gives you an opportunity.
“He’s played well at times, he made some mistakes, and he’s learning from those mistakes. It’s just a matter of him getting to those 5,000 reps. You wish it could happen overnight, but it’s not. He’s a good young quarterback that’s growing and developing.”
View the best behind-the-scenes photos from Carolina's Week 13 home game against Washington.