On what he hopes to fix in regards to the Panthers' offense: "I'm looking at a lot of tape now, and I did get a chance to see a lot of Carolina games. When you're watching as a fan on TV, I think it'd be hard for me to give that type of opinion. I've watched Carolina beat Minnesota when the offense played awfully well. So there's so many good things that this group has done over an extended period of time. We're just looking to continue to build on the things that this group of players has been able to do. We want to help each player improve, and I would start with there's a really young group of players on the offensive side, particularly at the receiver position. I think when you have that kind of youth, that's where you really can improve. We have a couple guys coming off injuries, those type of things. So those are certainly areas we'll focus on."
On whether he'll continue to use Cam Newton as a runner: "He's incredible as a runner. He's just an amazing player at that position. There's two ways that he ends up carrying the ball, obviously: It's designed runs, and then he's made a lot of plays where he's kept the ball in passing situations or when he drops back to throw it and the opportunity to run opens up. I think that's a real threat to defenses. Defenses, they're really bothered by that. He's always got to have that as part of his game. He's always got to have the threat to run. Depending on who we're playing, how we're playing and things that are going, I think it's always going to be a part of what we do."
On what Newton needs to improve: "That's what I'm doing, I'm watching as much tape as I can right now and really breaking down different things in terms of the different style of offenses. When he's in a quick drop, when he's in a five- or seven-step drop, when's he's in a play-action pass, when he's in movement. I think there's some things that technically we'll work on. When a guy's played as much as Cam, I think one of the things that really helps him improve is getting all the people around him playing at a high level. So I think there's some technique things that we'll zero in on with Cam, and there will be a major emphasis on the details of the route running, the style of routes and do things where we can do as much to help Cam and help him get the ball out quicker. That helps the protection. That helps everybody."
On the idea of getting Newton and the vertical passing game going: "It's something that he does extremely well. Some of it has to do with who you're playing, and some of it is getting receivers that you trust – and obviously this group had some injuries it had to overcome last year. There's a misnomer that people think to throw the ball up the field, you have to hold the ball longer. That's not always the case. If you have the ability to run the ball – which we do and will have – it should create opportunities to get explosive plays in the passing game. That's something we're going to work hard at.
"I like to think we have the ability to be a high-percentage passing team too, and obviously the ultimate is to be successful on third down so you can keep the ball. But I think you have to stretch defenses. You have to have the ability to threaten them deep to make them play the entire field."
On qualities he values in receivers: "I'm watching all the tape – our video people have actually given me a tape of each player and every ball that was thrown to them – so I can zero in and evaluate them the best I can. But as far as personnel stuff, between (general manager) Marty (Hurney) and (head coach) Ron (Rivera), they know these guys, know our needs. If they ask me for input, I certainly will offer it, but from what I've seen this is a talented group of young guys. Unfortunately a couple of them had injuries, and they are young. I've had success with young players, developing them and having success and production."
On criticism of Newton throwing off his back foot: "I don't know who you're talking about in terms of who might be criticizing him because having been in as many NFL organizations I've been in, I've been with some really talented players that are criticized by somebody. I think Cam has great confidence in his arm, and sometimes he holds onto the ball to keep a play alive, and there isn't a lot of room to step up so you have to throw it that way sometimes. When he has an opportunity and it's a clean pocket and all of those things are there, yeah, we're going to work hard like we would with anybody to get his weight transferred and have good form and technique as he's throwing."
On how Christian McCaffrey was used/will be used: "I have every ball thrown to Christian McCaffrey (on tape). He was thrown to 124 times. If you throw 500 passes, that's one out of every four. It's pretty amazing when you think about him not being able to get here until training camp started. He was very productive.
"There are some really good things he did. We're going to build on those things. We've had success with backs like Christian, so we'll look at things we've done in the past and build on the things that he had success with this year."
On if the answer to the power running game is on the roster:"Again, you start getting into personnel discussions, my familiarity with roster – there's talent at the running back position - but in terms of making those evaluations, Marty, the personnel guys and Coach Rivera, those are things they know and a question best for them."
On if the transition from the Mike Shula offense to his offense will be easy:"The great thing about it - and I know people want to label different offenses and defenses with the coordinator or coach's name - it's the Carolina Panthers offense. It's evolved and obviously the history of it, Rob Chudzinski coached for me for three years in San Diego and he brought the system here. The system evolved differently with different personnel, but the terminology is amazingly pretty much the same we had in San Diego and used in Minnesota. There's some tweaks, there's some codenames that are a little different, but when I start looking at them I say they haven't changed a whole lot. From a standpoint for the players, we're building on the things this group has done and done well. For Coach Rivera, that's something that's positive with him – not having to change a lot of verbiage. The formations are 90 percent the same, the motions are the same. The way we call the runs and passes is very much the same. I don't see that as being something that will take very long."
On what made this job appealing: "There's two things. I told people I'm close with and not that close with that the only way I get back into coaching if I chose to would be (because) of the general manager and head coach, people I knew. I obviously know Ron better than anyone else I could've gone with. That was very important. And you want to go with a good team that's not rebuilding. We're still talking about Cam as MVP a few years ago, and there's good football players on this team. There's young players I really think we can develop. That all was very exciting to me."
On how this hire developed between him and Rivera: "I can tell you my part of it. Ron called and said he made a change and wanted to know what my intentions were. I had talked to a couple people about the possibility of getting back into coaching. A couple people I know were involved in being interviewed for head coaching jobs, so I think Ron had a feel I might be interested. I said yeah, I might be interested. We talked and obviously that's the process you go through. I came in, we visited. I visited with Marty and that's the way it turned out."* *
On how he, new quarterbacks coach Scott Turner and Cam Newton will work together: "A lot of times when I was first a coordinator, I was the coordinator and the quarterback coach. That's the way it happened 20 years ago. There were a lot fewer guys on the staff. I spent all my time with the quarterbacks. The way it's evolved, we have the ability to have a quarterback coach. You want to be on the same page and it's very important to me to come in here and have someone I knew and have someone understand what we're doing and exactly how we're going to do it. It worked pretty good with Teddy Bridgewater and (Sam) Bradford in Minnesota. Scott will spend a lot of time with Cam on the individual things – both technique and going through our playbook. I'll spend a lot of time with the guys as a group – the quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and receivers. We'll meet together a lot to make sure everyone is on the same page. When you have a quarterback coach, it frees the coordinator up to get involved in different areas. If I want to go work with the tight ends and backs together on certain schemes or if I want to work with the slot receivers and let Lance (Taylor) work with the receivers, it frees you up to utilize everyone on the staff."
On having unfinished business with how things ended in Minnesota: "Yeah, there is probably a little bit of that. But I don't know that when I left I felt I was through with coaching. It was really opportune that Ron had an interest. Ron and I worked together for four years. We know each other pretty well. I know it's turned around and I'm working for him. We appreciate the same things about style of football. We're both from a little bit different era. It's a little bit old school. He appreciates that about me. Ron being here, the same system being in place, I know a number of guys on the offensive staff – this was an opportunity that was a great fit. As I told Cam, when you do this, you want to have a chance to win a championship. This team was in the Super Bowl a couple years ago. It's a talented football team."
On talking with Newton: "We just were able to have a brief conversation. We weren't able to get into a lot of football with the way the rules are. As he expressed to me, and I feel the same way, there is an excitement and a nervousness. When you have change, everyone gets that nervousness. But sometimes that nervousness is good. It gets your attention. It's not status quo, and you use it as an opportunity to improve."