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Transcript: Ron Rivera addresses coaching changes

On the coaching changes today: “Well as I said in the statement this is the decision I felt was best for the football team going forward.”

On Eric Washington’s status as defensive coordinator: “Eric and I will collaborate on putting the defense together each week as we prepare everybody to play. We’ll focus in on Cleveland when we get together as a defensive staff and communicate and talk about what we’re going to do going forward.”

On why the moves were necessary: “I just felt it was in the best interest of the football team going forward. We've got four games left and we’re gonna take them one at a time.”

On conversations with Panthers owner David Tepper since the loss at Tampa Bay: “I would just say they’ve been very good.”

On if Tepper gave insight on vision for team: “Mr. Tepper and I talk about a lot of things involving our football team. Most certainly, one of them is about the game we just played. We haven’t had an opportunity to talk about anything else other than that.”

On if Tepper influenced these decisions: “Mr. Tepper didn’t influence this decision. It’s a collaborative effort between (general manager) Marty Hurney, myself and Mr. Tepper. I most certainly keep them informed as to the decisions I make going forward for this football team. The biggest thing is that everything I do for this football team is what I believe is in the best interest of this team. I believe that we do things to try and win and at the end of the day that’s all I did was just try to do what was best for us.”

On how this collaboration will affect duties: “For the most part, Eric will focus in on the front seven and I’ll work with the back seven. Eric’s expertise as a defensive line coach and front seven coach is very well-noted. He’s handled it for seven seasons. My background has always been in the back seven so it’s an opportunity for me to help out and get involved there as well.”

On nature of conversation with Tepper: “My conversation with Mr. Tepper after the game yesterday was about exactly the game. My conversation with him today really was about what I was gonna do, the direction we’re gonna head as a football team.”

On if Hurney and Tepper were on board: “Mr. Tepper and Marty are both aware and they both support the decision I made.”

On if specific errors led to change: “I wouldn’t say there was a final straw. I would just say that it was something from watching and looking, I just think that this puts me in the middle of everything as far as the defense is concerned, working with Eric and continuing to grow this defense as we move forward.”

On how long he’s had input on defense: “I’ve always had input into the calls from the defensive side. I did when (former defensive coordinators) Sean (McDermott) and Steve (Wilks) were here. For the most part, I really got involved yesterday as things unfolded.”

On conversations with Brady Hoke and Jeff Imamura: “It happened today. Those conversations are private. I really thank them for what they’ve done for us. They’re both solid people, good men, worked hard for us.”

On if constant defensive coordinator turnover has caught up to the team: “To a degree. It’s been trying, obviously, when you lose guys that have been in the system for a long time and as we go forward, it’s about learning and growing and getting back to where we’ve been in the past, especially as a defense. In light of the things we’ve done in the last few weeks, defensively, we’ve done some good things. A week ago, we shut down the number one rushing offense. This past week, we played against the number one total offensive team in the league and held them to 315 yards. There are some things that we’re getting better at that we’re doing. We just got to continue to grow.”

On changes making it a steep learning curve: “It’s a steep curve but that’s what we’re paid for. When you make decisions, you make them because you believe that they’re the best for this team going forward.”

On trying to cover problem areas: “Well, what we try to do when you’re coordinating is find the answers and find ways to improve and get better. We’ll continue to look at those things and continue to work on getting better.”

On how Washington will handle Monday’s news: “Eric is a professional. He’s done this for a long time and he’s been very successful. His track record speaks for itself, especially dealing with the front seven, especially dealing with the front four. I have a bit of experience with doing this, with play-calling and with putting defenses together, and I think it’s an opportunity for me to work even closer with him to help him out as we go forward. You’ve all got to remember your first time doing something; you weren’t perfect. Somebody had to help you, and that’s really what I’m here for – to help him as we go forward as a football team.”

On decision in offseason to not look for an outside secondary coach after Curtis Fuller resigned: “If you remember that all came along late spring, so we were in a tough situation and we had to go forward. I thought continuity would be the best thing for us. … We did that when the season first ended and I promoted Curtis. So by then, if you start talking about doing something in June or July, it’s never a good time.”

On promoting Washington in the offseason for stability and continuity: “I would believe so because we do what we do. We’ve been doing it and have had success with it for several seasons, and just going forward trying to create that sense of stability for the players is about as important as it gets. I really appreciate what those guys did for us, and now it’s about improving and getting better.”

On his players’ reaction to the news: “I just told the players. I think they had gotten wind before I could tell them. I’d say their reaction was what it was. They just took it in stride and go forward from there.”

On his play-calling compared Washington's: “I’m not going to go there. I call plays based on the game and the feel of the game.”

On getting back into play-calling Sunday: “It was interesting, trying to stay ahead of the offense and trying to make sure we were putting them in the right position. It’s one thing that I’ve done – I’ve done it twice in my career and have been fortunate enough to have been successful.”

On if his view Sunday helped him spot problems areas: “At the end of the day, when you call plays, in-tune and aware as to what’s going on on the field. I’m fortunate that I’ve got a couple of other coordinators that I just go ahead and turn things over to on the offensive side with Norv (Turner) and on special teams with Chase (Blackburn) and I just try to focus in on what we’re doing on the defensive side. I just think that at this point and time, this is what’s best for us. ... I see what I see as a play-caller and I call plays based on what I think is going to work. That’s what I did.”

On Cam Newton’s throwing shoulder: “We’ll see. We’ll wait until the doctors get a chance to visit with him, and then I’ll talk to (head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion) about him and about the rest of the injuries we have to deal with.”

On whether he decided to get more involved in play-calling prior to Sunday’s kickoff: “I think sometimes it’s a situation that is part of the circumstance. So as we were going through this, I just felt the need to do it.”

On whether Panthers owner David Tepper has put Rivera on notice about his job status: “No, I’m not going to talk about what Mr. Tepper and I talked about and those type of things. Quite honestly, if you know Mr. Tepper, that’s not his style. He’s very upfront, very forward. I’ve been very fortunate to have a good collaboration between him, myself and the general manager.”

On whether he's gotten an insurance that he wouldn’t be fired in-season as he did in 2012: “I shared that with you guys well after the fact. I just think everybody just has to understand that I’m not going to deal in conjecture. What I’m going to deal with is fact, and until I see a comment that has his name attached to it as being quoted, I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to focus in on my job, and my job is to get them ready for Cleveland now.”

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