HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
Obviously, very proud of our guys today. I thought it was a great team effort. I couldn't single out any one person. I thought it was a physical game by our guys. I thought a lot of guys really stepped up. I'm really proud. Fantastic effort by the defense. Donte Jackson is someone I have to point out. I didn't think earlier in the week that he would play. He fought back to play. Got banged up in the game, came back. Juston Burris same thing. You can really start to feel Tre Boston's leadership out there, getting guys on the same page. Rasul Douglas followed Hopkins around, played well. Just proud of a lot of guys. Like any team, after four games, we are a little bit banged up, but they found a way to play physical. Offensively, I thought our offensive line was fantastic. Kept Teddy [Bridgewater] clean, found a way to run the football. But really the player for me on the day on offense was Curtis Samuel. Huge, huge, huge drive extending plays that we really needed. I thought Reggie [Bonnafon] and Mike [Davis] did a great job running the ball. I thought Joe [Brady] called a great game. I thought special teams made an impact. We found a way to block a punt early. So a lot of good things were done today. On the negative side, too many penalties, too many lack-of-composure penalties at the end of the game. That's something that I will try to address. I have already addressed it. I'll try to address this week. A good step. We found a way to accomplish our mission and we will get ready for next week.
RE: Joe Brady
I think Joe is a great play caller. I think Teddy [Bridgewater] played really well and played really clean and I think that helps. One of the things that has happen the first couple games, is we went out expecting one defense and then getting another, something different. So, I think our whole staff, when I say Joe, that's really the whole offensive staff, has really tried to hone in on hey, what are really the things we do well and really do them well. I think there was a really good run plan this week. We knew they were going to pressure us. I though Pat Meyer and Marcus Satterfield and those guys did a great job. So, I think all of us are really growing. That's game four, that's really kind of like the end of the preseason, what would have been the end of the preseason. We are getting better. I will say this, kind of unrelated. It was really fun to be out there with fans, I'll tell you that. That was a lot different and a lot more fun. I want to thank the fans because you could definitely hear them. We look forward to the day when everyone is back, but it was fun to have those people out there today.
RE: Accomplishments on defense today
They tackled really well. Not a lot of blown assignments. Kyler [Murray] is an unbelievable player. The big plays that they had were him pulling the ball down and running. I thought we tackled well for the most part and played the perimeter screens really well. We covered. We were able to mix up our coverages and play different things. That to me was a real key. If you give a guy like Kyler Murray one defense, he is going to find the holes in it so being able to mix and match what we were doing was really important.
RE: Impact on team of having fans in the stadium
Completely different vibe. You could hear them, and you could feel the energy. I know the statements, 'only 5,000,' but to me there were 5,000 loud and strong and I thought it was really good. I thought it was really great. Some day when there is eventually 10,000 or 15,000 or eventually 50 or 60,000, whatever we can hold, I think it will be even greater. They were into it. I thought they gave us energy and I thought our players were really into the game back and forth which was great.
RE: First drive, going for it on 4*th* and short
I just had made the decision that we were going to go for it in that scenario, like at 4th and 1, maybe 4th and 2. There were a couple other ones I don't know if went for it again on forth down but normally I go into each deal. Taylor Rajack, who is our director of analytics, is always on the headset with me. He goes over what the sports analytics say and I also go with my gut in terms of hey, I like this, I don't like that. Really on that play, we had some sort of miscommunication with the receiver, not blaming him, just something happened wrong, and so it was just Teddy and Teddy found a way to make it happen. That has been my message from the very beginning with our guys - great players are way more important than great coaches and great players figure it out. I thought that was a great example of Teddy just figuring it out.
RE: Turning the team around after starting 0-2 and losing Christian McCaffrey
I just think it's a mindset. I don't even think of it as turning it around. I just think we played the first game, we walked off and I think I said to you guys, we saw the Raiders play the Saints, they are a good team. We said hey, we are going to have a chance to be a good team. There are some things we have to correct and then we were better the second week though we turned the ball over four times. We said hey, let's get better. I thought the defense has really bought in to playing hard and playing fast. I'm beginning to hear that from people all across the league, like 'hey, I watched your tape, you guys are flying around,' which is a credit to our players. Week three we find a way to get a win and today was a really good win. I just think it's our guys getting better and better and better. My college coach, Coach Paterno, used to say 'you are never as good as you think you are when you win and you are never as bad as you think you are when you lose.' The key is to be a process guy and just try to get better. Not overreact. It's fun and you can be happy when you win but to me the real joys are in the doing. It's in the coaching. It's in the getting better. It's those things. We will find how good we are again next week. We will wake up tomorrow, we will set a mission. We will put this game to bed and get ready for next week. The best way to have a good season is to take it one week at a time which inevitably is one day at a time. There is a lot we have to do better. We will try to do better and if this is the high point of the season, than we won't have a very good season. To add to your question, I will say this – the coaches aren't any different. I just think it's the players getting more and more comfortable with what we do and how we do it and then more and more making it how they do it. That, to me, is the mark of a winner. When you are 0-2, everyone wants to work really hard. But when you win a game, who doesn't get complacent? I thought our team this week worked really hard and I was really pleased to see their mental energy going into this game.
RE: Thoughts on going 7-of-11 on 3*rd* down and 4 of 5 in the red zone today
Fantastic. And really, I would say you would probably say 8-of-8 because the last one we were just kind of not really trying to get the third down. We were just trying to run the ball there. Threw that little naked to Robby [Anderson] there and told him to stay inbounds and kick the field goal. I thought out guys played great situational football. I think it started with our offensive line keeping guys clean. I thought there was some huge, huge catches by Curtis [Samuel], DJ [Moore], Robby [Anderson] and Seth [Roberts]. Ian [Thomas] had some great catches today. I just thought it was a whole, collective team effort.
RE: Team's identity at this point of the season
Just that they are a great group of guys. I mean the thing about pro football is very few teams go 16-0 so really your character is revealed over the course of the season and we have great guys. They work hard, they come to work every day, they do things the right way, they give their all, they give their best effort. Even in the games that we lost, I never questioned anyone's effort. When you have a chance to see them win, when they come in, the joy on their face winning the football game is fantastic. I just think it's a good group. I've been saying for a couple weeks now, I know it's a young team, I know there are some names out here that maybe people don't know, but I hope the people of the Carolinas fall in love with this team and the way that they play. They are a gritty, tough bunch. It's all about the team, the team, the team. It's not about me. It's not about any one player. It's about them. That is what I like. They are in there happy, happy to give, you know Teddy is giving the game ball to the o-line. They do things the right way and that's fun to be around.
RE: Boston's leadership and the importance of the defense encouraging the offense on game day
I think you would want to have a team that you want the offense when the defense gets scored on, you want the offense to match a score with a score. When the offense doesn't score, you want the defense to answer a stop with a stop. You want to play complimentary. Then you want to give start giving each other energy. You never want to feel like one unit, one player is out there and has to do it all by themselves. I tried to talk to all those guys. I think Shaq [Thompson] is an unbelievable leader the last two weeks. I think Tahir [Whitehead], KK [Kawaan Short], Zack [Kerr], so many guys, so many guys. Donte [Jackson] going to the high level. But Tre is really a vocal guy. He has tremendous spirit. I can't remember what I said when they came off the field after that fumble. I think I, I don't even know what I said to be quite honest with you. Knowing me I probably just said, one snap at a time. One play at a time. I think I said they will go tempo right now, be ready. I know that was what Phil [Snow] was saying so I was just echoing it. Tre does a fantastic job. Even going out at the end of the half, at the start of the second half, I didn't really say anything to the team. I said hey, here is the penalty situation we have to get fixed. Tre gathered them all up and said, hey, this is what we have to do in the second half. That' what you want, right. A player led team that has bought into the process that we have established. So the guys are doing the processes so I want them to have fun and make this their team.
QB TEDDY BRIDGEWATER
RE: Opening Statement
It's a great team win. It's a good feeling when you just know that you came together as a team, as a family and put together a complete 60 minutes of football. It's a pretty happy locker room right now. I'm proud of the guys. We all challenged ourselves in different areas. I think we did a good job of just going out and answering the challenge. Each week you learn more and more about this football team and I'm proud to be a part of.
RE: Was time of possession the game plan to keep the Cardinals offense off the field as much as possible?
No, honestly, we wanted to have an aggressive approach, but we just had an opportunity where we just kept drives alive, we were converting on third downs and staying on the field. We ran the ball pretty well. We really didn't come into this game saying, we want to keep the ball away from those guys. We had an aggressive mindset ourselves and we just came away with winning the time of possession battle also.
RE: Carolina's offensive line
I think each week we're learning something new about ourselves and we're finding something different out about ourselves and this week we came into this game, we wanted to be physical, we wanted to be an aggressive team and we did just that. You talk about Chris Reed, Greg Little, those guys stepping in and playing big for us today. Talk about Matt, Big Boosie and T-Mo, those guys, they never get enough credit. So when you can walk away from a game rushing the ball the way we did, coming out the game without giving up any sacks, you're pretty pleased. I take my hat off to those guys. Those guys do nothing but grind. They are the real grinders of this team. When you talk about the way we practice, no one feels sorry for us. We come out on Wednesday, if you're beat up, banged up anywhere, we're out there and we're still being physical, and it transitions throughout the week and it shows on Sundays.
RE: His rushing touchdown since getting injured in 2015
Man, I honestly didn't even think about that. I was just out there trying to play football and, you know, trying to score touchdowns in the red zone. You know walking away from the game, I'm just happy that we were able to execute in the red zone and score a touchdown in that situation. I was just playing football.
RE: His run on the fourth-and-two play and WR Robby Anderson's performance
Robby (Anderson), he's just one of those guys, he comes in, he doesn't say anything, he's all football. He understands that he's here for a reason and he's just been executing at a high level for us. That entire room, those guys just compete each and every day and they understand that each week it could be a different guy. Then when you look at the fourth-and-two, we called a naked, wanted to receiver to be on the slot. It was last minute but this week coach mentioned three letters – F-I-O, figure it out. And that's what we had to do in that situation and we were able to get the first down and stay on the field.
RE: The improvement over two games
Like I've been saying, it's not an excuse or anything, but everything was new here, new coaching staff, a lot of new players. Like I said earlier this week and last week, it was like man, they just told you, 'hey get on the plane and report this day and we're just going to play football.' I think what's happening is we're learning more about each other each week, and each week you go out there to play, each week you go out there to practice, each week you come in here and you compete and different things, you learn more about the guy you're playing with. So for us, the last couple weeks, guys have just been getting to know each other more and more and when you really understand a person and know what they've been through to get here and why they play this game, it makes you want to play for me even more.
RE: Nicknames for the offensive linemen
Big Boosie, that's John Miller. He had that name back in high school. We went to rival high schools, so we know that Central liked to run behind Big Boosie. T-Mo [Taylor Moton], you know, I'll [also] call Mike Davis little T-Mo or Milk Dud, you know his head's bald like a Milk Dud. I really don't have nicknames for everyone yet, but you know guys are all football and each week that we just come to work and each week we get to be around each other, we grow an appreciation for each other, so that's special to see.
WR ROBBY ANDERSON
RE: What made the team successful on third down and in the red zone today
Honestly, I think our O-line. I think pretty much that's it. Teddy was able to sit back there, be comfortable and they did a great job.
RE: Being a veteran on this young team
It's weird because I don't really feel like I'm old, but I have been in the league a nice amount of time, but I just lead by example and do what I learned and just do the things I know work and do things the right way. I know the young guys follow the lead, but it's a good group of guys around here.
RE: Comfort level in this offense
I was pretty comfortable since day one. You know, the work that me and him (Teddy) put in over the offseason, even though there wasn't technically an off season. I definitely feel like every week, things get in a better direction. Just got to keep working, keep our head down. Enjoy this win but stay focused. Take it a day at a time.
RE: Importance of long drives and tiring out defenses
I think that's big. Obviously, time of possession helps you when the team gives their offense less time to make plays, but when you can have a long productive drive – big plays, obviously those are going to come, but long productive drives are crucial.
RE: Communication with QB Teddy Bridgewater off the field
He's like a brother to me so I can talk to him about life. When you come from similar – being from down there, he's from Miami, I'm from Broward, you know seeing a lot of (similar) things growing up. Knowing him as a person and him knowing me as a person, makes you want to go harder for your brother. I know I could pick up the phone and call him about anything at any time of the day. I don't have a doubt in that bond and that loyalty outside off football, so that just makes football that much easier.
RE: If he found purpose in self-reflection this offseason
I think it was very purposeful. It made me really evaluate certain things that might not have 100-percent been as important, but were available. Then on the other side of it, make you realize things that weren't available, how valuable they are. Just really enjoying life and it gave me, not that anything was wrong or bad, but kind of like a personal detox and able to reflect and grow in a lot of ways as a man and also stepping into a new chapter. It was not a new life or anything like that, but I feel like it really helped me as a man and growing in certain ways and just growing all-in-all.
RE: Words exchanged with Cardinals CB Dre Kirkpatrick towards the end of the game
Oh no, I wasn't upset about anything. I think we were winning and we won the game so it's nothing that I'm upset about. I think it probably was an upset on their end, but I'm good.
RE: Ending the game with 99 receiving yards
I found that out at the end, but it's all good though, we won. I'll get it next time hopefully, but I'm just happy that we won and I know that those 99 yards contributed to that win. If I would've got 100 and we lost, it wouldn't have really mattered in my book. That win, that W in my eyes is like 200 yards, so I'm good.
RE: Origins of the "Sun God" nickname
The Jets fans, they started calling me that because I think last year I made a tweet and I think I said, 'I like when the sun stays out later,' something like that. Then it just went viral. I don't know why it was a big deal to them. Ever since then, the Jets fans just always call me the Sun God, but that's what that is. I don't consider myself a god, no disrespect to God or anything like that, but it's just a little joke. I don't know why it was so serious.
RE: Being on pace to have a career-best season
I wake up every day and that's one of the things that I honestly pray for is to make this my best season, not from a personal standpoint, but from a winning standpoint. That's just what I'm grinding for. What I did today, I'm trying to outdo that tomorrow and the next day. Every day I'm just trying to get better. I think the place where I'm at mentally, spiritually, things like that, I'm just thankful for this opportunity from God more than anything and for my health. I think that everything will take care of itself in due time. Just stick to the script.
C MATT PARADIS
RE: The process from joining Carolina in 2019 to today
It's been interesting. Looking back on my career, this is year seven, and my fifth different head coach. Originally, signing here, that wasn't what I was looking for, but Coach Rhule's been awesome and I love the way this team's fighting and coming together and it's been a great experience so far this year. It's still early, we're four games in so a lot to improve and a lot to work on.
RE: What is says that the team has been able to win two games after RB Christian McCaffrey's injury
Losing Christian's a big blow. Everyone knows and can see the talent and what he brings to the team in his play and leadership and attitude, so that's a big blow to us as a team. We can't wait for him to get back. But, when a guy gets hurt, someone's got to step up. We've got to step up as a whole unit and that's something that everyone takes seriously and we can't wait to get him back.
RE: The play of the offensive line
It's the same message, right? Russell's (Okung) down, it's next man up. Greg (Little) comes in, Trent (Scott) comes in and we just do what we have to as an o-line to play together to play on the same page, get the run game rolling. Chris Manhertz had a great day. I haven't watched the tape so we'll see tonight when I watch the film, but it felt good. Felt like we were moving the ball well. We were scoring in the red zone which was a big emphasis from last week. So, feel good about today, but I guarantee there's going to be plenty to improve on once we watch this tape.
RE: The improvement in the red zone and third down today
It's a focus. It's something we addressed all week. We were focusing on it. The right play calls from Coach Brady (offensive coordinator Joe Brady) and then just the execution by the entire offense and the mindset. It's hard to pinpoint it without watching the tape, but it's something we took to heart and it's something you have to continually work on. It's not one week and done. It's not like that problem is just going to be fixed forever. We have to continue to work on that every week and we look forward to that.
RE: His reaction to Bridgewater's 18-yard touchdown run
That was awesome. I think it was unexpected, but it was awesome. He put some good moves out there. It was great.
RE: What it's like being on the field with Bridgewater
It's fun, man. He has such a good balance of keeping us focused in, but seeing the big picture of offense, of playing football and having fun. I think he's a great leader and he's a lot of fun to play with.
RE: What happened to his hand and if he had any issues for the rest of the game because of it
Just dislocated a finger. First one I've ever done, it was pretty weird. That happens pretty commonly on the o-line. Just had to get it put back into place and then tape it properly and then I had to basically just be confident that I could snap the ball because I've got to be able to grip the ball. Once we were confident in that, I was ready to go again.
RE: If it was more difficult to snap the ball
It was something I had to focus a little more on I guess. It kind of is what it is.
RE: Which finger he dislocated
It was my right ring finger.
RE: Being one of a few players on the team who are 30 years old and what how the younger players have looked to him and what he tries to impart to them
I don't want to say that it wasn't what I was looking for, but team's change over time and teams evolve over time. I think it's fun being one of the older guys playing with all these young guys. They keep you young, ya know? I was talking with some of those guys the other day and was like, "well, what were you doing in 2014 or 2015?" They're talking about going to prom and stuff. I'm like, "holy cow." I think it's kind of fun to play with them. They keep you young, keep you fresh and it's fun to play with the young guys.
DE BRIAN BURNS
RE: Why the defense was able to hold Kyler Murray to just 133 yards passing today
We put an emphasis on it in the week, keeping eyes on him, because we know he can make plays with his feet. That was the game plan coming in was just contain him. He had a nice run, but he didn't have a lot of them, so we kind of did our job, we didn't want him to get out and make a lot of plays with his feet.
RE: Yetur Gross-Matos's forced fumble regaining the momentum defensively
That was a big sack and a big play that we needed because they were driving the ball successfully. We really needed that play and that was a big turnover for him. His first sack was a strip sack, at a clutch time. Yeah, that was a big play man, we needed that.
RE: Team's feeling after Christian McCaffrey was injured and they knew he would miss some time
We're all about next man up, so if somebody goes down, we have people that are ready and can play, to pick up that slack. Reggie (Bonnafon) and Mike (Davis) did a great job today, I am really proud of those boys. That's what it's all about, next man up. We'll be glad to have Christian back, he'll be back soon but as long as our guys are ready to play, that's all that matters.
RE: How winning feels and what's working for the team
It's feeling good man, I don't want to lose this feeling. I don't want to go back to losing, that sucks. It's feeling good, so we have to keep this momentum, keep this ball rolling. I feel like everything is coming together; besides the little bonehead penalties, everything is coming together. The offense is playing well, the defense is playing extremely well, in my opinion, and special teams is making plays as well. As long as we can keep this momentum and keep it going, I don't think we can be stopped, I don't think we're scratching the surface yet.
RE: Difference with fans being allowed
It's just energy, ultimately. Just having people cheer for you when you're making plays, it just feels good. It keeps guys hyped up, that's all that I can really think about it. I'm glad that the fans are back, some of them, I'm glad that some of the fans are back. It's a slight difference but I'm just glad they're back, honestly.
RE: If he has seen growth from the young defense in four games
Definitely. I feel like we've got young guys that can really play. As long as our vets are keeping them on the right road, the right path, I feel like they'll be great. Just when the play comes to you, you have to make it. Troy Pride made a great play going down the sideline into the red zone. Yetur (Gross-Matos) made a great play. Derrick Brown had a couple TFLs. As long as they step up to them because when they step onto the field, they aren't rookies anymore. They're just part of the defense and that's how we look at it. We expect them to know what to do. We expect them to make plays regardless of the fact. That rookie stuff is out the window.
RE: Talk outside the building about a rebuilding year and at what point he starts to think "why not us?"
I never even thought about no rebuild, nothing. I mean, I don't really pay attention to a lot of that stuff, but I just know the guys we have in the locker room are special. We are just being so close, I don't know, it's like a different team. I really can't explain it, but everything is just starting to click and we just need to keep this momentum and keep it going. Because I really don't feel like we have scratched the surface yet, to be honest.
RE: Getting a personal foul
Ya'll know, I don't really be with all that extra stuff, but you know emotions get high and things happen on the field. I just have to keep my composure. I don't hold any grudges off the field so whatever happened, it's dead. I'm not worried about it.
RE: Keys to containing Kyler Murray
Just keeping eyes on him. The games we had; they were working. He couldn't really scramble because there was a lot of movement going on in front of him. We had guys spying him. There was really nowhere for him to go except for that one run he had I think for 40 some yards. That was really the only run he could really get because I feel like we were doing our job as far as, like I told you, we put emphasis during the week to keep him contained. That was pretty much it. He just couldn't really go anywhere.
DE YETUR GROSS-MATOS
RE: Big play on the strip sack
We had a starter get a little banged up, he came out for a minute, so just next-man-up mentality. Went out there and got a straight rush, ended up making a play.
RE: Preparing for the game without practicing every day this week
Still mentally preparing like I was going to play in a game, you know, with the film study and getting right with my teammates. And then physically, just trying to do as much as I could to stay ready and get myself ready to come back. Thankfully, a couple days before, I was able to get cleared and all that stuff. I was just happy to be out there and help the team win.
RE: If he can disclose what illness he was dealing with
I'd rather not get into it.
RE: His parents being present at today's game
My parents were there today, and I noticed them, because they make a lot of noise when they are present. That meant a lot to me, my parents never miss any game. So for them missing one was huge, it was huge for me too. I was glad to have the stadium back with fans in it and my family there to support me.
RE: Young defense playing well
I think it's special. I think we have a really good group and a group that is hungry. Everybody is chomping at the bit to get on the field and make a play to help this team. I think we all come together. Even just now, at the end just talking things through and just bounce ideas and stuff off each other. I think it's a group that helps each other get a better every week.
RE: His first career sack
It was awesome. Thankfully Coach Rhule challenged the play because I knew it was a sack. Just celebrating with all my teammates and getting that first one out of the way felt good.
RE: Succesful pass rush on Cardinals QB Kyler Murray
I think it starts with the coaches and the game plan and what they've been preaching that to us all week. And then other than that, they have a good offensive line. But you know, we just go out there and focus on what we have to do and playing Carolina Panthers brand football – being the toughest, most competitive, hardest-working team in the NFL. So just going to work every day with that chip on our shoulder and going out there and handling business.
RE: If he was anxious to get on the field after missing some practices and a game
Yeah, I've never been one to miss practices over my career, or any games or anything like that. So, for me it was different but just trying to find ways to stay mentally in the mix, was a challenge for me. I feel good about what I was able to put on tape. Just being prepared.