HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
RE: Opening Statement
Obviously, disappointed with the result tonight. I think you have to Atlanta and Coach (Raheem) Morris for getting those guys ready to play on a short week and I thought they played really well. As I told our guys, I appreciate our guys' effort. I thought we played hard. I thought there were a lot guys who were thrust into action that stepped up. There were guys that were playing on the punt team that were out there all of a sudden covering. I give them a lot of credit. They went out there, they competed, and I appreciate that effort. But with all that being said, it wasn't good enough to win. All we can do as we move forward now is come back and try to improve. I think we have a good team. We had for the third straight week, the ball with an opportunity at the end to go win the game. But some things have to improve. We will take a couple days this weekend. We will regroup. We will get some guys back. Be a healthier team next week and make a run here in the second half.
I'm only going to talk about the guys on the team and the guys who are out there playing. Not having Rasul [Douglas] obviously is a big thing for us. Donte [Jackson] made that great pick and unfortunately was down after that. I thought after that Stantley [Thomas-Oliver] went out there and competed, did a nice job. Corn [Elder] went from playing nickel to playing safety. Myles [Hartsfield] then had to step in and play some nickel at different times. Troy [Pride Jr.], I have to see the film. We just had too many defensive holding penalties tonight. Too many opportunities where maybe we could have gotten off the field. I think we had one penalty in the first half and ended up with six. Five penalties in the second half. We have to get off the field better. Extended too many drives. We held them to 3 of 9 on third down, at least that is what my sheet says, but extended too many drives with defensive penalties.
RE: Differences between tonight and last game against Atlanta
Offensively, we just had a hard time blocking their front. I felt like Teddy [Bridgewater] was under duress. (We) weren't really able to get our receivers going. We have a great receiving core. Last game, we were able to get them involved earlier. We had some big plays. We were able to get third downs converted. As I look here, we were 2 of 10 on third down. We just can't live like that. Obviously, we scored, we had the big play. But that was the main difference to me. Then defensively last time, I can't really remember what happened. I think offensively Julio [Jones] obviously makes a bit of a difference. We stopped the run better today. They averaged 3.6 yards rushing. It was a drop-back passing game for them and really, at the end of the day, I thought Matt Ryan was the difference. Scrambling around. There were times where I think we had three sacks, all in the first half, and we had a chance to sack him several more times. He ran the one touchdown in from 20 yards out and you know he doesn't do that very often. He converted another on third down so I thought his play was really a difference for them.
RE: Teddy Bridgewater injury and returning to the game
He went inside (the medical tent). He cleared. They came back. I don't know what they did inside. They followed protocol. They said he cleared protocol. He was up. He was trying to get his neck to loosen up and finally, when it did, he went back in the game.
RE: Bridgewater being under pressure
I don't think any of us played really well tonight. I think he had some great moments. You know the flea flicker, the pass he threw was fantastic. But as you said, (he) was kind of under duress. There was a lot of pressure. (He) took a lot of hits but, at the same time, I can't say that any of us played well enough on offense to deserve to win a game.
RE: Atlanta stacking the box on defense and whether injuries on defense have had an impact
We don't ever want to make excuses. That being said, we look forward to getting Yetur [Gross-Matos] back. Donte [Jackson] healthy and Rasul [Douglas] back. There are a lot of guys that are a big part of what we do defensively and offensively that are banged up. It's just the reality of where we are at and what's happened. All those guys played this game last time and we would love to have them. But, the guys that went out there, they are the ones I'm concerned about. We have to play better.
They (Atlanta) were bringing pressure. They were playing some cover two on second down. Even on the four-man rush, there were too many times where he had to flush. Even the last play of the game, I know we had a holding and him having to flush then. You just can't really win when you can't control the line of scrimmage. I don't feel like we controlled the line of scrimmage today.
QB TEDDY BRIDGEWATER
Tough loss. We've just got to find ways to finish these games. That can't be the common thing around here, coming up short. We get this weekend off, we're at the mid-point of the season, I think it's a good time for us to reflect – see some of the things we've done well the first half of the season and see what we need to improve on. A game like today, you know that you're going to get a team's best. They know us well, we knew them well. We just came up short. They played a good game today. Obviously, we like to finish with points but hats off to those guys.
RE: The play where he got hurt
It was just a play where I was stepping up in the pocket. I just knew that someone stuck their leg out from Atlanta and as I was tripped, I was stumbling and I knew at some point guys would be swarming so I just tried to get down and protect myself. I don't really know who hit me, I just know that somebody got ejected. I was in the tent when all that happened so I didn't really get to see. I know we finished with a field goal so I think the guys responded well.
RE: His thoughts on being tripped
The guy stuck his leg out and they threw a flag for that. The guy was just trying to stop me from scrambling but at the same time it was a flag. The hit, I'll probably go back and watch what happened, but I really can't answer that.
RE: How the offensive line played
As the season goes on, teams get more film on you. You play more games and teams come up with different ways to try to get after the quarterback. I think those guys had a good plan and we did a good job for the most part, but those guys made plays too.
RE: The interception at the end of the game
The guy made a play on the ball. He fell off of Curtis [Samuel] and he just ended up right there in the right place at the right time. I wish I could've just thrown the ball to Curtis or something but in live action, the guy just made a play.
RE: What the Falcons did to stop the Panthers on third down
I really have to go back and look at the tape because it could be an execution thing on our behalf as well, but those guys had a good game plan. They knew some of the things that we wanted to do and they had answers for it. You watch the tape and we have to evaluate what those guys did well and what we didn't do so well.
WR Curtis Samuel
RE: Offensive struggles
I mean, we just have to execute. Like I say each and every week, no matter how many touchdowns I score or whatever I do individually, I always feel like I didn't do enough. That [his touchdowns] happened in the first half. We as a unit, me included, we just have to execute better. That's all that comes down to.
RE: If Atlanta was daring the offense to throw the ball early
They came out at the beginning of the game and showed us a little bit more man and then more towards the second half they started disguising it, going in two-high, playing cover two, cover three. They started changing it up a little bit second half, but that doesn't really have anything to do with anything.
RE: Having extra days to rest ahead of next week's game
It's great. Having to play a Sunday game and then quick turnaround, play on Thursday, we need our rest. I am a younger guy, it's not hard for me to really rebound. Everyone has nicks and bruises but especially for the older guys, it's definitely good for them to get their body right. All of us to get mentally right, take some time away and spend time with our family, if anyone has kids, do that. Just to get our minds right, get us excited for the second half of the season.
RE: The late hit penalty on Teddy Bridgewater and how the offensive line reacted
It's a brotherhood over here, everybody has each other's back. Nobody on our o-line is going to allow anyone to take a shot at our quarterback. That's our quarterback and we have to protect him. Teddy is tough, he came back out there on the field. He showed that and finished the game with us.
RE: The team's reaction after Teddy was hit
Oh yeah, everyone felt that. Any time your quarterback goes down like that, nobody is happy. Everybody is trying to get at those guys because we are trying to protect our players, especially our quarterback. He leads our team. We didn't like the hit. All we could do was move forward. P.J. came in the game, moved forward and tried to get things going, tried to score. Like I said, Teddy came back out there and finished the game with us.
S Jeremy Chinn
RE: Why it was hard for the defense to get off the field
We've just got to execute. We actually committed a lot of penalties, so we were hurting ourselves a lot of the time. That's the majority of it for the most part.
RE: The fake punt and if there was a specific look they got
We hit the field and it was actually iced so Coach [Rhule] called it off, but I saw the short edge so I ended up calling it. It was something we talked about all week. We knew they had that short edge so after he iced it, I saw the short edge and I just called it.
RE: If the call was iced after the delay of game penalty
Yeah, that's when he iced it.
RE: What Teddy Bridgewater returning to the game said to the team
That he's tough. It's part of the brand, part of what we stand for here and he exemplified it firsthand.
RE: More penalties in the second half than in the first half
I'm not quite sure why penalties added up in the second half compared to the first half, but it definitely hurt us.
RE: Whether injuries and missing starters are making it harder for the defense to get off the field on third down
No, I can't say that. We've got guys that can play football at all positions. We've just have to not commit penalties, and just lock in and make a stop, that's all it is.
S Tre Boston
RE: In the past two losses there have been silver linings, what vibe is like after this one and if it is disappointment
Yeah, there is disappointment. We know how well we can play, offense and defense. We just didn't get the job done. That was a team who obviously we felt capable of going out there and beating. That's why we are feeling the way we feel.
RE: What it means to be 3-5 when 4-4 was within your grasp
It's a long season. It doesn't matter. We are disappointed in us getting the loss, but we can't hone on that, we can't just let that one get to us next week. So we have to do a good job of going in here, seeing what we did wrong, seeing what we can execute better in and attacking that because we have more games left and we can fight to go, there are options to go 11-and-five. There are more games left and so we won't worry about this one after we watch film.
RE: Where you think you all have struggled most in the past two games
Third down; if I am going to talk from a defensive standpoint, third down. We've got to find a way to get off the field on third down. We had them in manageable range a few times today, whether it was penalties, big plays, guys don't drop in the zones, us hurting ourselves. The biggest thing is when we hurt ourselves, it's the only time people are moving the ball on us. That is what we're noticing in film, it's a guy out of his gap, it's a guy with a penalty, it's a guy out of zone. We're not getting hurt because the guys are so much more special than us, we just have to do a better job at our job, all one 11.
RE: Impressions of the young players in the secondary with Donte Jackson injured and how it all worked
It hasn't been the first game. Obviously, I've had D Jack a few games but it's something I take my pride on, making sure that our young secondary can play at a high pace, at a very talented level. We play some of the best. You've got Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley over there, giving these guys confidence to go out there and play and not give up the big play. The guys gave up plays here and there but none over the top for touchdowns and that's a lot to ask for young guys playing these guys. I like those guys to step up and continue to help us and I've got to do everything I can to get these guys ready because they're able to play.
RE: As a leader of the defense, how he makes sure the team doesn't go through a losing streak like last year
You have to take it a week at a time. You can say 11-and-5 for big picture but we've got to go four-and-five first and that's what it's about. Its about taking it game by game and going back to coach's one percent. We've got to just get one percent better. Again, I just told you all, a lot of what is happening to us isn't the other team, it's us hurting ourselves. Once we eliminate that, I see us being a great team.
View in-game photos from Thursday Night Football as the Panthers take on the Falcons.