Coach speak: Panthers Ron Rivera and Seahawks Carroll on Sundays pivotal game

The Seattle Seahawks (5-5) will be in Charlotte Sunday (10 a.m. PT)  to take on the Carolina  Panthers (6-4) in a must-win game for the familiar foes.  It will be the ninth meeting  ( seven regular seasons, two postseasons) since the 2010 season that the two teams have faced off against each. While  Sunday game is a regular season game, calling it a postseason elimination would hardly be an exaggeration.

Both teams are second in their respective divisions with a small to none chance of catching the division leaders in front of them. The New Orleans Saints lead the  NFC South with a 9-1 record and hold a three-game advantage over the Panthers, while the LA Rams lead the NFC West with a 10-1 record and hold a four-game lead over the Seahawks who they have already beaten twice this season.

Here is what the head coaches from both teams had to say about Sundays match up.

Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera

(On if this game against the Seahawks feels like a divisional matchup) “Yup, honestly it does. I think it kind of speaks to a degree, the continuity we both have had on our sides of the coast.”

(On if the Seahawks offense looks different from past years)

“Yes, it does. I think they’re doing some different things with their offense. I think the different use of the different personnel groups (and) which groups they’re favoring, the different plays that they’re running, I think they’re helping the quarterback out a lot more even though he still makes his plays. Dude’s a great player, but it just looks like they’re trying to help him a lot and their commitment to the run has just been tremendous.”

(On what a good run game does for an offense)

“It protects your quarterback, first of all. It takes a lot of the pressure off him to have to make plays all the time. What it also does for you team is that it controls the clock, the pace and tempo of the game, and it keeps your defense fresher. It keeps your defense off the field and it keeps your opponent’s offense off the field as well. There’s a huge positive effect when you’re running the ball successfully and I will say this too, because of their ability if they get behind – with their quarterback’s ability and those receivers and tight ends that they have, the playmakers they have on the offense – they can most certainly come back.”

(On using quarterbacks in the run game)

“You’ve got to pay attention to him. He hands that ball off, you just don’t know if he really truly handed it off, or is he keeping it. Just that hesitation is enough sometimes to create that natural crease for your runner, or if you go crashing down hard and he pulls it like he did in the Rams game, he can make some big plays.”

(On if it’s too early to start thinking about playoff ramifications)

“Well, I’ll tell you this much. If you don’t win, it doesn’t matter what the ramifications are. You’ve got to go out and take care of your business before you can do anything else.”

(On what Norv Turner has brought as offensive coordinator)

“Well, he most certainly is a deep thinker. He’s brought a little different attitude in our approach to our offense. He’s trying to take a lot of the pressure off of the quarterback and the commitment to the young receivers that we have is obvious.”

“Well, he most certainly is a deep thinker. He’s brought a little different attitude in our approach to our offense. He’s trying to take a lot of the pressure off of the quarterback and the commitment to the young receivers that we have is obvious.”

(On the morale of the team)

“I was pleased with the way they came back today during the morning meetings. I thought their attentiveness was very good and hopefully, they heeded me. I told them, ‘hey guys, let’s get past this.’ I told them on Monday, ‘when I see you on Wednesday, I want to make sure we’re focusing in on the Seahawks’ and I really thought they came into meetings and into practice with the right attitude.”

(On Shaq Thompson)

“ Tremendous athleticism. The guy allows us to do some things that you normally wouldn’t do. He’s got such a personal ability in terms of coverage, blitzes and basically playing the run. I mean, the guy is a complete package and we’re real excited to have him on our football team.


(Opening Statement)

“Happy Thanksgiving week, nice to see you guys. Everybody cooking? Big college game this weekend, big college game – (UCLA) Bruins and (USC) Trojans. It was a big matchup last week but this week, Notre Dame and the Trojans -that’s pretty big now. I know, Apple Cup’s coming, it’s a big matchup. What an exciting year it’s been for the Cougs (Washington State Cougars) on the run, it’s really something. I know it’s going to be exciting to see. Also, we have a big game too.

 We’re traveling to Carolina in case you guys weren’t keeping track. It’s a very familiar matchup. Somebody told me we’ve been playing nine years in a row or something like that against these guys, so it’s almost like a division matchup for us – for them too. We’re looking forward to getting revved up and getting it going. It’s an exciting matchup. We know these guys pretty well, they know us pretty well, so it should be a good battle for us.”

(On what Norv Turner has brought to the Carolina Panthers offense)

“Years of experience for sure, Norv has been through it all. He’s a great ball coach. I know he’s having an effect on the quarterback, as he always has. Norv and I go back a million years – just kind old family stuff and all that with his brother and all that, so I’ve been watching his career, he’s been a great ball coach.

He’s been through a ton and done a lot of good stuff. They’re bombing the ball down the field, they’ve got great balance, they’re using everybody, they got a lot of receivers to use, the tight ends are good. He’s got a great toy in Christian McCaffrey that they do all kinds of stuff with. It’s a difficult offense always when Cam (Newton) is back there because he runs the ball so well.”

(On if Norv Turner is using Cam Newton differently than in the past)

“He’s rushed for 350 something yards already, so he’s involved with it as much as ever. I think that you can see that Norv is really watched the stuff they’ve done in the past and picked out the good things that they’ve done and done a nice job of blending it all together.”

(On Christian McCaffrey’s impact on the Panthers offense)

“Yeah, he does everything. He’s caught 60 passes already, so he’s a real focal point in the offense and he’s running the ball with good average and scoring both by the catches and from the ground. That’s a real problem and you just give him another dimension with Cam (Newton), and it just makes it really hard.”

(On K.J. Wright’s injury status)

“He’s still working to get back, still working to get back. We really can’t talk injuries yet today because we don’t need to. But I’ll say with K.J., he’s working his way back.”

(On how J.D. McKissic looked in practice)

“He hadn’t practiced yet, but he was in the walk-thru today and it looks like he’s as quick as ever and jumping back in there – excited to see him.”

(On if there will be a phase for J.D. McKissic to reacclimate due to his extended period time missed)

“Yeah, we’re not quite sure what it is yet, we’re going to kind of play it by ear and see how he does. He’s been working out real hard to get to this point. We’re not going to rush it after all of this time. We want to make sure that he’s well and strong and all that. I know he’s going to look flashy and all, but we got to make sure we make good decision on that. We won’t really know until we go through the week and then we’ll take it one week at a time.”

(On having Mychal Kendricks back with the team)

“It’s great for Mychal in particular, you know, he needs to get going and doing some stuff that’s positive and all of that. He had a really good experience with us before. He loved playing for us, he couldn’t wait to get back – we couldn’t wait to get him back. It’s going to take a couple of weeks to toot him back in. He’s really a well-rounded football player, he can do a lot of stuff. When he gets back and we can suit him in the lineup, it will be fun to have him. I’m glad for him, for his sake, right now.”

(On if time out will benefit K.J. Wright)

We’re going to find out. We’re going to find out, you know, we don’t know.”

(On if he feels as if the Seahawks have an old-style offense compared to teams like the Rams and Chiefs) “No, not really. That’s pretty impressive, jeez.”

(On what stood out in the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs Monday night matchup) “Some really good defensive coordinators on those staffs too, I want you to know that, that were coaching ball last night. The offenses were just crazy – it was crazy. There was some huge defensive plays in that game, but there was so much offense and just so much explosion in all. It was as good a game as I can remember seeing. It reminds you like the old AFL games back in the day, it was just such a shootout. It was amazing.”

(On if he recognizes the differences the rule changes have made to the offense)

“Yeah, I’ve said it before that it certainly has – this was the whole idea. But I don’t think that’s the reason. I think it’s just ball continues to evolve in the throwing game, it continues to evolve, the level of the play of the quarterback position continues to evolve. Even when you look at Drew Brees, he’s maybe having his best year ever, you know, and he’s been playing for forever. I just think this is just a case of evolution as well as some of the stuff.

The most difficult part for the defenses is there’s just no hands – you can’t grab anything at all. That used to be somewhat allowed, but that’s a stricter part of it and you saw a lot of penalties last night just – illegal hand stuff, guys trying to stay with people. So that’s, that’s part of it.”

(On if he’s had to do anything defensively this season to adjust to rule changes)

“No, this season isn’t any different than really the last couple of years. Since the grabbing of the jersey thing became apparent, that’s a big change to me because all you had to see was the grab of the jersey and it’s a penalty, regardless of the impact on the play. That came in a couple of years ago and that has made a bit of a difference.”

(On if he feels like the rule changes implemented by the NFL were meant to increase scoring in the NFL)

“I’ve been in the NFL for a long time, I think it’s been that way for a really long time. It’s trying to make the game as explosive and exciting as possible. Offense really does that for a lot of people. Protecting players too there has been a factor as well. It’s all fine, you know, it’s just the way it is. It’s relative and we’re coached and officiated the same, so it doesn’t matter.”

(On the status of the Seahawks weakside linebacker position)

“Well, we’re gaining experience as we go. Austin (Calitro) has done a nice job when he’s had his chances and he’s still a young player so there’s stuff to learn and all, but he’s done a nice job – particularly just in the physical side of hitting, tackling and all.

We’re gaining some depth, you know. Barkevious (Mingo) has done some nice stuff too, so we can do some things with him there, so we have some flexibility.”

(On if the league has emphasized calling illegal contact on receivers despite where the contact is initiated) “Yeah, in the last couple of years, they have – that’s what I’m telling you. Really, the grab of the jersey I think is the most obvious change because you can see that so clearly – it’s easy for the officials to call. The problem with it as far as the coaches would be concerned is that it doesn’t always affect the play. So, we just have to be really strict with it so all of the other plays when guys aren’t grabbing when they’re used to is factoring in, I think somewhat.”

(On the importance of Bobby Wagner for the Seahawks this season)

“He’s been the centerpiece of all of it on defense for years. That’s a pretty good stat, I don’t know that stat. He’s not just playing, he’s calling everything, he’s given people the adjustments and the confidence to play aggressively and get after it because he knows what he’s doing, and he can help settle situations.

He’s a great communicator with Kenny (Ken Norton Jr.) as well, so that they can really get everything done just like we want to get it done. He’s a fantastic player.”

(On if communication is more important for Bobby Wagner this season)

“Yeah, that’s a good point. When K.J. (Wright) is in there, there’s a different level of communication going on than when the new guys are in there, certainly. That’s just a natural issue that you’ve just got to grow with and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

(On what led to rushing for over 150 yards in seven straight games)

“I think it’s really, it’s about commitment and the commitment to practice it and talk it and then carried out and coach it really well so that we’re able to do that. I mean, everyone wants to run the football but to be that committed to it, I think that’s really what’s made the difference.

The players are obviously suited – the guys up front are suited to run the football like that and the running backs are suited to run football like that and Russell (Wilson) complements that as well. I think everybody’s in on it.”

(On if he minds going away from the norm around the league on offense)

“Yeah. You know, I don’t mind being different at all. I didn’t mind it when we were in college either. We weren’t spreading out and doing all the stuff that other people were doing. We were running a pretty balanced attack back in the day and ran for a lot of yards (with) a lot of big time running backs.

I think it’s a great way to play. When I look at – in college football and to look back, I look at the way that Nick (Saban) is doing his stuff there. They are still a very formidable running attack always, and in that when you’re playing all-spread teams week and week out, it’s a big transition for you and being unique is okay, particularly when you’re being aggressive and tough.”

(On the recent lack of turnovers forced by the defense)

“I’m really disappointed in that. It’s been difficult. It makes it harder to win and harder to get ahead and stay ahead without getting football off of our opponents. It amplifies also our few that we have given up in the same time span, and they’ve been significant because we haven’t counted on the other side. It just kind of comes in numbers sometimes. You hear it get talked about (like) ‘comes in bunches’.

That’s really the truth. It’s always seemed like that, and we had a pretty good roll going there and then it just kind of got quiet. So what I take of it is, it’s something that just needs to draw even more emphasis. We’re trying to make it our number one emphasis. We’re going to continue to amplify and down the stretch here, it’s going to be absolutely crucial.”

(On if this is the best that they have seen from Tyler Lockett) “He’s off to the best start for sure. He’s got more touchdowns than he’s had and if we can just keep pecking away at that, he will put together a fantastic season. But he’s been great. He’s been really consistent. It’s been great to have him in good health and all of that, and at top speed you can see how effective he is. He’s so fast and he utilizes it really well – probably more though.

He’s come through with great catches. He’s made a lot of great catches this year and taking the ball away from guys at times and getting off his feet to make the plays he’s made. I think that seems to have (stood) out more. Why, I don’t know other than he’s just, he’s on it and having a great season.

He’s a fantastic player. He and Russ (Wilson) are really hooked up and in that time when Doug (Baldwin) was not available to us, I think that was a combination that was really necessary to keep us going and they made the most of it.”

(On if he knew that D.J. Fluker was as much of an energy guy as he is now)

No, I didn’t know that as much. That’s one of the surprises to me, that he is as outgoing as he’s been and as impacting as he’s been. I didn’t know that to the extent because he’s really, he’s big time. He’s really a fireball and loves, loves the game so much and doesn’t mind sharing it. It brings other people with them.”

(On when D.J. Fluker’s energy emerged) “I don’t know. It seems like it really kind of came out in camp when we got going. Later than OTA’s.”

(On if Quinton Jefferson played one of his better games against the Packers)

“He did a good job. Yeah, he did a good job. He’s had a good season. He’s been active throughout and he’s been obviously better this year than he’s been in other years and it just looks like the experience is there, his strength and power is the best it’s been and he’s done a nice job. He’s been flexible too, that he can move around and do some different things for us.”

(On the carries being split between running backs)

“Yeah, I think the mix of all three guys is what we’re seeing. Mike (Davis)’s been involved too and I think that it looks fine. It will change week to week some and we’ll see how that goes. Just depends on how things are going.

But yeah, I that Rashaad (Penny) was able to complement and help us out. Too bad that he got nicked a little bit in there and had to come out and get his ankle taped up and all that. He kind of missed a couple opportunities in there just to stay in the rhythm of it. So, it’s good. It’s a good, competitive situation for sure.”

(On Michael Dickson’s numbers being better recently)

“Yeah, I do think that we’ve learned more about him and I think Brian Schneider and Larry Izzo and those guys are working to find the right rhythm for workloads because he’s a total worker. He wants to kick every day and kick a ton every day.

Um, I think they’re learning more about how to rest him and how to keep him strong. That easily could be part of what’s going on, because we were just having to find out early in the year. I’m hoping that we can continue to do a good job of that because he’s really been a factor.”

(On how much of a factor Michael Dickson has been)

“Shoot, he has been huge. This is a big part of how we’re playing the game. We’re counting on that ball being inside or around the 10 yard line when we take over (on defense) a lot of times. Whether he’s got to bomb it to get there or he’s got to kick it high to get it there, he’s got the ability to keep us down there and he’s really been accurate. He’s been a great weapon for us.”

(On if Doug Baldwin is at 100% health at this point)

“He feels great. He really feels great and I talked to him this morning. He really feels the best he’s felt. He really doesn’t have any concerns right now at all so he’s practicing hard and working hard and really energized by that.”

(On if sacking Aaron Rodgers five times could carry over to rushing Cam Newton)

No, they’re different. They’re real different quarterbacks but the way we rushed the passer in the second half in particular, we had a number of sacks in the second half. It was everybody working together with great intensity and feeding off one another. It wasn’t any one guy highlighted against a matchup or something like that.

That was everybody pushing and the sacks were really a combination of guys’ efforts. I’m hoping that that will be a part again because if you noticed, we broke the pocket down and that’s important to do with Cam as well because he can get out and really scorch you too. Aaron’s all by himself in the way he does this stuff and Cam is too, in his own way. They’re really unique players I think. I don’t see them at all the same. However, they do wind up running and they hurt you with their legs. It’s a big challenge for us again.”

(On if Rashaad Penny’s injury bothered him in the remainder of the game) “No, he was okay. Once he got back, he was fine.”

(On the Panthers defense)

“They’re really stout. You guys will recognize the names, all those guys that you’ve been seeing for years. There’s enough of those guys that you can feel their old ways. You can feel their experience. You can feel the playmaking ability. You can’t fool these guys.

They’re really sharp and savvy and Thomas (Davis) is amazing and Luke (Kuechly) is an amazing player and Shaq (Thompson) is – their linebackers just jump out at you but they’re really stout up front. (Mario) Addison’s having a fantastic year, so it’s really hard.”

(On what Mario Addison has done to become a big sack player for the Panthers)

“I just think he’s just grown in experience and he’s on his game better than he’s ever been just because he’s learned. His quickness and his consistency and getting after the QB is really obvious and they have a really good push with the other big guys around him. He’s a nice complement. He’s exactly the kind of production that you’re looking for. He’s rushing kind of like Frank (Clark) and he’s a problem for us.”

(On what he’s thankful for this year)

“I’m thankful for the fun we’re having in this season. To see these guys work so hard and share this experience that they’re having – and it’s been ongoing. I’ve talked about it consistently to you guys since the offseason – when they saw the opportunities and they went for it and the attitude has just been so upbeat and so positive that they’re enjoying it.

It’s not just what you see in a locker room after a win, it’s what these guys do on a daily basis. They’re really good to be around, fun to be around and I’m thankful that they make it fun for me and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. Lucky to be here.”

Leave a Reply