Carolina coach Ron Rivera spoke to the Atlanta media on Wednesday during a conference call.
Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What happened against Minnesota?
A: “We lost a little bit of a momentum. We gave up a sack for a safety. Unfortunately, we gave up a punt return for a touchdown and made a couple of costly mistakes. You can’t do that if expect to win football games especially against good football team like Minnesota.”
Q: How did the passing game get off track and result in eight sacks?
A: “While, the biggest thing, more than anything else, if you put yourself in position where they can attack what you do, it makes life a little bit easier. Once that got the lead we just didn’t make plays. We allowed them to dictate. That’s on us. The thing that we have to do more so than anything else, we’ve got to continue to make plays and unfortunately, they got us.”
Q: Did the punt return (for a touchdown) change the momentum?
A: “It did. It stymied us and then we missed a field goal. You give up points and then you don’t get any points that’s a tough deal. That’s something that we have to get corrected. We as coaches have to look at it and make sure that we are putting our players in position to have success.”
Q: Were the sacks and hits on Cam physical mistakes or mental mistakes?
A: “Probably the biggest thing is just make plays. Again, like I said, when you’ve got an opportunity to do things you have got to do it. You’ve got to capitalize. When you have good field position, you’ve got to put points on the board. … We had a couple of holding calls that were very costly. We had one that was after a 20-yard run that took us out of the hole. Instead, we stayed in the hole and give up a sack for a safety. The other one, we dumped the ball off to a running back and he turns it into a touchdown. We got called for pushing in the back. We can’t make mistakes like that. Very honestly, we made mistakes that costs us the game.”
Q: What type of impact has Jonathan Stewart’s injury had on the offense?
A: “I don’t think it’s had that much of an impact. We love Jonathan. He’s very good for us and he helps us tremendously, but I think Cameron Artis-Payne, Fozzy Whittaker and Michael Tolbert (Douglasville) have really played well for us.”
Q: What are you seeing on the tape from the Falcons this season?
A: “For the most part, they’ve scored a lot of points and have done some really good things. The thing that you have to be aware of is that they’ve got some playmakers. Julio Jones is as good as they come in this league. He really is. I like their combination of running backs. I think Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are two solid running backs that make plays when they get the ball in their hands. I like who Matt Ryan is and that offensive line is revamped. It’s a solid group. It’s a good football team. Their defense, I like their guys. I think they attack. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for the scheme that they run. I think coach (Quinn) has done a nice job of getting it across to those guys about how to play it.”
Q: How do you prepare your young cornerbacks for a guy like Julio Jones?
A: “I just to tell them to do their job….Play hard and play physical.”
Q: How’s Robert McClain playing for the Panthers?
A: “Robert has been solid. He’s done a great job. He came in last year and helped us out. He played the nickel position for us and then ended up having to be a starting corner for us in the Super Bowl. He’s one of those young men who’s very steady. He’s going to do his job and put himself in position to help the football team. I really like who he is for us.”
Q: How do you prepare for the Falcons’ passing attack?
A: “This is an astounding number to see, eight or nine guys catching the ball. It just shows you that they’ve got a good group of guys that they roll in there…I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for who Matt Ryan is as a quarterback in this league. He’s got one of the really good arms in this league. You watch him make all of the throws.”
Q: It doesn’t look like Thomas Davis is slowing down at linebacker. How’s he playing?
A: “I’m very happy for Thomas. I’m very proud of him. He’s a solid young man, who really seems to be skirting by father time right now. As long as he’s healthy and he feels he can play, I think he’ll play. He’s a heck of a young man. Hopefully, he can play for a few more years and have a good healthy career and when he’s ready to retire, he’ll retire. I’m just glad he’s on our team.”
Q: How’s the chess match between Matt Ryan and Luke Kuechly?
A: “I think it’s a great matchup between Luke and Matt Ryan. We give Luke an opportunity to audible as well. He looks at Matt and sees what Matt is trying to do and we’ll try to match wits and see how it goes.”
Q: Were any of the eight sacks on Cam Newton for not getting rid of the ball?
A: “Yeah, some of it was. But he’s going to have to. But one thing again, Cam is competitive. He wants to complete every pass he throws or tries to throw. He’s just going to have to learn that sometimes you can’t hold it that long. You just have to dump it and we’ll wind it up another time. He wants to win. He wants to make things happen. He’s very competitive.”
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