Panthers Coach Ron Rivera and QB Cam Newton speak to the New York media.
HC Ron Rivera
Q: How would you assess your team’s performance through the first two games?
A: I think we’ve had our moments. We’ve done a couple of things that gave us an opportunity to win, but the bottom line is that we haven’t won. There’s good and there’s some bad.
Q: What’s the sense of urgency in getting that first win on the board and avoiding a 0-3 start?
A: It’s very urgent. It’s like I told the players. The truth of the matter is that this is the most important game we’ll play because it’s the one we’re about to play. That’s been our mentality and focus for this week and that in a very important football game, you can’t win two until you’ve won one.
Q: What do you see when you look at the Giants’ running game. Do you see a common problem that they’re experiencing? Are they on the verge of a breakout? What do you see?
A: I think they’re on the verge of a breakout. I think they’ve got a solid running attack. They’ve had a very good attack for years. I think the thing that everybody has to look at is that there’s a lot of things that go into having success on the football field. They’ve been in some tough situations, they’ve played two very good football teams to begin with. They’ve been in battles all the way up. I think the big thing is that they’ve had some unfortunate things. Wilson’s dropped the ball a couple of times and he’s a solid football player. He’s explosive and he can make plays. Eli’s done a heck of a job, but he’s had couple of tough things happen because again, they had to throw the ball more down the stretch than I think they really wanted to. This is a solid football team that you’ve got to be ready to handle.
Q: What about their offensive line? This is going to be the second week in a row they’re going into the game with the same offensive lineup. How much does the shuffling around have an effect on the team?
A: I think it does have an effect. This team, for so many years, has had such a solid offensive line and now they’ve got a couple of young guys they’ve got to work together with and get them used to being on the field together. I think communication and familiarity are very important. We’ve been fortunate to have the same line for 2 weeks in a row as well. It’s a good thing because you also get that continuity, that communication stuff down, and that’s important. I know for them it’s even more important because you have a veteran quarterback to handle so many things at the line of scrimmage. It’s important they get that going for them and we know that.
Q: Can you discuss Cam Newton’s progress?
A: I think Cam has done a great job. I think he’s maturing, he’s understanding, he’s getting a feel for things of how things need to be done. I like his approach in terms of his mental makeup, which has been outstanding. He gave us an opportunity last week to win. It’s unfortunate we got down in the red zone and came away with field goals, but I think it’s one of the things you saw, the maturity level is the way he handled the two minute drill going into halftime. I thought that was about as well executed as we’ve had here in a while. It was really good to see and I think he’s really coming along. I’m excited about who he’s becoming.
Q: Coach, Jason Pierre-Paul was very critical of himself today. He says that he hasn’t seen his pre-injury self. When you look at him on tape, what do you see?
A: I still see a guy who’s a dynamic football player. You still have to account for where he is. The thing is, I’m not sure if it’s just because of coming off the surgery as much as people know who he is. When you game plan for a player, it’s going to be hard for that guy to make his normal plays, like he has in the past, and that’s what’s happening. People are paying him a lot of respect. For the most part, they’re a veteran defensive group as well. I think Perry does a terrific job with that group of guys, putting them in a position to have success.
Q: In what ways does Cam have to continue to improve?
A: I just think his overall learning and growing. I think it’s about getting an overall feel for what we do and how we do it and continue to learn how to attack the opponent. He’s a young guy who’s done a lot of growing. I’m really excited about who he’s becoming as a football player.
Q: You’re a little banged up in the secondary, do you almost expect them to come after you there?
A: Most certainly. I think that’s a part of who they are. At the same time, I do expect them to try to run the football. That’s who Coach Coughlin is. He’s a tough, physical football coach. He likes the physical game and you have to respect the way he’s done things because he’s won two Super Bowls, so he’s doing something right, that’s for sure.
QB Cam Newton
Q: Just curious what you remember when you think back to last year’s game and what the Giants’ pass rush was able to do to disrupt your offense?
A: They had a strong pass rush and it kind of affected our offense very early. When we looked up, it was a large lead and we had to come from behind. I think this year we have to do a good job of executing early, staying on top of early downs, rather than being in the third and longs. If we’re in the third and manageable, I think we’ll be alright.
Q: How would you assess your team’s performance through the first two games?
A: It’s been alright. Obviously it could be better with our record in place. We’re not going to go out on the negatives. I feel like our team is right on the brink and with a couple more plays in the game, it’s easy for us to be 2-0. For us, it’s very encouraging where we’re at, but at the same time, we have to continue to get better.
Q: You guys are facing another 0-2 team in the Giants. Do you see Sunday as a must-win?
A: Every Sunday is a must-win. For us, it’s just coming out and imposing our will, running the football, throwing the ball, and just staying on top and controlling things that we can control.
Q: The Giants’ pass rush probably isn’t what they want it to be. What are you seeing there?
A: They have a very solid defense. JPP is a dominant player, as well as Tuck, so you can’t go to sleep on those guys. They have a very solid secondary, but for us, it’s still up to us, what we do, what we execute. We’ll determine the outcome of the game.
Q: How important do you think winning the turnover battle is to winning on Sunday?
A: That’s something that affects the game every Sunday. Not only just this Sunday, but in every other game. We always want to win the turnover battle and try to protect the ball on offense as best as we can.
Q: You have a lot of statistical accomplishments for your first two years, but it probably hasn’t been what you want in terms of wins and losses. What has the experience been like to this point? Is it fulfilling or frustrating?
A: It’s still early in the season. For us, we can’t get beside ourselves with our record right now. We still haven’t played any (division) games. We’re right here on the brink and I feel as if just a little bit more focus, another play or two in the game that can go our way, we would easily be 2-0. For us, we’re not going to push the panic button. We’re just going to come out each and every day and each and every practice and focus on the things we can do.
Q: Does that throw you off a little bit? Playing a lot of non-division opponents and not having that familiarity with your opponent?
A: No, sir.
Q: It’s hard not to notice the increasing number of African American quarterbacks in the league today. Do you see that as progress?
A: I won’t call it progress. I tip my hat to each and every quarterback that has the opportunity to play in this league. It’s a small percentage of us in the NFL, let alone in the nation, so whether you’re African-American, Caucasian, Chinese, or what have you, you have something to be proud about.