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Rivera, Newton Preview Game Against New Orleans Saints

Carolina Panthers Head Coach and Quarterback spoke with members of the New Orleans media on Wednesday



Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera

Conference Call With New Orleans Media

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Were you a little bit surprised like many in general about how Drew Brees opened up the season with some struggles against the Redskins?

"He throws for over 300 yards. I don't know if that's a struggle."

His completion percentage was off?

"I think you have to give credit to the opponents too. It is the first game of the year. They geared some things to try and stop him. Even though he didn't play as well as he typically does, he's still throwing for over 300 yards and doing things that he does. Still, it's a matter of a guy making a play here and making a play there. They have a couple of drops that these guys typically make catches on. I think they're a little rusty. We'll say they worked themselves into game shape and you're talking about probably one of the most prolific offenses in the league."

Will you have Jonathan Stewart back this week?

"Yes, Jonathan practiced today for us, looked good. It's good to have him back and (he's) a big part of what we do."

How frustrating was it to get ten yards rushing with him out?

"Disappointing. We had over 300 yards of total offense. Our quarterback threw for over 300 yards. We just couldn't get our balance back on the offensive side. Probably the biggest thing is that we didn't score when we had opportunities. We got down to the red zone twice and we ended up having to punt. We missed a chance to throw a touchdown pass. We missed a chance to run one in. That's the frustration more than anything else."

How would you compare Robert Griffin III and your quarterback?

"Two different guys physically. They use their guy a little different than we use ours. I think RGIII's a competitor. He did a nice job. He made some plays. You have to give them credit for what they did."

Are they different in terms of that Cam Newton's bigger?

"Yes. Cam outweighs him by probably 50 pounds, four inches."

On film, did you see that the Saints defense was possibly less aggressive than in the past?

"I worked with Steve Spagnuolo in Philadelphia. I saw what he did in New York. I saw what he was trying to do in St. Louis. He's trying to do the same thing in New Orleans. The only thing I can say is that you have to be patient. Everybody wants to jump to conclusions after one game. We've played one game this year and the big thing is the proof's going to be at the end of the year. Four or five years ago when the Giants won their Super Bowl, Steve Spagnuolo's the defensive coordinator. After the third week, everyone wanted him fired and the next thing you know they go to the Super Bowl and (Michael) Strahan says coach Spags is one of the most valuable people on the team. My whole point is if we're going to make judgments after the first game, a lot of crazy things happen."

After one game, was it things with misdirection and play action by your quarterback that proved to be too much of a challenge?

"I don't know if I'm going to say it was a challenge. If you look at our game and what happened to us against Tampa Bay, they did some (different) things with their nickel packages than what we had seen during the preseason. So, it's how you handle, how you cope and how you deal with certain things. Coaches and can make adjustments and players can out and make things happen. It's the first game and it's a new style of offense that New Orleans really hasn't had a chance to see yet. Now they have had a chance. They've had a chance to see what we do. I think the game's really about now, familiarity in terms of what people are doing and what they try to do and as the next couple weeks unfold, your gameplanning will be different, just like the gameplanning this week will be different unless it's for the first game of the season. It's different. I've had this conversation with a couple of our coaches today. It's one game. We have a lot to learn. We have a long ways to go. We have 15 more games to play before the end of the regular season."

Do you expect to see a better defense than you saw on tape?

"I expect to see a Steve Spagnuolo coached defense that's for sure. Knowing the kind of coach he is and the kind of players on that defense, I expect them to play to their abilities."

Cam Newton mentioned how in Carolina's game, he felt everyone on offense came out slow and lethargic. What do you do this week in practice to try to alter that?

I think the big thing is that there are certain things you can and can't control as a coach and one of the things is the attitude and perspective that the players have when they come out on the field getting ready to play. What you have to do is try to instill it. We're going to try to do a couple of things with our guys, get them going, and get them motivated. It's been a strange few weeks for us. I think having a chance to come home to our home stadium (and have an) opportunity to catch our breath a little bit will be good for us."

Is there any must win aspect of this game?

"They're all important. The cliché says they're all important. Anytime you play away, or anytime you play at home, you have to defend home turf and win in your division if you expect to have success. It's important, but no more important than the next game you play. So, (let's keep) our focus and the thing I told the players today is 'let's take care of our business. Let's worry about this one first and then we'll see what happens with the next one, but this is the most important game we'll play all year. It's a must-win, just like every games' a must-win.' What I'm trying to get our guys to understand is that they're all significant. They're all important. So, let's stay focused. Let's just keep going."

We've perceived some tension between some of your players and some of the Saints players the last few years. Do you think there's anything to that or is it circumstantial?

"I think it's circumstantial. Last year, people wanted to talk about what happened to the first game here. I don't think we necessarily talked about it. To me, it's about the now and the moment. It's going to be about what happens on Sunday as it happens and unfolds. Who knows? Who knows how the players are going to react? I don't know if anybody's carrying a grudge. To me it's all about lining up and playing football. I was fortunate. I played for a guy in Mike Ditka that you guys know. He used to say it was all about lining up across from a guy and trying to whip him and you go from that point. If you do it within the framework and confines of the football game, that's great. So to me, it's one play at a time, one game at a time. Let's not go back to what happened in the past and let's not go too far in the future. Let's take care of the now."

It seemed like in the second Saints-Panthers game in 2011 some of your defensive players were annoyed too?

"I can just say we went out and tried to compete against them."

Did your team leave early because of the Democratic National Convention and practice in Florida?

"Yes, that is correct. The plan was for them to use our stadium for the big speech on Thursday and with all the secret service and all the stuff they were doing around here, it would have made it very difficult for us. We had to pack up and we went to Bradenton, Florida and hung out in Sarasota for a week at the IMG facility. We stayed with the folks at the Ritz and tried to set things up the best we could. Everybody's very accommodating. We got a good week's work in. It was a little bit of a struggle going from one place to the other, but it was an opportunity to get away to try to focus on the football game."

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Did you see yourself grinning when you saw what Robert Griffin the III was doing with some zone reads on film?

"No, I was excited to see it. If anything it's going to help me to see what worked and what didn't work. Like I said and I've said it before, I'm a big fan of RGIII. He had an excellent game and did an excellent job of managing the game and taking what the defense gave him, nothing more, nothing less."

After watching that, do you feel you could maybe take a similar tactic?

"We're going to take what the film gives us. Watching that film helps us being that we run a lot of things that they do and how successful they were, things that were and things that weren't."

What do you see in the Saints defense that's different with a new coordinator?

"I can't tell you what I see that's different. But, we're going to make our adjustments and try to do a better job of executing this week and coming out on Sunday and start fast."

Is it a significant difference from what they ran last year?

"Obviously its' different coordinators. His (Steve Spagnuolo) philosophy is different from what the coach last year (Gregg Williams) ran."

What do you feel like after watching Sunday's game against the Buccaneers about what went wrong and what you can improve on?

"I think as an offense we have to come back and start faster. We came out and played lethargic. It was different players at different times including myself that were making mistakes. That can't happen, especially in this league. One play it's this person, the next play it's that person, next play it's me. It can't happen. Everybody has to be on the same page and execute for the common goal. You can't find yourselves in third and long and second and long and expect to be successful, especially in going up against a good team."

Both teams are 0-1. Someone will be 0-2 Sunday. Is this a must win for you guys?

"Every game is a must win, so you take it for what it's worth. We go out in each and every game. We try to win and go out with a gameplan, whether it's this game, the next game or the game after that, every game is a must win for us."

What are your thoughts on the Saints defense in terms of their performance? Are they still trying to get used to things and is that kind of worrisome for you in terms of that the longer they play in that system the more corrections they will make and the tougher they will get?

"That's something that I can't answer, but one thing I do know is that the Saints have a hell of a defense and they're going to be prepared to play, the whole team. With the explosive offense that they have and the defense they have, we know they are going to bring their A game and we have to bring ours."

It seemed like last year Steve Smith had a rivalry with some Saints defenders and a lot of that had to do with the swagger they had with their old defensive coordinator. Do you think it's going to be different this year with the new guy and his approach?

"I guess you'll just have to watch the game and see."

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