Head Coach Greg Schiano
(On running back Doug Martin's injury)
"He is just getting treatment."
(On if safety Dashon Goldson's injury)
"[He's] day-to-day, getting treatment."
(On how good Carolina's defense is)
"They're playing very well, their front seven is dominant at times. Both [defensive] ends have four sacks. Two linebackers are really playing lights out, I think they're separated by one tackle. They're playing well."
(On linebacker Lavonte David)
"He's playing at a very high level, very productive. The last game was one of the more productive games we've had around here at linebacker, certainly in my time here."
(On if having the Thursday night game at home is an advantage)
"Conventional wisdom would tell you yes, right? You don't have to travel, you have that time. We did do it once before and we were successful at doing it, but everything's an independent event. You have different guys, different set of circumstances, different teams, but you go through it a second time, hopefully you learned some things the first time."
(On how he feels about the quick turnaround between games)
"I just play [when] they tell us to play. I worry about the players, but I always do. This game is such a physical game, but everybody does it, so it's fair."
(On how difficult it is to prepare for the Thursday game)
"I just think whoever adapts best to it has an advantage, so that's our goal."
(On if the team has been overly reliant on Martin in their running game)
"We're a traditional running team. We're a tailback-oriented running team, so if we're going to run the ball, he's going to run it. We're not doing any shotgun/pistol-run where the quarterback's carrying it. A lot of championship teams, their tailbacks carry the ball so I'm not concerned there. Then the quarterback, he throws it for us so he's going to have to throw. I really liked the mix the last game, you say 40 [carries] is a high number but we had 86 plays. I like when you have 86 plays. You end up with 28 carries, [and] maybe we'd have some more carries. If we were winning the game, we certainly would have, because then you're in four-minute-mode, and you're handing the ball off and you're eating clock. But I think you take your best players and you use them, that's always been our philosophy. I look at offensive football, as far as who gets the ball, it's like a pizza. You sit there and say 'Okay let's divide it, how many slices do you want to cut it into? Who's earned their piece of the pie?' I really believe that. Now when you throw the ball, you don't always – especially with [quarterback] Mike Glennon, I love the way that he reads it out – someone brought up a question yesterday about Mike going to [wide receiver] Vince [Jackson], so many targets to Vince. Mike's answer was exactly [right]: 'I read it out, I read it out and the keys told me to go to Vince.' Now, if the play, the first option is Vince – which, quite frankly if you're not making the first option Vince more than you're not, you're not doing a good job as a coach – if the first option is Vince and he's open then you give it to him. I think that's what Mike does a good job of. You've got to keep just doing that, just reading it out and delivering the ball to whoever the reads tell him to go to. That's when I stand up here and tell you sometimes the defense can take things away – and they can – but as long as you're reading it out, and you do it efficiently, eventually, there should be someone to go to the ball with, if you have enough time to get rid of the football."
(On if he thinks with Martin's injury will cause defenses to 'load the box' and force Tampa Bay to pass more)
"'Load the box' is for the run, it's not for the pass. When you load the box, you're doing it to take away the run and then the quarterback need to be able to beat single coverage. So, when you bring an extra guy in to the box – if you just start on the premise that you just have two safeties covering the field, and then when you load the box, one goes to the middle and one goes down. That's the most common way, and you've got eight guys versus the box or seven guys versus one back-box. When they go single-high [safety], it puts corners one-on-one, in some form or fashion. What the quarterback needs to do, and what you need to be able to do is, when they go single-high, be able to throw the football. Then you throw the football, then they say, after a while, 'let's go back to two-high' and whether its quarters or half or whatever the coverage is. When you're talking about loading the box, that's to stop the run, so with Doug gone, you wonder will they not load the box as much? Do they respect our back-up two running backs and our run game or are they going to lie back more in two safety high and make you beat them with the run? I don't know. You've got a rookie tailback and a rookie quarterback so let them pick. We'll just react to it."
(On how defensive end Da'Quan Bowers is progressing as a pass rusher)
"Well, in fairness to Da'Quan, he was hurt all last week with a toe [injury] so he didn't practice. He played six plays [and] I thought the six plays he came in and played he did a good job. I look forward to him playing more this week. He's feeling better. I actually think Da'Quan has gotten better and better. I know that [from the] outside, looking in [and asking] 'Why isn't he playing more?' I think he's improving, not as fast as everyone would like, but he's improving and he has natural ability. He's going to play more and more as the year goes on, as long as he keeps improving. Not very much unlike what I described on offense where you earn your piece of the pie, it's the same thing on defense, you earn your plays you earn your reps. Da'Quan, I think in what he's doing, and he's getting better. That injury was unfortunate timing because I thought he was ready to take off. He's kind of had that bad luck, or whatever you want to call it. Every time I feel he's ready to take the next step, something happens. Let's hope that that's behind him and now he can [move on] the rest of the year."
(On cornerback Johnthan Banks' performance and if he is targeted as a rookie)
"I think it's a double-whammy, being a rookie and being opposite [cornerback] Darrelle Revis, you're going to get balls thrown your way. He played some really good football, highlighted by that end zone interception, that was one of the plays of the year, I think. Since then, he's had a couple plays against him that would shake a lesser player's confidence. Johnthan is not shaken, Johnthan will come back, he'll play great this week. I really think that he's going to be a really good corner in this league and I think it really helps to have Darrelle here, just even the last game, Darrelle immediately talked to him. And and that's great, that's what you need, the older guys taking care of the younger guys, showing them the way. Johnthan will be fine."
(On the significance of playing in a nationally televised game)
"First and foremost, we desperately need a win, right? That's a good headline, 'Desperately Need a Win.' But I think what's most important – I think the guys recognize that every other NFL player watches this game, at least if they're a football fan they do. The Thursday night game is a part of their week. Coaches, not always because some of them are still working, some of them get their stuff done and get to tune in, others are still working but it's a big part of our league. When you get the chance to be the only show in the league, everybody understands that, sure they do."
(On trying to establish a 'home field advantage')
"[It's] frustrating, because it's not just this year. I didn't think we established it last year either. It's one of the frustrating things, there's a few. Do I believe we're going to? I do. I've seen that stadium be an intense home field advantage and I know we can get it back. Hopefully that starts Thursday night. That's a priority for anybody."
Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan
(On the team's pass rush this season)
"I just want to comment on the other day, the last game, and our guys would tell you it wasn't good enough. We definitely didn't affect the quarterback well enough. I always think about what we could have done from a call standpoint, and you can always pressure more, call more pressure calls, and you try to have a mix in the game and that kind of stuff. There's no doubt our conventional four-man rush wasn't effective enough. Their offensive line did a quality job, their additional blockers from protection, their tight ends and [running] backs did a good job of chipping on their way out, but the bottom line is we didn't affect the guy enough and obviously it was a major factor in the game because of their passing success."
(On how the team can improve its pass rush)
"Two things: One, our individual pass rushers in our four-man rush have to do a better job, they have to be more productive. On my end, strategically call more pressures in run-pass situations on first and second down. It's never the third down, everybody in the whole park knows you've got at least a 50-percent chance of pressuring on third down. It's the first and second down mix that you're looking for and that's what I always beat myself up about is what we could've done to put more five, six-man pressures on those guys in first and second down."
(On the impressive play of linebacker Lavonte David)
"We kind of expect that out of him. He has a huge role for us in every single week; as you know, he's an every-down player. There isn't a personnel group that we play on defense that he isn't starting on and [isn't] an integral part of. We've kind of grown accustomed to it, we don't think of it too much, we kind of expect it. But you're right, if you were stepping back and really looking at it from outside in, he's so productive and does so many things for us that probably you wouldn't be able to appreciate it, from a call standpoint and getting guys lined up and making checks at the line of scrimmage, he's doing that kind of stuff all the time. That, in addition to actually just production, shear tackle production, we've grown to expect it. He had another great game."
(On if breakdowns in the secondary are due to a lack of pressure up front) )
"It's easy to say that in a big general way like, 'Oh, we should be getting more pressure,' and I understand that, you can always use more pressure, but some of the big pass plays that have happened in the last couple weeks have been, I wouldn't call them busts, they're not breakdowns, we're not blowing coverages. The coverages on the back ends aren't necessarily just being played well enough. A lot of it is right at the reception point. Even thinking the other day against the Falcons we had a lot of guys hip-to-hip with a guy but they came down with the ball. They made the catches and those are big 25, 35-yard hits. Like I said, it's very easy from afar just to say, 'Well, you have to create more pressure, you have to get more pass rush,' and our D-line would tell you the same thing, but you have to play better at the reception point too, on the back end. You're not going to get a sack every single play and when the ball is thrown downfield if you're in a position to play it, you have to be in a position to either knock the ball out or come down with it yourself or deny the ball."
(On defending Atlanta wide receiver Harry Douglas throughout the game)
"They do a good job of moving their receivers around. They don't put them all in one spot because if you did then you can plan off of it and rotate your coverage that way or make a man matchup that way. What happens is when you move guys around in different spots on the offense and you're playing, even though you might be playing pattern matching or double coverages on certain receivers, if a certain guy is moving around you may be playing a half to one side and quarters to the other side and he could be on either side. You might go in saying, 'Well, we're going to try to always have two guys to his side or roll up to his side, but when he switches his alignment it may put you on a thinner part of coverage. They did a good job of moving him around and he had some big catches in the second half and then when we kind of felt that it was happening as the game was developing, then we modified our coverages, very little, but enough to where we were making sure that at least we were playing two-deep to his side of the field as well."
(On playing cornerback Darrelle Revis in one-on-one man coverage every play)
"In some of the man-to-man coverages and especially the man pressures, you can do that and we do that. We literally tell Darrelle which guy we want him to cover and no matter where that guy lines up, he's going to go cover him. But when you're playing some of the double coverages or zone coverages, split-safety zone coverages, you're really lining up to formation strengths or weaknesses, the split-end side, the tight end side, the two-receiver side, the one-receiver side, and we're actually trying to use Darrelle and lean the coverage the other way to help the other defenders. And even though he might not be on a particular person, he definitely has the lighter side of coverage. The coverage is tilted away from him, because we know whoever is over there he can handle that guy. Yeah, it's very easy to say, 'Why don't you just put him on the best guy the whole game,' and then we would be playing straight man-to-man coverage the whole game and of course we don't do that, we don't do anything, all the time."
(On preparing for Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and any differences from last year)
"He's definitely better and so is their offense. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now. They're a really good rushing offense and their guys are rolling off the ball and they have a lot of versatility and variety in their running game. Right now they are running the ball on everybody. I think Cam has definitely matured and he's become a much, much better pocket passer. He can still pull it down and he will, but he's really looking to throw it. They've always had a good receiving corps and they still do. I just really think he's really developed as a pure NFL pocket passer. He's playing with a lot of confidence now too."
(On if Carolina is back to playing a physical style of offense)
"They really are. When you watch the film right now, they're a downhill, handoff, play-action [offense] and then obviously in third-down a more conventional shotgun, pocket-passing stuff. They're running the ball on everybody, and they're really impressive looking on film. Like I said, I think Cam has improved dramatically. He looks like a different guy in my opinion."
(On depth at safety due to injuries)
"If those guys all play we'll be fine. I couldn't speak to the injuries – you talked to [Head Coach] Greg [Schiano] about that stuff and really we don't know. A lot of it is day-to-day and all that kind of stuff, but if those guys play, it will be great."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
(On running back Mike James)
"Mike James did a great job stepping in last Sunday, both [in] execution in the run game as well as pass protection. We don't get that long touchdown pass to [wide receiver] Vincent [Jackson] if not for him picking up the corner blitz. He's been able to catch the ball well, very versatile, works extremely hard. We're pleased with where he's at. I think a combination between he and [running back] Brian Leonard is something that, moving forward, if [running back] Doug [Martin] is not available for us, those two guys will have to step up."
(On offensive balance)
"In a perfect world, you'd love to be right around 50-50 in terms of the number of runs, that you're keeping the defense honest with regard to not being able to – they're trying to protect your threats outside, they don't want to give up the big passes – so you're able to establish the run and all the good things that come with that. Unfortunately, there's some times when they're having added defenders down in there. You've got to try to make them pay for it as far as throwing the football. I think situations, sometimes, can dictate if we're able to run the ball, if we're in a situation where the score is still relatively close and we can maintain that balance. That's always going to be good for us, that's always the goal, but I think the situation dictates that, sometimes, you may end up running a little bit more. Sometimes you may end up – this is what's happened recently – we're throwing a little bit more where you get into those end-of-half, end-of-first-half, end-of-the-game situations where we're trying to put some points on the board. That might skew the numbers a little bit. You talked about Mike James earlier and some of the opportunities that he's had, even in the previous game [against Philadelphia] to this most recent one versus Atlanta, where a couple runs were negated with penalties. He's shown the ability to be productive, so, I think – it's been mentioned time and again about complements to Doug and other guys that can carry the load – and I think we're fortunate with [guys] like Mike and Brian that can be guys that can handle the run game responsibilities if Doug's not able to make it there for us."
(On having penalties that set the offense back)
"[It's] very, very frustrating. I think it's really two weeks in a row that you have setbacks that are just tough to overcome and put the offense in situations where you're taking points off the board or you're not able to stay on that schedule to where you have manageable third down. The emphasis, I think, we address is to find out specifically what exactly happened – [If] it's a hold, why did that occur? Why did the false start occur? – whatever the case may be. There's never excuses, but there may be reasons, so we try to find [them] and look at it on the tape and just make an added [effort]. I think there's really no better reinforcement than exactly what you said: you look at the fact that if we don't have some of these issues, we're going to be in such a better position and we'll be able to be more competitive or score more points. That's got to be the motivation. The only way we're going to get ourselves back on track and back in the win column and back playing the type of offense that we want to play around here is to eliminate those things, so it is a major, major emphasis and it's something that we're identifying exactly what happened and why it happened and moving forward trying to reduce those things on a short week."
(On where the responsibility falls for the penalties)
"Everything starts with, "It's on the coaches." I've said it before, I'll say it again: Everything that this group does not accomplish, any shortcomings, I put it right here [on himself] and I'll continue to do that. Obviously, I have not gotten that point across as well as I should. I think that, as competitors – I'm a competitor, the assistant coaches are competitors, the players are competitors and they want to win; no one likes this bad, nasty taste in our mouth with how we're playing and where we're at with our record. You have enough of that and you decide we're going to do something different, with penalties being a part of that, that's something that we've got to reinforce. The group has been solid and there's been no finger-pointing despite the disappointment and frustration. The resolve, hopefully, will be there on Thursday night and, moving forward, we can make those things an issue of the past."
(On what goes into coaching players to avoid penalties)
"I think, when you have a play – any run or pass – there's certainly rules, there are responsibilities, and I think that that's our job, to make sure that gets across. Now, the players certainly have to play, coaches have to coach. I'm just trying to answer the question with regard to accepting responsibility for it. I'm not going to sit there and point finger. Like I said, everything – put it right here [on him]. If it doesn't work out, then I accept it, and we'll keep moving forward. Our job is to make sure guys are aware of it, and if it happens in practice, it's a big deal. If it's something that, in a way of trying to make the correction, you try to do things to try to get the point across that it sticks. It's going to be different forms with different people. There's a different form of motivation [for different players]. Some guys, you're going to really have to get on their behind. Other guys, you pull them aside – part of coaching is, 'You know what, look, we're really, really counting on you. This is vital. I'm talking to you man-to-man here, but we really need this to [be accomplished] to get this done, because that's the only way we're going to get to where we want to go.' So, maybe, to get more specific for how the coaching would come into it, I think there's just a way that, in terms of addressing the problem – the obvious is obvious, no kidding, you can't jump offsides – to maybe emphasize the importance of it. I think, maybe, that personal touch is something, from a coaching standpoint that I think will be important for us moving forward."
(On quarterback Mike Glennon targeting Jackson 22 times in Sunday's game against Atlanta)
"[There's] two ways of looking at that. One, Vincent is a heck of a player. He's playing very well for us, he's making big plays for us, and he's been productive, and I think it'd be foolish of us not to try to get him the football. But the thing that Mike, I think, is doing a great job of is not necessarily locking into, 'Okay, I'm going to get Vincent Jackson the football.' There's a progression, each one of the passes, depending upon what the coverage is, depending upon what type of pressure issues there may or may not be. That's going to dictate where he goes with the football. One of the things that, I think, all of our receivers and tight ends and backs are learning quickly with Mike is there [are] five eligible receivers, potentially, on certain pass plays, and all five of them may get the football. He goes through the progression and, based upon coverage, based upon any type of adjustments, they all have a shot. I think it's a combination of: yes, he's our bell cow – we want to get him the football – but there's also times that, based upon what the coverage showed, that Mike was going where he was supposed to go with the football."
(On if he watched the Monday Night Football game between the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants)
"The team that we have to play on Thursday is so good on defense, and, with the question you guys are asking, you think I've got time to be worried about what's happening in Minnesota or New York [laughs]? I'm not trying to bust your chops, but trust me, I'm sitting here having nightmares of [Carolina defensive ends Greg] Hardy and [Charles] Johnson and [linebacker Luke] Kuechly and [defensive coordinator] Sean McDermott – many some battles with him back when he was in Philly and they were a heck of a coached group – and this isn't coach speak. The numbers don't lie. You've got the stats – these guys are up in every category – so I've been consumed with trying to get this group ready for the Panthers."
(On the Carolina Panthers defense)
"This is a talented group, it's a well-coached group, and the numbers indicate that. They're playing at a high level. All bets are off in terms of how they're going to play, in terms of, 'Let's get after this rookie quarterback, let's get this rookie running back,' any different combinations with the offensive line. I think that there's any number of ways [they can defend us] and we have to prepare for all the contingencies on a short week and yet not get our guys consumed with all the "what-ifs." We have a plan, we've got to get them playing fast and let them go ahead and go out and execute. We're expecting, preparing for the worst case scenario, so preparing for them to have the eighth guy down there [in the box], preparing for it to be a blitz-fest. I know, with them, all of a sudden, with me saying all of this, now the first play might be a three-man rush and a cover-2, so thanks Sean, if you're [listening]. We're planning for any contingency."
(On Glennon's development)
"I think he's, each and every game, showing the poise, the resiliency, some mobility, extending some plays that – again, we're never going to change gears as far as becoming a zone read team – but he does have, I think, a good knack for being able to extend plays. I think there's accuracy in the balls that he throws. We were able to get a few more balls down the field, pushing down the field a little bit, which ended up being a heck of a great play by Vincent with the one-handed grab, which would've been called defensive pass interference, I believe, had he not been able to come down with it, and then drawing the two other DPI's. He's got the arm strength to do that. I just think, going into that environment, against that team, and with the crowd noise, I think, each and every game, he's getting better and better from an operational standpoint, from a decision-making standpoint, accuracy. [I'm] real pleased with where he's at, and it'll be exciting to see him take that next step on Thursday night against a real good defense."
(On James' development)
"I would say just [as] a versatile, all-around, complete back. I think he showed the ability in college that we thought he could run the football, and he's done that, whether it's through preseason, things we've seen in practice, and what we saw on Sunday. [He] catches the ball well. But then to pick up on the protections – and I know that's the one that everyone noticed, which was a great blitz pickup with the corner blitzing, from this last game – but just other things that we've seen him do and just having the awareness. The guy really gets it and is focused on what his responsibilities are. I guess, to answer your question, just a well-roundedness, being a complete back that not just runs the ball but can catch it and gets the job done in pass protection."
DT Gerald McCoy
(On the performance of the pass rush so far this season)
"It needs to be better. We've got to rush better collectively, as a group, as a unit. You see sprinkles here and there, guys getting there [to the quarterback], but as a unit, we need to be better. Me personally, though – me being a leader, one of the leaders of the team, and definitely a leader of the defense – I'm kind of taking it upon myself to get something done. We do have to rush as a unit, and that's all well and good, but there comes a point in time where you're 0-5, 0-6 – somebody's got to do something. I take it upon myself, I've got to make something happen. I'm getting to the quarterback, definitely getting to the quarterback. I've just got to get him on the ground. I'm hitting him, I'm pressuring him, but I've got to get him on the ground. It's good to be able to get to him, but, personally, I just feel that I haven't done good enough with getting him on the ground. I'm hitting him, but I need him to have the ball in his hand when I do it."
(On Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton)
"I think he's the best escape artist we've got in the league, because you can hit him full-force, 315-pound d-linemen – we just watched [Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle] Kevin Williams hit him square in the middle of his stomach and he just bounced off and kept on running. He can escape in so many ways. You've really got to wrap this guy up, because he's a big guy – he's just as big as we are – but twice the athlete. We've got to get our hands on him and make sure we hold on."
(On if he is happy with Thursday night games)
"I am, because I hate waiting a week to play another game. To lose the way we did in Atlanta, or to lose the way we have lost games in the past, it sucks to sit and wait. You're like, "Ugh. Okay, I want to go make up for it tomorrow, but I've got to wait." So, I'm a huge fan of this Thursday [night game]."
(On how Newton has improved)
"He's starting to become an NFL quarterback. He came in the league on fire, but he still had college-style playing. People didn't know how to react to it. Last year, he still was more college-style and people knew how to handle it because they had dealt with it the year before. Now, he's starting to become an NFL quarterback, and that's scary. With as athletic as he is, as strong an arm as he has, he's starting to understand the game more. That's scary to have to deal with that for a long time."