Rhule: "We Have a Chance of Being a Good Team"
After Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule was disappointed in how many mistakes his team had, which ultimately cost them a shot of upsetting the Bucs.
Nine penalties, four turnovers, and a turnover on downs hurt the Panthers on Sunday and yet still found themselves only trailing by seven with two minutes to go. For a young and inexperienced team to play so sloppy and still have a shot to win against a quality team says a lot about their effort and toughness. The Panthers were trailing 21-0 at the half and it felt like the game was just one more play away from getting out of hand, but hey didn't fold. They battled back, shut the Buccaneer offense out in the 3rd quarter and had a chance to tie the game late in the 4th quarter.
Although disappointed, Rhule seemed optimistic during his postgame press conference.
"I think my philosophy has always been to just tell the truth. Find the good things and go off those. Good or bad things. Emphasized the bad things and then just move on. There will be the good things, also things that need to be fixed and just be honest about those. I think when you have that mindset, you can be consistent throughout. The main disappointment for me here was being an offense who didn’t turn the ball over last week to now turning the ball over four times this week. That’s a sharp, drastic change. Then to have only five penalties last week, two of which were on special teams, and then have so many this week. They were really hurtful penalties on third down. That really makes it hard. The positive message is we made it so hard on ourselves and yet we still had a chance. If we clean all this stuff up, we have a chance of being a good team. That’s a lot of ifs. We have to work at it to get ourselves there."
Cleaning things up may take several weeks or maybe a whole season, especially at some areas such as the offensive line. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had an up and down game as he threw two interceptions and also coughed up a fumble, but also threw for 367 yards. If he is better protected, who knows if two of those three turnovers ever happen. Bridgwater was under duress seemingly all day, but you do have to give credit to the Bucs defense who may have the best front seven in the NFL.
Bridgewater echoed some of the same sentiments that Rhule did about the Panthers' performance.
"Just a week ago, we played a clean game and then this week we came out and we had four turnovers but we were still in position to go down and tie the game. So, like I said last week, if we could just get rid of the “ifs” then we could be a really good football team. Tampa is a good football team, a division opponent, and we shot ourselves and came up short. We’ve just got to get back to work and try to play the game the way we know how to play it."
Football is a game of mistakes and it's hard to play mistake free football for an entire game. With that said, you just simply can't have that many in one game, especially against Tom Brady. If there is one thing we've learned about this young Panthers team in the first two weeks, it's that they have a lot of fight to them. They could have easily tucked their tail between their legs and let Tampa run all over them, but they battled back.
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