What Matt Rhule Said Following the Carolina Panthers' Loss to Chicago

Schuyler Callihan

The Carolina Panthers fell to the Chicago Bears on Sunday 23-16, which snapped the team's three-game winning streak. Following the game head coach Matt Rhule met with the media to talk about the team's loss and what went wrong.

RE: Opening Statement

"Obviously disappointed in the result today. A lot of credit to Chicago. They made the plays you need to make to win the game. I thought our defense hung in there and battled. I think they had two touchdowns. One off the missed field goal, one off of the interception at the beginning of the half. I thought offensively we are just out of sync, turned the ball over, weren’t protecting the ball. Way too many miscues. Way too many things that hurt us today. So, all that being said, we still had a chance to win the ball game at the end. One throw here, one catch here, one stop, one blocked punt and it might have been a different result. Give credit to Chicago. That’s a good football team. Coach (Matt) Nagy had done a great job. Nick Foles is a winner. They hung in there and they made the plays they had to make."

RE: Teddy Bridgewater’s accuracy at end of the game

"The one to DJ (Moore), I’d have to see it on tape to see what happened, really where it was. But that’s a play that we have to make all around. The last interception, obviously that is unfortunate. Can’t happen. I think from the very beginning, you know, credit to Chicago, we were under duress. Teddy ran the ball more than I’ve seen him run the ball. He was having to extend plays with his feet. Their pressure gave us problems at times and like I said, just could never quite get into sync. I’m looking here that we were 3-of-13 on third down. We had been in the top 5, top 7 in the NFL in third downs so obviously that’s something we’re not used to and it happened today. Credit them, they did a good job. We just weren’t in sync. There were times we were running routes and guys were not where they were supposed to be, running the wrong wrote. So, I just thought it was a global issue today offensively."

RE: If there’s anything he is seeing regarding the red zone issues this season

"No. I hate to say it but I’m seeing us just not get in. I thought we had a great play to Robby [Anderson] for a touchdown. Pressure came off the left edge. He had to throw it to DJ [Moore] instead. Something we have to solve. We did a great job to get them to jump offsides to extend the drive. I thought we were going to punch it in there. You’re not going to win games if you don’t punch drives in the red zone in for touchdowns and they’re always field goals. I see here we were 1-for-3 today in the red zone for touchdowns. You’re just not going to win. Those are things we have to continue to improve upon. I think the thing about us is we see every week, hey, here is something we have to get better at, to improve upon. We saw that. My challenge to the team will be let’s come back, let’s get it figured out. But the red zone is clearly an issue."

RE: What made the Bears offense difficult to stop on third down

"They were in third and manageable. They were in third and three, third and four, third and five. They found guys open in zone. They beat us on a slant and deep in-cut in man. We pressured them and Nick Foles got the ball out. He scrambled. He did what needed to…Like I said, they didn’t have a ton of errors. They had 260 yards of offense. That’s not much in today’s football but they were key yards. They were important yards. They converted when they had to, went 2-for-4 in the red zone in touchdowns. We just have to be better in all those areas."

RE: What he sees is the break down on the offensive line specifically in the end zone

"I think part of it is Khalil Mack. I think they were running some pretty exotic games. There was no quick throw that he could step up into the pocket and find somebody. I thought our vertical pass unit game today was good. We hit a couple of deep balls to Robby (Anderson) and to DJ (Moore). They did a good job of taking away a lot of the other throws and we didn’t make them pay for it. I wouldn’t say it was any one person or any one thing. When it came to protecting, especially on third down, we weren’t as good as we needed to be."

RE: Not going for in on fourth-and-two at the end of the first half

"I knew defensively we were going to hold them pretty well. I forget what the score was at the time. I think it was 10-3 and I thought hey, two downs and we will run it here, we’ll go for it. We thought we had a good play on the pass to Robby (Anderson). Incomplete. I just thought it best to take the points. Had it been fourth and one, I would have gone for it there. Credit to them, they came down and answered in two minute and kicked a field goal as time expired. They negated our field goal. But I think it was 10-3 at the time, I thought the chance to make it 10-6 and the way I looked at it was we were not playing really well in the first half. We were playing tight, like a team was feeling like hey, we have to find a way to win this game as opposed to relaxing and playing. I thought getting some energy going into the locker room would be a good thing. Credit to them, they answered."

RE: Jeremy Chinn’s interception

"It was huge. As I remember that play, we got tremendous pressure on the play. I think he scrambled to his right and threw it up and Jeremy made that play. I look at defense at times in the fourth quarter and I saw Derrick Brown, I saw Chinn, I saw Troy Pride, I saw Sam Franklin, you know an undrafted free agent this year, I saw a bunch of young guys out there playing and I think they hold their own when they go out there. Jeremy’s certainly no exception. A huge play by him and gave us a chance to answer that call after we threw that pick…fumble, excuse me."

RE: If the Bears defensive physicality was a factor in offensive struggles today

"Not the missed assignments and errors. They are a good team, so I always want to give them credit. They brought a lot of pressure that got us out of whack. Their pass rush, they brought some blitzes today, a lot credit to them. That being said, we can never control the opponent, we can control ourselves. We did not, in my opinion, play as well as we wanted to play. I think that’s everybody. The Panthers didn’t play the game they should have played or wanted to play today, specifically in some of those key situations on offense. The Bears are now whatever they are, 5-2 or 4-2, for a reason. They have earned the right to have that. They played well. They made key plays. I thought we played well in a lot of areas. We just didn’t make the key plays you have to make whether it’s the fourth and two, whether it’s the blocked punt, whether it’s the field goal. There are so many of those things that if you make one or two of those, you win the game. My message to the guys is hey we have to play better but you can also see we have a pretty decent team; they play well together. It just wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be today."

RE: Keeping consistency on eliminating turnovers game to game

"We’re the type of team that if we win the turnover battle, we will probably win the game. Its going to be hard to overcome the turnover battle when its 3-1. I think in the NFL when you are minus-2, I think its like 82% that the other team is going to win. I think a lot of that at times has to do with their pressure. When the other team is bringing pressure, the quarterback is under duress then the ball has the tendency to get away. At the same time, there were too many plays like that today. We had one that, obviously, came back. We had the fumble. To me, you just go back and sometimes in life you have to relearn lessons unfortunately. So, we go back and say, hey, let’s get better at this, let’s get better at this. The key for us is to make sure we get better next week, that we improve."

RE: Sam Franklin’s performance

"I didn’t really have a chance to see it while he was out there. I saw him make a physical tackle. I have a lot of confidence in Sam. When he (Juston Burris) goes down, we put him in, and we trust that he is ready to go. I’m sure he played well on tape technically. I’m sure there are things they will coach him on. Other than that, at least out there, he certainly belongs."

RE: What Jeremy Chinn has meant to the defense this season

"I’ll probably limit my comments just to today. I’m probably not in the position mentally to be thinking of the whole year. He is a great member of the team. He works hard. He makes physical plays. His versality – he is a hybrid player that can play on the back end, can play upfront. I’ll have to go back and watch it to see all the things he did right and wrong but obviously that interception was a huge play. He’ll continue to get better and better."

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