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What Matt Rhule Said Following the Loss to Washington

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule met with the media following Sunday's game.

RE: Opening Statement

Credit to Washington. Credit to Coach Rivera. They came in here and played an excellent game. Played very much the way that they played last week against
Tampa Bay. They were able to run the football. They had 190 yards rushing. When that happens typically we haven’t played really well. They were excellent on third down, converting 46%, really 50% of their third downs. Offensively, I thought we had some good moments. But it was really a tale of penalties and our 3rd down conversions not really being what it needs to be. Obviously, a disappointing loss for us versus a quality team. I thought Terry McLaurin for them was excellent. I thought
[Taylor] Heinicke was excellent. A lot of credit to them. With that, I’ll see what questions you have.

RE: Thought process on 4th down late in 4th quarter

Analytically, you should punt that ball. You still have three timeouts. Started to go punt the ball and then just because Cam [Newton] doesn’t truly know the two-
minute as well as maybe you would like. I said hey, I have Christian McCaffrey. They
haven’t stopped him all day. Let’s take a shot at it. Still knew I had the two-minute
warning and knew kind of like how it played out in the end where you get the ball back with a minute and a half if we needed to go down and score a touchdown. First
started going with probably what is traditionally football-wise what you should do then just said, hey, let's give these guys a shot to go make a play. I thought they would make the play. We made it. We just came up half of a yard short.

RE: Defense today

Just didn’t stop the run. Didn’t get off the field on third down. Didn’t seem like we had great, great communication at times. Too many mistakes. Held them to 3 of 6
in the red zone but 2-minute defense at the end of the half let them go down and
the score was really disappointing when we had the lead at the time. Just certainly not our best day defensively. 

RE: Common threads in the run defense from previous games

No, just when we are not disciplined when we are not in our gap when we are not
(inaudible) the line of scrimmage when we are not tackling now. We were very clear coming into the game that we knew they were going to run the football. They are one of the better teams on third down. They were going to run the football and try to be in third and manageable, convert third downs. We couldn’t get off the field on third down. Had a hard time winning versus man. Then just couldn’t stop the run.

RE: PJ Walker and Cam Newton

We planned on playing PJ going in but it seemed like Cam was in control. It seemed like he was moving the football. I think the coaches just decided, hey, he’s hot. We only had one drive in the third quarter I believe. They did a nice job. They had such long drives that part of it just didn't go the way we wanted it to in terms of getting off the field on defense. But, we thought Cam was playing well so we kept him in

RE: Common denominators on penalties

The holding calls obviously. The second to last drive, when you asked me about with
4-minutes left. We start off 2nd and 2 and we are up and running and we have a
holding call by Taylor Moton on the right side. Just too many penalties. The late hit on the quarterback for us. I couldn’t say there is any one common thread. I mean, a
lot of those happened up front on the offensive line today it felt like. It’s just hard to
execute on offensive when you get a good play and you think you are 2nd and 2 and you are actually 1st and 20. Just not really good right now.

RE: 4th down play on the final possession

That was an out route to DJ [Moore] just hoping he wins. If not, you have Robby
[Anderson] running the shallow. Or to Christian [McCaffrey], DJ, Robby – so it's really an opportunity to progress through and go through everything. It looked like Cam
[Newton] saw a window to take off and the guy fell off the block and made the tackle.
Really on third down, we had that little option route to Christian that he elected to throw the ball to. A little stroke, we almost had it. Those are those moments we just need someone to step up and make a play. Those same moments for them – we had them 3rd and 25 and they made some plays. Credit to them. They made plays today. You can only talk so much. At some point, you have to go out and make those
plays. I think all of our guys understand that. We had a chance to make some. We just have to make them.

RE: If he could see if DJ Moore had a step on his defender on the Panthers
final play

I couldn’t see that. No, he is on the far side of the field.

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RE: Cam Newton handling what you gave him this week

I thought Cam was excellent. He managed everything. Maybe one communication error in the first half. He got through the progressions. The throw he made to
Christian was elite I thought. For where we are, for being a week into it, I thought he
did a nice job. 

RE: Did you consider putting PJ Walker in?

We talked about it. But it felt like Cam had brought us that far, just let him go. When
I say grasps, he just doesn’t have a lot of experience in it, right. So the thought of having the ball with four minutes left, made me decide to go for it.

RE: Consideration to use Stephon Gilmore more
We are trying to work towards that. I don’t know if we are there yet but we are
trying to work towards that.

RE: Is it because of coming back to play?
Just returning to play, yeah.

RE: Disappointment in not winning at home

Very disappointing. The team we have been the last two times on the road has been
awesome. At home – we are just not playing well. It’s obviously, just me personally,
I go on the road, I play in front of strangers. We come back here family, friends, my daughters are at the game, my son is on the sidelines, I want to win. I know our players want to win. Washington wanted to win too. So you have to play well. It’s all
about execution. All this talk about all this other stuff doesn’t matter. Just go on out and execute. I say it and maybe it sounds a little uncool but it is as true as the day
is long. You can be as hyped up and energized and energetic and excited as you want. If you grab somebody and hold them, they throw a flag. We have got to continue to grow as a team, understanding down the stretch in November and
December to win these games, everybody is trying to win these games. We have to play better. We have to play well. Nothing more than that.

RE: First quarter low snap – designed that way or bad snap?

No, it was a bad snap. That’s kind of what I’m talking about. We had a good play we thought we would get a first down on and it was a bad snap. That’s some of the same execution errors that we are kind of talking about.

RE: What contributed to the offense’s lack of explosiveness today?

Penalties and being behind the chains probably. Seven yards per attempt I would probably live with that most times. We just need to run the ball a little bit more. Be on the field a little bit longer. Get people tired. I think then you have the chance to have the catch and runs, the explosive plays. We just shot ourselves in the foot in my opinion too many times. Obviously losing Dennis Daley early on also kind of... I
thought Brady [Christensen] stepped in and did a nice job at left tackle but that was
a disappointment for us as well.

RE: What do you feel you eliminate by Cam Newton only being here a

No limitations from Cam. I thought we called the game. We don’t have those penalties, we don’t have the bad snap, we don’t have some of those plays, I think we are kind of talking about a different game. It’s kind of the way we have been all year. We are just kind of in that stage of growth where we do some good things. We
show we can do them. We are just not consistent with them. It’s pretty consistent with what I’ve said. We know we can win, we just have to win consistently. That’s just a relentless accountability to doing our job at a standard. We just have to continue to grow to get there. Typically, it's been masked a little bit because our defense has played better than they played today. Today, defensively, we,
obviously, couldn’t get off the field.

RE: Crowd at stadium today

I think the crowd was awesome, you know. I thought the crowd was awesome. I
thought the energy in the stadium was awesome. As I’ve said, its our job to play well so the people are energized and enjoy the show. Obviously, it was a good football game but we have to play it better.