Dirk Koetter Praises the Play of Jameis Winston and Jordan Whitehead

Head coach Dirk Koetter spoke to the media the day after the win against the 49ers.

(On wide receiver DeSean Jackson finishing the game with a hurt thumb)

“DeSean’s getting his thumb rechecked. He’s got it rechecked by our local hand guy today and I think he’s going to New York for a second opinion tomorrow. He made one really nice catch – that one right in front of our bench. The thing with DeSean yesterday is we just flat missed him five times. One of those was a tough over the top shot that Jameis [Winston] overthrew, but there [were] four other times that DeSean was open and we just missed him. Jameis, we didn’t miss very many throws yesterday, but the ones we did miss unfortunately were mostly to DeSean.”

(On how offensive lineman Alex Cappa looked in his first game of the season)

“Like a guy getting his first NFL snaps. Effort, fine, toughness, fine, but he’s been doing a good job in practice. Alex has been coming on – there’s no question about that. The first time you’re going against real guys going full speed is just a little bit of an eye opener. We’ll see how it goes going forward, but it was good to get him out there that’s for sure.”

(On having eight offensive linemen active against the 49ers)

“That was an added benefit of that. The main reason that we dressed eight last week is because we were down a tight end with O.J. [Howard] being out and Ryan Jensen didn’t practice much last week with that hamstring injury. If the versatility of Mike Liedtke – combination of that – then Dot’s (Demar Dotson) been a little bit of a walking wounded the last couple of weeks. Leonard [Wester] as your swing tackle, Mike Liedtke and then we kind of wanted to get Alex [Cappa] up, so a combination of all those things.”

(On what allowed quarterback Jameis Winston to be more protective of the football)

“I thought he made really good decisions. He made decisive decisions. He didn’t hold it too long and he didn’t wait for plays to develop that might happen as time went on. He took the sure thing when it was there. Then he also did an excellent job on scramble plays – making decisions outside the pocket – whether to throw or run.”

(On the 49ers game being a sign that Winston can be a great quarterback)

“Yep.”

(On if it’s frustrating that the team didn’t play this way earlier in the season)

“No player’s going out there choosing not to play well – no one chooses that. Jameis made good decisions with the football yesterday – played a clean game. We had a good result. Won the turnover margin – we get two takeaways, we don’t turn it over. That’s a game where we only had six explosives on offense and we’re tied for the lead, I think, in the NFL in explosives and we had maybe our lowest total of the year yesterday. A couple of those we missed to DeSean would’ve upped that. I thought Jameis just did what needed to be done yesterday. He made the plays and then like I said, he made really good decisions in the scramble game.”

(On if telling Winston to be himself has been a point of emphasis)

“No.”

(On what Winston did well against the 49ers)

“He did a really good job making decisions yesterday, I already said that.”

(On defensive tackle Vita Vea starting against the 49ers)

“No that was just the defensive staff decided to go with Vita first out of the gate yesterday. They both played – they both, like you said, were in that rotation.”

(On why the defensive line was successful on Sunday)

“You know what I thought one of the biggest keys in that game was is we really hit [Nick] Mullens a lot in that first half. We’re always talking to our guys about that how that leads to errant throws. We did get the two interceptions in the second half late, but there [were] like three or four other balls that were those balls that were it was kind of wobbling around. The one where Carl [Nassib] hit him and they called it an incomplete pass, we thought maybe that was closer to either a grounding call or a fumble. That’s not the point. The point is that those guys were getting there and they were hitting the quarterback. Then as the game went one, definitely the playing with the lead kicked in – more so in the second half. I thought they really set the tempo in the first half and I thought Duff (Mark Duffner) did a really good job of mixing it up. I think we hit him seven or eight times in the first half and two of those were on pressures when the linebackers hit him. Devante Bond one time off the edge, when he was unblocked, they just beat the protection. We had the right thing on at the right time. The 49ers are a good running team with a good O-Line and [Matt] Breida is a good back, but we thought if we could get ahead of them and put pressure on their passing game then that was just – we were just fortunate the wide receivers thing where two receivers were down. We had no control over that, but I think that’s also an added bonus there.”

(On if he thinks there is a chance the team will still make it to the playoffs with the way Winston played on Sunday)

“Yeah I think the players are just totally thinking of it – I mean you’re welcome to ask them, but I would think they’re going to say they’re just totally worried about who we play that week. This is – I’ve said many time up here – this is a week-to-week league and we had a good week, we played well in all phases. Carolina this week brings a whole new set of challenges.”

(On if some quarterbacks develop at a different pace)

“I think players at all positions develop at their own pace, but I also think there’s a much tighter, stricter standard for guys that are picked first overall or quarterbacks in general picked in the first round. Like, ‘why is Vita not having production?’ You know, but I think there’s all kinds of stories all around the league of guys that some come in and light it up right off the bat and some have to even go to another team. I’m not saying that about any of our guys, but I just think there’s examples all across the board of that.”

(On the decision to kick a field goal on third down before the end of the first half)

“Ok, so you see what we did the play before that – we took a shot in the end zone. Did you see the result of that? We had a four-point lead with a chance to make it seven – that’s in the bank. You have one play from twenty yards. You’re going to run the same exact play we just ran on second down and you’re odds of hitting that play versus your odds of getting sacked or turning it over, sack-fumble or completing it inbounds and not stopping the clock – it’s just not worth it. It’s not worth it, so we took the shot on second down in a clock-running situation, where you try to get the defense from not lining up in exactly their whatever their prevent defend 20-yard play is. I just don’t think it’s worth it.”

(On the reason for not kneeling the ball after the first down)

“Yeah, we tried to take the shot – we probably scored on that play four times over the last two years with a clock running four verticals to the end zone.”

(On if there is an injury update on cornerback Carlton Davis III)

“No.”

(On why Winston wears a visor)

“I’ll tell you the same thing, I have no idea. I have no idea. I didn’t even notice, to be honest with you.”

(On if there needs to be a reason to wear a visor)

“A tinted visor. A clear shield – no.”

(On safety Jordan Whitehead)

“I think officially they had him for 10 solo, one assisted. He was, when they were checking it down there at the end, Jordan was like getting all like they were completing balls. I was going when he came off I said, ‘Hey man just look at it this way, you’re upping your tackle total. They’re throwing six-yard routes down three scores and you’re just going and tackling them. You’re padding your stats.’ I thought Jordan played well overall. You know, we played a lot of man coverage, especially in the first half when we were in base defense against their 21 personnel. Jordan, not only was he down in the box as a run player – he was the primary guy covering [George] Kittle and I thought he really stayed close to Kittle for the most part. At least three times that I can remember when they were running those against the grain boots, he was right there.”

(On what makes Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey so hard to stop)

“He is – boy he’s really playing well, and he had a heck of a game yesterday. He’s so good in both the run game and the pass game. I think they really tailor their offense around him and Cam [Newton] right now – especially their run game. He’s a smart player, exceptional quickness, vision, cutting ability and then as a route runner you’re not going to find many half backs that can run routes. When he came out of college, there was other teams that were saying this guy could possibly be a slot receiver if he didn’t make it as a running back.”

(On McCaffery running better routes than some receivers)

“Yep. He’s a good route runner, that’s for sure.”

(On where McCaffrey ranks among other pass-catching backs in the league)

“He’s right up there. There’s a lot of good ones. In our division, of course [Alvin] Kamara is certainly a good one and Devonta Freeman in Atlanta when he’s healthy is a good one. He’s right up there for sure.”

(On the importance of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton’s decision making)

“I think they’re third in the league in rushing and I think they’re first in the league in yards per rush, so they must be pretty good at it. We’re just getting going on them today. There have been three games in between since we’ve played, so I’ve just barely started on them right before I came down here. I’ll give you a better answer later in the week.”

(On how beneficial it is to play three home games in a row)

“I don’t know the answer. It surprised me to learn just when I was starting to work on Carolina today that they’re 5-0 at home and 1-5 on the road. That surprised me – I wouldn’t have known that except it was in our scouting report. I don’t know. When you sit down at the start of the year and you see your schedule, you’re not think, ‘Oh boy, we’ve got three division games at the end of the season.’ That’s not how you’re thinking of it, but here we are. Better home than away.”

(On the defense playing better at home)

“Our D did a heck of a job yesterday holding those guys. Holding any NFL team to nine points – you’d take that every week.”

Comments