Coach Ron Rivera: "That is what we envisioned."

Head coach Ron Rivera takes questions following the Panthers' win against the visiting Bengals.

RE: His vision for offense with the hiring of Norv Turner

Yes. I really appreciate the things we saw today. I thought they did some really good things. Coach really gave Cam Newton some options, some opportunities. Cam made some great decisions. Christian McCaffrey ran hard, played well. I like the way Coach mixed up the different personnel groupings. I thought that was outstanding and really used them to our advantage and it showed. Bringing CJ Anderson in and running what we call 21 Pony with all the shifts, motions and movements led to some plays. To answer your question, yes, that is what we envisioned.

RE: Four interceptions today

I’m really pleased with what Eric Washington and the staff came up with. I thought they did a great job game planning and implementing the plan. I know it was a little shaky at first when they came out but they did some things and then on the sidelines I thought Eric and the coaches made some really good adjustments and decisions. We gave up a couple of chunk passes that we have to go back and look at and get those things corrected. I thought the pass rush really came up big. Efe Obada got an opportunity to play and really showed very well for us today. I’m really pleased with that. I thought Julius Peppers made some plays. Captain Munnerlyn came up with a nice play for us on a blitz. I really like the team effort that we got from our team.

RE: Today’s game ball recipients

It wasn’t hard. It really wasn’t. Efe Obada got one and Donte Jackson got one just because the young man came back off of the injury and getting a couple picks like that and tackled the way he did too. Of course Efe making a couple of exciting plays too and that’s really cool for him.

RE: McCaffrey’s success in the passing came last week set up today’s success in the running game

It may have. I think again, his ability to run the ball inside, he doesn’t get enough credit for it. I thought some of the running plays on the inside were excellent, very well blocked. The offensive line again did a stellar job. I know we gave up a scary sack but other than that I thought the guys really responded and did a great job.

RE: Cincinnati’s response early on to counter McCaffrey’s receiving ability

That’s a question for Coach Norv. He is calling the game according to his field, what he sees and the match ups he is trying to create stuff like that. I don’t want to try and guess what he is thinking but along those lines, yes, probably.

RE: Have you ever had a player have a first NFL game like Efe Obada had today?

I have been around guys who have had days like that. There is a Mark Anderson who played for the Bears back in 2006. He had one of those types of games. It’s really neat to watch guys get those opportunities to play well. Like I said, very happy for him.

RE: Decision to make Obada active after he hadn’t been the last couple of games

What we have been doing to watching the young guys practice and Eric Washington and I talked about it and we felt we were going to tell these young guys whoever we feel strongly about their practice habits, we are going to give opportunities. Last week I thought Marquis Haynes out practiced everybody and then this week I thought Efe practiced very well. Eric and I talked about it and so we activated Efe. We also had an extra spot because of the injuries so we also activated Bryan Cox Jr. who had a good week. Marquis had a good week as well but again, just looking, I thought Efe deserved the opportunity.

RE: Rashaan Gaulden not playing defensively until late in the game

Again, when we knew the ball was going to get up in the air. Colin Jones is a very physical player, a downhill player and Gaulden has some athleticism and range. We decided down the stretch we were going to give Gaulden some opportunities.

RE: Devin Funchess responding well after drop

Without a doubt. That’s the beauty of it. Cam Newton is developing a rapport with his receivers and he will come right back to those guys because he knows they have run their routes hard. They understand what it takes and makes plays. Just really pleased with some of the effort we got from our receiving corps. Those guys did some really good things and made some plays when we needed them, especially down the stretch.

RE: Aspects that come together to get a successful long running play

It is all about the timing of the blocking up front. Again, if the blocking is on time and where it needs to be you can get those creases and then they open. It’s trusting that they are going to be there. If for whatever reason you miss a block or you are late getting to it, that crease will close and it happened a couple of times. When he hit those creases there was some really good blocking upfront. I’m very pleased with the effort and not just that, there is blocking down field. For the ball to pop, that means second level guys are making their blocks, tight ends and wide receivers. That is a big part of what we are doing. The wide receivers are doing a heck of a job blocking for us.

RE: Ryan Kalil

He is probably one of the most athletic centers I have been around. To see him get around the corner, run the way he does, it is pretty impressive.

RE: What the win provides going into the early bye week

It makes life a lot easier, that’s for sure. It can provide some momentum. I really do, I really think it can. I really appreciate the way the guys took last week and practiced last week and prepared themselves for this game. There has been a lot of tough things going on here in the Carolinas and I just really appreciate the way they focused. It was kind of a nice deal for our guys to go on break with a win.

RE: What needs to be addressed with team defensively in the red zone

Again, we are playing against some pretty good offenses and that’s the truth of the matter. Atlanta is a heck of an offense and did a nice job. Unfortunately, we came out on the losing end last week. But this week, I thought our guys played hard and fought. We gave up a couple of plays. That’s going to happen. I’m just going to be honest about that when you watch it on tape. Now there are some things we most certainly do need to look at and I know we have about six days as coaches to take a look at it and kind of come up with some ideas.

RE: Heat a factor in today’s game; affecting Luke Kuechly’s cramps

Oh yeah, it was sneaky humid. You know the way Luke plays, he leaves it all on the field. So, we had to treat him, get him taken care of and he came back and finished up the game for us. David Mayo played the mike linebacker for us and that was really good to have a young man like that in position, ready to roll.

RE: Defense’s excitement on sidelines on Efe Obada’s performance

Absolutely. Whether it was Efe making a play or we got the interceptions from Donte Jackson, stuff like that. When guys make plays, to see the infectious attitude of just excitement, I think that is a big part of team football.

RE: How do you continue to improve offense with an early bye week

The truth of the matter is just practice. That is all we can do. We will practice, get these guys away from football for a few days, let them relax and then bring them back. We will practice smartly next week in terms of preparation for our next opponent.

RE: 21 Ponies

It’s just the idea of having two running backs in at the same time with a tight end and two wide receivers. Again, it gives us options whether we hand the ball to CJ Anderson or we give it to Christian McCaffrey or Cam Newton throws it to one of those two guys, throws it to the tight end or wide receivers. It just gives us the opportunity to put a guy in a position out there that they have to account for him.

RE: Ian Thomas’ comfort level on the field

He is getting more and more comfortable. I think Cam is getting more and more comfortable with him. I’m pretty excited about his development. It is one of those things that we know when we get Greg Olsen back out there with Ian and Chris Manhertz, I think our tight end group can be pretty formidable.


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