PANTHERS HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
RE: Sam Darnold’s appearance tonight
I found some of his moves in third place great. It was nice to see how he played with his feet. I wasn’t happy with the ball they said was incomplete. We do not need that. You know, we’re in field goal. I think he had to go out and play. I think he moved the ball, moved the ball, moved the ball again. It’s just a few of those second and one, third and one, fourth and ones that we haven’t done. We called some of them. We wanted to see, hey, can we take the ball in fourth and first place. We wanted to give him this situation. We wanted to give him the third and the 16th. I think in a regular season game we would probably check the ball down there and score field goals. But we wanted to put him in a few situations. I think he came out of that. But at the end of the day he beat us in the two minutes at the end of half and it was great fun for Robby [Anderson]. As with everyone else, there will be some good ones and some bad ones. We go back and look at the tape. He will grow from it. Overall, I found the performance to be good.
Obviously, Ryan [Santoso] literally flown in yesterday, bought a pair of studs, came here today and walked around looking at the field. For the first time on our lawn. For the first time with a new gate / holder. So going out there and starting a 52-yarder, of course, that was encouraging. So that’s one of the reasons we got him. See what he can do. We got a good start picture from him. Obviously, Joey [Slye] unfortunately missed the kick on the far right. But shot the ball well. So, like all of our players, we stand up for them all. We go back and look at the tape. See what happened. Try to keep it consistent with the guys with the snaps and holders so we have a good picture to compare.
RE: The kind of team member Joey Slye is
He is a wonderful person. He worked really hard. He made a lot of kicks. He did a lot of good. He’s in one of those places he’s struggling right now. If you fight in many other positions, people don’t know. Unfortunately, if you struggle in this position, it will increase in size. He was a brother of these guys. He worked with these guys so they want him to be successful. It’s the power of the locker room. It is the brotherhood that you are trying to create. Joey is an amazing person. He did not shy away from any of this. He tries to work his way through. He’s out there kicking extra, doing extra. He tries mechanically to get to where he wants to be.
RE: It’s important to get the win today
Of course we wanted to win. But I think the more important thing is how we win. Take the ball away three times. So as not to turn the ball over. We started the first game three weeks ago with 10 penalties or 13 penalties, whatever it was. I think we had three tonight. Still, nothing is perfect. We have a lot to do. But I found it relatively clean. Especially without Christian [McCaffrey] out there. It’s encouraging about some of the things we’ve done. Defensively, it was really encouraging. It’s a good football team. They played a lot of their offensive linemen, some of their tight ends, some of their receivers, so they ran into some good players out there. I think our defense is quick and hard. Encouraged by many things, but also knowing many things, you can’t hide the bad things just because you’ve won the game.
RE: Schedule of the kicker decision
I am not sure of the schedule. That is honest. We brought Ryan with us [Santoso] Knowing that we have a few days before the cut to make a decision on him. I’ll probably meet with Scott tomorrow morning and we’ll see where we are in each position and try to be thorough for the next few days.
RE: Decision to play more Santoso than Slye tonight
We got into the game with a hey, we’re gonna make Ryan toast and kick the first one. Have Joey kick the second, depending on where he was, then have Ryan kick for most of the rest of the night. Of course we had a few field goal attempts and a few touchdowns so we had the chance to let the guys kick a lot. I wasn’t sure how many we would have. So we wanted to make sure we saw each of the guys kick at least once. The way the night went.
RE: Two-minute scoring drive for Darnold
I think situational football, the third downs, the red zone, the two minutes, we got all of those things with the ones today. We did some things well. We didn’t do some things well. I believe we were executed on that trip. I think it was four and three when we DJed [Moore] So we did the fourth down. We just wanted to put him in all of these situations. He played a lot of football. I’m just trying to get it when I say it, I mean Sam and everyone else, just trying to get them to play on our system and trust the game Joe is calling [Brady] power. Trust the process we have and just stay within yourself. Guys are going to make mistakes. We will try to correct them and become a better football team every week.
I want to make sure I say it because some of the coaches asked me. I want him not to focus on being a leader. I think his leadership will come out with his work ethic. I think you are starting to see a man who has some leadership that shows up. He’s not like the guy who’s going to pick up the guys and give a speech. You know the RA-RA spokesman. He’s a guy who’s starting to take responsibility from guys. The boys play for him because he can’t find excuses. I believe in true, true, true leadership. I don’t believe in easy leadership. There are a lot of easy-going leaders who say the right things in the big moments, but they don’t live and do that. I think if you have a life of doing the right things, people want to hear what you are doing has to say. I think Sam is born and developed that way. But the most important thing is that he’s the first in the building and the last to leave. Work hard. We’re lucky because we have three quarterbacks that are like that. That’s the culture in this room that is great.
RE: Do you like what you saw of PJ Walker and Will Grier and do you think PJ will stay in second place?
I’m not ready to say this just yet, I thought PJ (Walker) was really good when he was in, made the big throw to Tommy (Tremble), made the big throw on the sideline to David (Moore) who did Via route to Shi (blacksmith). I think he put a lot of balls in the hands of the guys, they didn’t necessarily play the game we’d like. But I thought he was good, he brought us to the gate. Then I thought Will was excellent too. Will played a few games with his feet. I’m very excited to see Will do this. He went out there, had a lot of two and three guys with him and still found a way to move the team. And ultimately, it’s about moving the team. So, like I’ve been saying all along, I feel really good about these two guys. Of course, we have to make tough decisions in the next few days. We will start very early in the morning as staff and staff. But happy for these guys that they went out and played well.
You know what, i don’t. I just saw his father when I walked in here. I don’t know exactly where that is. It didn’t sound like it was here, but it sounded like it was significant, but we’ll see how far that is. I would hate to say something and not have it right when they are looking at it.