This Sunday, the red hot Carolina Panthers come to Miami having won six games in a row. Both the Panthers and the Dolphins have playoff aspirations, so the product on the field figures to be a good one. In this week’s edition of “What They’re Saying”, take a look at what’s being said in the Dolphins’ locker room about their upcoming opponent.
On his general thoughts on the Panthers – “Coach Rivera and his staff are doing a heck of a job. They are playing well in all three phases of the game, that’s the thing that has you concerned when you are one of their opponents. Offensively they don’t turn the ball over much. The quarterback is playing extremely well. They have got a good tight end. They have good receivers. They are running the ball well, so they are doing a good job there. Then defensively their numbers are off the charts, they are playing very, very well. So it’s a good football team, and special team they have a dangerous returner, I think their specialist are having a good year, so there are not a lot of weaknesses on the team.”
On what he saw Monday Night from the Panthers against the Patriots – “Obviously there’s two good football teams on the field, that’s number one. Number two is, I don’t know if I have seen a game with as few possessions that I have watched this year as there was in that game on Monday Night. Point three was, when you know there are two good teams on the field at once you know it’s going to come down to execution in the fourth quarter. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but what did Carolina have a 13 play drive or something to score the winning touchdown, and if I am not mistaken, a 25-yarder (touchdown reception to win). They put together a drive when they had to and won the game and made enough plays to win and I think that’s a credit to them.”
On Carolina not being a common opponent what improvements he has seen out of Cam Newton this season – “I remember, I think I was at a former employer in 2011 when he played the second game of his career I believe and he really played well that day and threw the ball extremely well. Like you said, I didn’t follow a lot of his action last year, but the one thing you notice about him it seems like he is making very good decisions with the football, you don’t see a lot of balls that are forced. He is throwing to the guys that are either open or they got one receiver and one defender. Inevitably when you study your picks at the end of the year, what happens sometimes is you’re throwing the ball into a crowd where the defense outnumbers the offense, you don’t see a lot with that with him. So that is probably the biggest thing in the passing game that I have been impressed with.”
On what does he think about Carolina’s defense – “They play fast. I think that’s the biggest thing. They’ve got a great front. If you look at their front seven it’s probably one of the best we’ll face all year. Solid secondary to go behind that and they play fast, they play as a unit. It’s not the most complicated team that we’ll face throughout the course of the year but their very good at what they do. They’re not going to make mental mistakes, they’re not going to leave anybody open, uncovered and they play fast.”
On what he remembers from working out with Luke Kuechly – “Luke’s a great guy, a football player, a competitor, very athletic, loves the game, great guy to be around. When I was throwing I had broken my foot so I missed the first part of it. He’s a great player and we didn’t have any receivers there because I was later because of my foot and Luke’s out there running routes for me, playing tight end. I’m trying to tell him, ‘Hey, Luke calm down, it’s not that serious, you need to spot up and catch,’ and he’s like ‘No, no I can run the full thing.’ He’s that type of guy, that type of competitor who just wants to play the game and he’s going to go all out. You see that on tape, without knowing anything if I was just watching him play, you see a guy who just flies around, very quick to diagnose plays and see blocking schemes and fit up and make a tackle.”
On what his thoughts are on the Panthers – “It’s definitely a game I’m looking forward to. Obviously they’ve been on a roll as far as football is concerned, playing pretty well and we’re coming off a game where we feel like we can take the momentum and kind of build with it. Try and make sure we have our season go in a positive direction, so I think it’s going to be a good game on Sunday. Obviously both teams are really looking for a win and there’s a lot of things that show that we can match up pretty well so I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
On if he’s face a quarterback like Cam Newton this year who can escape the pocket – “You always talk about quarterbacks who can run and when it comes down to it, whether they throw the ball 40 yards or ran it 40 yards you still are force to be 1st and 10, 40 yards down the field. Having to make sure that you take care of both in a situation where the quarterback would run or thrown the ball definitely puts a challenge on the defense but the way we’re built as a defense, it’s something that I feel like we’re up to the task for. We’ve got a lot of guys who can run and make plays, we’ve got guys who, rush the passer well and just making sure that everybody is on the same page as far as keeping him contained, or any quarterback for that matter. That’s the basis of rushing together as a unit. This is another week in the NFL where there’s another challenge that you have to deal with as a defense. I think we’ll be prepared and ready on Sunday. “
On if he’s seen any improvement in Cam Newton’s games – “Like you said, I don’t do much studying of quarterbacks and this is not a common game where we don’t play each other often. To me, I look at a guy who’s taking the snaps as kind of the guy who’s running the show. At the end of the day he’s the quarterback he has to drop back to throw the ball and usually their going to try to avoid being hit and that’s just like any other quarterback you play. Generally speaking, if you make their day stressful or long or difficult you can affect the outcome of the game. That’s not unique to him that’s universal across the board. The same approach as far as in the back end, the DB’s as far as getting after a receiver, disguising looks and so on and so forth, upfront trying to get them off the point, mess up the timing whatever it may be, that’s just the way the game is.”
On the Panthers’ offensive line – “You know what, I don’t know exactly what they have going on. I know that there are a couple of guys that have kind of moving around, but I am sure that later on in the week that will kind of play itself out. Again, I don’t know the exact stats, I think they are top ten or so in the league in rushing. I don’t know that exactly you will have to look that up for me, but obviously they do a good job running the ball. Their running backs run the ball hard, they work together as a unit and that is the essence of playing this game, you have a group of guys that are going to try to impose their will on another group of guys which is our defensive line and our front seven, and we feel like that is a kind of game we like. Everybody that we have is hard headed and hardnosed and will go up there and put their head in. That kind of downhill kind of football is the kind of the ball we like, so I think it will be a good matchup on Sunday. I think I can speak for the rest of the guys when I say we feel good about it.”
On the biggest change in Cam Newton this year – “He’s making a lot of smart decisions. You’ll notice that off the top, and he’s making a lot of throws. I mean, he’s always made throws, but he’s not making big mistakes in games. He’s playing smart football throughout [all] four quarters and keeping his team in position to win games and making plays when they need him to make big plays.”
On going up against Steve Smith – “He’s a great player. He’s made a lot of plays in this league. He’s extremely competitive—he gets himself hyped sometimes, that’s just him. It’s expected now—he’s going to do some things, get hyper and do things like that, but I respect it. That’s his game, he’s a hell of a player and it’s a challenge coming up this Sunday.”
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The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.