How are you feeling a couple days after?
“I feel good. It’s always good to get that first win under your belt. But, we’re onto the Panthers. It’s a quick week, a short week playing Monday night. We’ve got to turn the page pretty quickly and start preparing for Carolina.”
No, I meant how you felt physically because I know you ran a lot–?
“Oh yeah, just the usual football stuff. But, no I feel great. It’s good to get that football soreness back and that’s something that, I don’t know, I kind of look forward to on Monday and Tuesday mornings. It just shows that you played a game. But, now it’s on the process of preparing for this week and getting your body back to where it needs to be.”
When you get back to work, what are the things that you look to clean up from what happenedon Monday night?
“I think just little things. Things that can keep drives alive. Things that can start drives faster. But, for the most part, we executed in the red zone, we executed on third down. There’s definitely areas that we can improve on, especially in the third down category, but I think we started off on the right foot in those two specific areas and now it’s just kind of fine tuning the little things, getting the timing down and just moving forward with that.”
I’ve heard some analysts say that they thought you played too fast and I was just wondering how you would evaluate how you were playing and if you felt that you were in a good rhythm or–?
“Yeah, for the most part I felt like I was in rhythm all game, going through my reads, taking off when I needed to take off there on third down. So, I would say that I’m just trying to execute our offense and that’s it.”
No sacks on Monday, none in the preseason either. Is that a factor of just being in the league for your sixth season and knowing how to go through your progressions more quickly?
“Yeah. Sacks are such momentum plays for a defense like the Rams. Anything that I can do to get the ball out of my hands, especially when they’re trying to heat you up with pressure, just to not give them that satisfaction of having a sack on third down because that kind of builds momentum into the next drive. But, really our offensive line did a great job. That’s a really talented front seven that we faced and [Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams dials up a lot of exotic pressures and our communication was great all game long. When they did pressure us, I felt like myself, the receivers and the running backs were on the same page from a hot standpoint.”
Kind of looking back on the early part of your career, you took a lot of sacks early on in Jacksonville. Is that one of the bigger differences between a young quarterback and a more experienced one?
“Yeah. I think at times, young quarterbacks tend to try and do too much, especially on third down, trying to hold onto the ball, force it past the sticks. But, when you’re in max-drop zones, sometimes your best throw is underneath for catch and carries and let the guys go to work underneath. But yeah, I think there’s a combination. There’s a multitude of factors that go into why a sack kind of happens. It’s definitely on the quarterback, but there’s a lot of factors that kind of go into that.”
You mentioned Gregg Williams and some of the exotic stuff he does. Are the Panthers more basic, just line up and go play football?
“Yeah, we’re still kind of getting to know the Panthers. But, for the most part from what we’ve seen is they just go out and play their stuff. They’re an extremely talented defense. We know what they accomplished last year. They played a great game versus Denver in Week 1 and it’s going to be a challenge, but we’re going to prepare hard and be prepared for it.”
With the quick turnaround, how fast do you jump into Carolina stuff? What’s your last 48 hours or so been like?
“Since we play on Monday night, you watch the film there Tuesday morning as group. But, you’ve got to turn the page pretty quickly and right in our afternoon meetings we started preparing for Carolina and started to get a jump start on the film because we’ve got a little catching up to do.”
ESPN announcer Steve Young said on the broadcast that when he talked to the coaches that you see the field very well and it’s just a matter of sometimes just letting it rip, letting it go. Is that a conversation you’ve had at times with the coaches?
“Yeah. I think any quarterback, you just let it rip. There’s no point in holding anything back, especially in a game. You’ve just got to see what you see and trust the throw and for the most part I thought I did that. There’s a couple throws, like in any football game, you’d like to have back. But, we executed our offense. Like I said, we were 50-percent on third downs and four-for-four with four touchdowns in the red zone and anytime you can do that in a football game and not turn the football over, the chances of victory are huge. That’s just something that we can keep building on as we progress in the season.”
What’s it been about WR Jeremy Kerley that’s allowed him to transition pretty seamlessly in these last few weeks?
“He’s savvy and I don’t use that term very lightly because there’s a lot of things that go into being a savvy football player. You’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to have good timing, good feel especially at his position. The way he came in, being only here for a week and playing, shoot, the entire game for us, it was great to see it. But, that’s just a credit to how he works throughout the week in practice mastering this offense and I’m just looking forward to building that relationship throughout the season.”
Given that he works mostly out of the slot, is that a position for you that you need to develop more chemistry with just because he might be running more option routes or are there things that you do working with him individually that build that?
“Well, I think the slot guys, the tight ends and the running backs, those are big matchups on the inside because if they’re trying to double the guys outside, you usually have singled up on the inside. Any time you can isolate those guys on linebackers and safeties or whatnot, those are favorable advantages for the offense.”
The Panthers looked at you hard in 2011 coming out of the draft. What do you remember about that pre-draft process and how did you gauge necessarily what they were maybe going to do between you and Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton?
“Yeah. We always had good meetings. I think every meeting in that pre-draft process was a positive one and you never know where you’re really going to get drafted. You interview with so many teams, so many coaching staffs, visit so many different organizations on those individual visits and they’re a great staff. [Carolina Panthers head] coach [Ron] Rivera’s a good coach and a great person and I wished him nothing but the best. But, they went with Cam and that’s how it goes.”
Did you think you had a chance to go one?
“Like I said, you never know. It’s such, kind of, a tossup in the draft room, especially going into the green room on that draft night. You’re like, ‘Well, I could go here. I could fall to here.’ But, no, it was a great time and I was just happy to get drafted and that was it.”
Is that where you had your first career start too? Was that in Carolina?
“Yeah. It was in Carolina in 2011. It was actually, they had like a tropical storm that game and it was wild. They had like hurricane weather and the water was overflowing that top bowl. I just remember [Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB] Darryl Smith carrying, he carried [former Jacksonville Jaguars K] Josh Scobee out of the tunnel at halftime because there was like a foot-and-a-half of water sitting in the tunnel. It was wild.”
You’re a leader on this team and there’s been reports, talk on TV about the fabric of this team being ripped by the protests and stuff. I was just wondering what the vibe is this week and how the team is?
“I think the vibe’s been the same as it has been since we got here April 4th. We’ve got an eager group of guys in this locker room that are here to win a lot of football games. The vibe’s been extremely positive. We’re out here having fun, but working extremely hard at our craft. We’re just going to keep that mindset through the ups and downs because there’s going to be downs this year. There’s going to be wins and losses. But, if you can keep even keel and come to work with the same mindset every day after a game, you’re going to see consistent improvement throughout the season.”
So you would disagree that the fabric of the team has been ripped?
“I don’t know who personally said the fabric’s been ripped, but none of my fabric’s been ripped. So, my shirts are intact.”
The NFL announced their new concussion initiative. $60 million for new helmets and new technology. Do you have any thoughts on that, what you would like to see in helmets?
“I’m just going to stick to my old trusty Riddell Revolution. It’s done me well so far. So, no point in changing it for myself.”
Can you compare helmets from like high school, college, pro, like how you felt when you wear them–?
“A helmet’s a helmet. You’ve got an air bladder in there that they put air in and it’s supposed to protect your head I guess.”
Last year, the team won the Monday night opener and then went on the road and had a pretty tough go of it in Pittsburgh. I was wondering, do you guys talk about that? Are you–?
“The past is the past. Our mindset going into this week, it’s a new week. One down, one to go is what [head] coach [Chip] Kelly always says. You put the last game behind and you’ve got to move on. Good, bad, indifferent, win, loss. It doesn’t matter. You have to learn from it, kind of process and diagnose the things that you did well and you did wrong. But, we turned the page. We’re on the Panthers now and that’s our sole focus going there, it’s an east coast trip, and just getting our minds and bodies prepared for it.”
But it’s not a good warning to remember what happened last year?
“I mean, that was 365 days ago and we’ve got a whole different group of guys. And like I said, we’re just focused on the Panthers and getting better each and every day this week and going to put our best foot forward there on Sunday.”
Regarding Kerley, did you have a sense before the game that he was pretty on it and had the potential to be a pretty big factor?
“Yeah. Just seeing how we had worked together in practice that week, kind of looking at some film, kind of seeing where they were soft and voiding some zones there in the slot and some of the matchups that we had in man coverage, it was a good thing to kind of have in my back pocket going into that game. But, we still had to go out and execute. He did a great job kind of sitting down in zones and beating man coverage when he had to and he had a big play there on fourth down. But, it’s just the first step of this season and you’re going to see us get better from here on out.”