_PANTHERS QUARTERBACK SAM DARNOLD _
RE: What does this victory mean and does it legitimize being a factor in this division?
I mean it’s a good win, a good division win. Still a lot of things we could clean up on offense. The defense did a great job there, but there is still a lot to clean up. It’s the start of the season, we will continue to play one game at a time.
RE: Winning, but knowing you didn’t play perfectly, is that good?
I think most of the teams said the same. I think every team in the NFL continues to build and you start to find your identity as a team as the year progresses, and I think we are. We will continue to work and improve.
RE: Today, over the first week they pitched you, did you have any bootlegs, was that part of the game plan?
I think even in training camp and before the season started, Joe (Brady) had always talked about using this running game, then starting, playing some actions. It’s not just the boot, it’s also play actions. Again, it’s just great play calls from Joe and it’s up to us to execute them.
(Brandon) Zylstra did an amazing job. The way he came out, he just made big plays. He was there, he was in the right place every time. He did a great job.
RE: Level of confidence now compared to the last two or three years?
I’ll just keep doing my job. That’s all that worries me. I’ve always had a lot of confidence, that will never change, just finding completions and continuing to move the ball around the field is a good feeling.
When you are able to run the ball, it makes the action game easier. It starts with the racing game and I think we were able to do a good job with that.
It’s great, it’s complementary football, we talk about it all the time. But we have the ball and the maintenance of training, obviously we want to do more in the red zone, we want to score more points. But being able to stay on the pitch on offense and then our defense going out and creating three outs and stopping them is really good football.
RE: How did the defense make things easier for the offense?
When you’re able to create a threesome and their defense doesn’t really have the respite that they might want, it’s easier for us to go out there and throw the ball and have the wrong direction because that they are a little more tired. This is how the game works, so it was good.
RE: Not having McCaffrey in the group
Obviously you would like to have him there, but we have some great players around me to be able to jump in. I thought Chuba (Hubbard) did a good job when he arrived and this is what you need. Sometimes something is going to happen, let’s hope not, something is going to happen to one guy, another guy has to step in.
RE: How did McCaffrey perform on his return?
He played well. That rushed touchdown was an incredible race. Being able to miss this security, and score on it, was obviously the turning point of the match.
RE: What pieces have you performed today that might define how well you play?
I do not know. I don’t know, I think I’ll have to watch it. Again, I think I’m just playing on my own. I think that’s the most important thing I have to keep doing is not to overdo it and take what the defense gives me, and that’s about it.
RE: Score on the first drive to set the tone offensively
Yeah, that was a great play call from Joe. Our offensive line really led the way on this record. The energy that they came out with, really that they had all day was amazing. They really set the tone at the start of this game, which I attribute a lot to them there. And then everyone was on the same page. We were operating at a high level and you obviously want to maintain that. We did not do it as much in the middle of the match, at the end of half-time. We will be better, we will watch the tape and learn from it. I am really proud of the way we started.
RE: First 2-0 as a starting quarterback in NFL career?
You ask? I do not know.
RE: The offensive lull after half-time, how to eliminate it in the future?
I think we just need to get out faster. It starts with a state of mind. Come out of half time and figure out, okay, our defense is going to get a three-and-out, we’re going to get the ball back and go straight into the field and score. It’s having that mindset.
RE: Chemistry with DJ Moore
You know, DJ (Moore) is a really good player. He’s going to find a way to open up and that’s kind of his thing. Anytime he gets human cover, even in areas, he can find these spots. This is really how everyone plays, but especially DJs.
It’s a great feeling to come out of here with a win. But like I said, we didn’t perform, necessarily as we wanted in the second half. And I think that’s going to be a huge point of emphasis this Thursday night.
RE: Excavator passes to interception
I just tried to pass it to Chuba, it was a bad play. I tried sending it to Chuba and should have thrown it away or thrown it away.
RE: How does it feel to be 2-0?
It feels good. It’s another good win, but you know this league is crazy. You have to keep your head down and keep working.
RE: What’s the most important thing to think about since this week is short?
I’m thinking, right now, about shaping my body right, making sure I stay a day ahead as much as possible, and then watching some tape tonight and tackling the Texans.