Panthers Defensive Coordinator, Steve Wilks, addressed the media Monday after the Panthers win over Buffalo. It was a performance that was powered by a defense that is #1 in the league and is the first team since 1981 to allow 3 points or less in each of their first two games. Wilks addressed the team's performance, their early success, and some of the cogs that are making the machine work so well. Here are the highlights. You can watch the entire press conference here.
On the Win:
“It’s hard to win in the National Football League,” Coach Wilks repeated. “As you can see it was a hard fought battle,” Wilks said. “We came into this game with an emphasis stopping the run. You look at what they did last week, 200 yards rushing,” Wilks remarked.
On the Defensive Line:
“I thought our defensive ends did an outstanding job in setting the edge. You look at what Julius Peppers did yesterday, some outstanding play on the perimeter. They did a great job rushing and hitting the quarterback.”
On the Linebackers:
The linebackers did a great job “playing downhill” and made some great open field tackles.
On Last Play that Almost Foiled It All:
“Situational football, we talk about it all the time. The third element of our DNA is playing smart. Last play of the game, 4th down, understanding the time on the clock, most important the formation, all that stuff is talking to us. We got do a much better job with our left corner, Bradberry right here, staying vertical and getting a double on that 7 route with a safety playing inside out.”
“We were playing quarters, James [Bradberry], in my opinion, got a little nosey and allowed the number one receiver to occupy. He drove on the comeback, which we don’t do that in that situation. Thomas should have pushed through as he was, James should have stayed deep.”
On Drew Brees
“Well number one, he’s extremely smart.” “He’s seen every look you can give him. He does a great job in my opinion putting those in a final position of where they need to be.”
On Stopping the Run
“Our first objective each and every week is to stop the run. Point of emphasis, our walk-through, our teaching is on run fits, getting our corners involved.” “We think we can do that.”
On Defensive Line Depth:
It’s extremely important, particularly the demand we put on our guys up front. It’s important to have that rotation. I thought Vernon [Butler] came back and gave us a boost. Kyle Love played outstanding.”
On Julius Peppers:
Just having Julius as a whole is extremely important to this organization, this team, and this defense. “Again this is the great thing about a player of his caliber. He didn’t have a great game last week. It was good from what a lot of you guys may have seen, a lot of things with his technique because he’s still doing a lot of things he’s been doing the last three years in Green Bay.” “A guy like that to still take coaching to still take coaching and teaching tells you a lot about his character.”
“When you look at a 3-4 scheme and you're a standup linebacker, a lot of things you're doing is about width and getting up the field. Well we don’t do that here. We are tight defensive end playing a 6 technique or a 5 and he had to get a lot of things correct about his alignment and his launchpoint.”
Physicality of a Defense:
“The physicality of your defense is not based off your front seven. It’s how well your corners tackle. This league is all about I’m going to crack support and my running back, 25 Shady McCoy, is better than your cornerback....when teams talk about they run to the football, all that is based off our front four turning and running.”