Thursday morning the Carolina Panthers had a press conference introducing President of Football Operations/General Manager Dan Morgan and Head Coach Dave Canales. Much was said during the hour-long event that included questions from the media, but here are the top five things that stood out.
Evero is Staying…or at Least Canales Would Like Him To
Despite all the changes happening with the staff on the offensive side of the ball, there will be continuity on the defensive side. When asked about working with the Panthers’ defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, new head coach Dave Canales spoke about how difficult it has been to scheme against defenses Evero has been a part of here in Carolina and with the Rams.
“Just the respect factor that I have going against them. I know the scheme going against it. I’m really excited to learn more about the ins and outs as far as how the calls come in, the adjustments and all that of that. I just know it was really difficult on me for years, whether it was in Seattle going against the Rams in that family or this year just going against EJ twice. This is really important for me, especially as a first-time head coach who’s like, I’m here to make sure we get our football right, especially on the offensive side, that we have that continuity with the players, with EJ, just being able to have the mentality that I saw that was really challenging to play against.”
When asked if he expects Evero will be back, Canales said:
“Yes. For me this is a huge piece of what we’re doing.”
Although Evero is still under contract with Carolina, it hasn’t been confirmed that he’d like to stay with the team under the new regime.
The buzz word from today’s press conference was “Alignment.” Both Morgan and Canales used it to describe how things will be run.
“There’s going to be alignment in our building,” Dan Morgan said early into his opening statement. “And we’re going to do things the right way to build a championship team here.”
“It’s going to be a daily communication between the front office, between ownership, between the head coach, and it’s just alignment on the roster,” Morgan said later on. “It’s alignment on just everyday thinking. What are we about, what’s the vision, are we doing the best things to reach that vision and that mission every single day. It’s just constant communication and it’s just being aligned in everything we do down to the detail.”
“For me it’s about building that culture,” Canales said. “Building our language. Making sure we’re using specific language. There’s going to be a bunch of buzz words thrown around. I don’t like synonyms. We all speak the same language, and we’re all heading in the same direction with that alignment that we talk about.”
Who Let the Dawgs Out
When discussing the type of players he wants to bring to Carolina, Dan Morgan paid homage to Panthers’ legends including Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith – adding that their level of tenacity and competitiveness is what the team needs.
“We need some dogs. We’ve got to get some guys that are passionate about football, that love football, that want to come out every day and compete on the practice field, in the weight room. We need competitors. We’ve got to bring that back here. We’ve got to bring that back here to Bank of America Stadium to where people get excited about coming to see our team.”
Playing to Bryce’s Strengths
One thing that made Dave Canales an attractive candidate for the Panthers’ head coaching job was the success he’s had with quarterbacks at previous spots, including Russell Wilson, Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield. The hope is that Canales will be able to bring the best out of Bryce like he was able to do with them. The way he plans to do that is playing to Young’s strengths.
“I want him to be the best possible version of himself,” Canales said when asked how his experience with quarterbacks might help develop Bryce Young in his second year. “That’s the same approach that I’ve taken since I’ve been coaching positions in the NFL. That’s really the approach I want to take with him.”
“Some of the other things that kind of come to mind thinking about the quarterbacks that I’ve worked with over the last couple of years is we are going to become what Bryce is great at in the pass game. We’re going to grow to the capacity that he can handle. There’s got to be a commitment and a discipline about that. There was a growth curve there with Baker (Mayfield). Here’s where we’re at today based on the information we have. Let’s get into these situations and see where he looks most confident. When I see that back foot planted in the ground and that ball rips out of there without any hesitation, I know we’ve got something. Let’s find more of those. Let’s put it in three different personnels and a couple different formations and motions.”
The Carolina Panthers don’t have a first round draft pick – after trading it to Chicago last year in order to select Bryce Young. That has been a concern for some, but not new general manager Dan Morgan.
When asked, Morgan said getting a first round draft pick is not high on his priority list.
“We have the 33rd pick, which is essentially a late first-round pick. We’re just going to draft good players, and hopefully at 33, I think there will be a good player there. If we choose to move back, if we choose to move up, that’s to be seen. But we’re going to plan. We’re going to have a plan. We’re going to execute on that plan.”