Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen
Conference Call, December 16, 2015
Q: What’s the mentality of being undefeated this late in the season and how important is it for you guys to finish that off?
A: I think since Week 1, our approach around here has been pretty consistent. We’re going to try and put all of our energy and all of our focus into each game, each week and try to win one game per week. Obviously, we’ve been able to string a bunch of those together and this is going to be no different. We’re going to prepare the same way, we’re going to do everything that we’ve been doing and we understand that we’ve got a tough challenge ahead of us this weekend coming up to New York and we’re going to do everything that we can, like we have in the past, to come out and put ourselves in a position to be successful.
Q: Can you talk about the growth that you’ve seen in Cam Newton?
A: He’s done a great job. He’s in full control of our offense right now, just completely down, both in the passing game and the running game, and he’s playing as well as anybody in the league. There’s a reason he’s up for MVP, there’s no other quarterback that’s asked to kind of shoulder the responsibility like he is with what he has to do in the run game and, obviously, we’re able to take advantage of a lot of that because of the unique things that he brings to the table.
Q: Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com
So in your mind, at this point of the season, do you think he would be the MVP of the league?
A: I do. I don’t know what more a guy could do. Team’s undefeated, he’s throwing the ball as well as anybody, he’s been great with the ball, no one even comes close to him with what he does in the run game, both designed runs and just improv on third down. Yeah, I mean you’d be hard pressed not to give it to him, but we will see how the season plays out.
Q: He’s always had that talent, what do you think has been the biggest difference though? Has it been grasping the offense or maturity? What do you see?
A: I think the big difference is we’re playing well around him and we’re winning. I think since he’s gotten here as a rookie, his play has been pretty good, it’s been pretty consistent, it’s been at a pretty high level, and now all of a sudden you’re 13-0 and you’re getting contributions and good play from all around you, it allows you to get the recognition that you deserve and it’s no secret that we’re winning because of him and because of that, he’s getting the recognition and acclaim that he should.
Q: How worried should Odell Beckham be about Josh Norman?
A: I don’t know. Obviously Odell is a really talented player and what he’s been able to accomplish in just two short years has been pretty remarkable, but Josh is a heck of a player in his own right. He doesn’t back down from anybody, he’s matched up with the top receiver every week this whole season and I’m sure it’ll be no different on Sunday and both those guys are going to play hard, both those guys are going to get after it, but we feel good about Josh. To have a guy like him, and you can put him on one of the top players each week, makes a big difference.
Q: There was talk a couple weeks ago about you guys being the worst 12-0 team, and you have kind of flown under the radar. Is that something you guys sense as a team or is that something that doesn’t even creep into your thinking at all?
A: Obviously we’ve heard it since Week 3, Week 4, Week 5. It’s been the same narrative, just everyone changes the reasons why we’re the worst at that particular moment. We don’t really pay too much attention to it. It’s really irrelevant, it’s really just background noise. We don’t need anybody’s votes, we don’t need style points, we don’t need any of that. Our record—in our league, your record is what you are. You try to go out each week and win one game, we’ve been able to do that and we’re not going to apologize and we’re not going to change how we do it.
Q: It wasn’t too long ago that Coach Rivera was on the hot seat and it looks like you guys have stayed the course. Can you talk about that? Just staying the course, believing in the system, buying into the system, and just turning it around?
A: I don’t think the reason we’re having success this year is just the matter of this particular season, I think it’s a combination of the past couple of years back when we all got here in 2011. Getting a process in place, getting a system in place, believing in that, getting guys to buy in, and then going out and building towards being able to execute it. I think if you’ve seen these last couple of years, that’s what we’ve been able to do. This will be our third straight playoff appearance, we’ll have a chance to be the top team in the conference, we’re right on the path that Coach laid out for us when he first got here in 2011.
Q: Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com
Any extra motivation coming back to New Jersey? I imagine you’ll probably play in front of some family and friends?
A: It’s nice. I’ve played back there before over the years. Back when I was in Chicago, we came up there. There will be some friends and people in town, but at this point in my career and at this point in the season, each game really is just one game. You don’t put any more stock into it. We prepare and try to play well regardless of home or away or whatever city it’s in. Of course, it’s nice after a game to be able to catch up with some people that I haven’t seen in a while or spoken to in a while. For the most part, the week leading up and the day of the game is pretty much the same.
Q: From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like you’re a team that has a lot of fun. Do you think that’s helped you guys get to this point?
A: I don’t know, I think it’s a byproduct of winning. I think our environment the last couple of years has always been one where we understand that there’s work to be done, we understand that we have guys that take their job very seriously. I think the biggest thing people should know is while we do have fun and on game day there is a lot of energy and a lot of guys running around, having a good time, no one prepares harder than us, no one practices as hard as us, no one puts as much time and energy in as us. That’s what we believe and that’s why we’re able to get out there on game day and feel confident that our preparation is where it needs to be and we can go out, let loose, and play. I think we do a good job finding that balance of, hey, you need to make this enjoyable, this can’t be a chore every day coming here, but at the same time, there’s work to be done. We take our jobs very seriously.
Q: Were you able to do anything in practice today?
A: Our Wednesdays are a little more tempo downed over the last couple of weeks in general, so I was able to get out there and do a little bit. We’ll see how the week goes on and we’ll see how I progress and as we get closer to the end of the week, we’ll get a better idea.