Chad - First of all Mike...I just wanna say thanks a lot for agreeing to do this, I really appreciatte it.
Mike - No problem buddy...no problem.
Chad - I just gotta few questions if you don't mind, I'll just shoot ‘em at ya and you can answer em and if you don't wanna answer them, well that's okay too.
Mike - (Laughs) Alright...
Chad - First off, how's the knee doing?
Mike - Knees doing fine man, yeah it's just a bone bruise, and it's actually doing good so I'll be ready to go Sunday.
Chad - Alright, fantastic!! We're all excited to hear that. Alright the first couple of questions I'm gonna shoot at ya are football related and then there are just some fun ones at the end...
Mike - Alright.
Chad - Some NFL analysts have stated that the type of cover 2 defense you run isn't conducive to stopping the run. Is there something wrong with the defensive scheme the Panthers are using that is allowing good running teams to be successful against you?
Mike - Well you know what, uh, I think it's a combination of things, I really do. It's not necessarily the scheme that we're running because even with Jack Del Rio we were a Cover Two team and we stopped the run so I don't think it's a scheme thing. I think more or less you've got guys with injuries, you've got guys coming in week in and week out, we really didn't have the same guys every week so I think continuity is one of em. So I think, and two, you know we have thrown in some other things, cause we were a cover two team, and we kinda got away from being a Cover Two team and we kinda went to a Three Deep Zone so that's different gaps and deals the linebackers and lineman have to get adjusted to so I think that has been some issues there too.
Chad - You were talking about injuries...do you think the biggest losses to the defense this year have been before the season started due to the loss of free agents or do you think it has been due to injuries?
Mike - Well you know what, we've only had one loss so far this year on defense and that was Kris Jenkins, and that was a huge loss, and you know he frees them guys up to do things on the outside with Rucker and Peppers you know that I can't even state (laughs) you know he was really that good. But you know what, I think free agency hurt us the most, and you know you gotta realize we got three new starters in the secondary, I feel like the secondary is one of the most important groups on the field because if we mess up it's a touchdown...if the linemen mess up or the linebackers mess up it's a ten yard gain cause we are back there to stop em! (Laughs) But if we mess up it's a touchdown. So I think that's been the biggest thing has been us trying to get that continuity as a football unit on defense and we've been very close.
Chad - You, yourself, have been the team's leading tackler for 3 of the last 4 seasons, which is a great accomplishment, and you have that knot on your forehead to prove it… Do you set goals for yourself to be the leading tackler or does it just work out that way because of the scheme you guys run?
Mike - Well you know it's not...we are a Cover Two team so it's not necessarily the scheme, you know I'm not around down by the line of scrimmage that much so it's just a deal man where you are running to the ball, you get to the ball. I make it a deal that every time I come into the game that I am gonna get into the frame that I am gonna get to the ball every play, so that's what it comes down to and so it's not necessarily the scheme that we are running, just hey get to the ball carrier and get him down.
Chad - Well your like a magnet to that I'll tell you that my friend.
Mike - Thank you.
Chad - A lot of people might not know about your high school scouting service that you started. Isn't it geared towards guys that weren't exactly high-profile players in high school, and giving them a kind of NFL Combine like atmosphere for college recruiters?
Mike - Exactly, that's exactly what it is for. I've seen so many kids falling through the cracks so we wanted to come up with something that will give them type kids an opportunity to get shown, because as we all know, that in high school, it's all about marketing yourself. If you are not the high profile player that the media is doing the marketing for ya, you gotta do your own marketing. So it's an opportunity man to get those kids out there and get their talent showcased across the country.
Chad - Well great, I think that is a fantastic program.
Mike - Well thank you.
Chad - The teams mind set...you know you guys have had a lot of injuries, we've talked about the free agent losses before the season started, people coming in and out...things not going as you guys expected and as anybody else expected also...what's the mind set of yourself and the guys in the locker room and what do you guys hope to get out of the rest of this season? What are the realistic accomplishments you guys see you can pull off here?
Mike - Well you know man, realistically we've got eight games left, the second half of the season. It's like a football game is how we break it down...we've got four quarters, four games a quarter and right now we're at halftime coming to the second half. We had a bad first half, okay, so I think guys mind sets are we got eight weeks to prove, to first of all to this organization that they don't need to give up on us. Second of all to prove to the fans, man look it was about continuity, getting guys use to playing with one another Coach John Fox's system works. It's not a one year wonder type thing. So I think that's the mind set the guys have, and you know to be frankly honest with ya man, when you start losing, you know hey...from that point on your on audition. We're in a production business man. If we're not producing, guess what...they'll find somebody else to produce for ‘em, so I think that's the biggest thing is we got eight weeks to show everybody to give us some time to be together, give us another year, we'll come back and be injury free and we'll do what we have to do.
Chad - Well we're all here with ya, I'll tell ya that...through the thick or the thin of it.
Mike - (Laughs)
To Be continued...
Chat with Mike, part 1
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