The Carolina Panthers are not going away and will get the things that went wrong in the 2016 season corrected, Dave Gettleman said.
The difference between 2016, when the Panthers finished 6-10, and 2015, when they went 15-1 and advanced to the Super Bowl, was games decided by one score. The Panthers were 2-6 in games decided by a field goal or less this season.
“The NFL is built on close games. You’ve got to win close games, and this season we did not get that done,” Gettleman said. “We will get that corrected. We’re gonna fix it.”
In his opening statement, however he said he wouldn’t place blame during the news conference.
“I’m not here to point fingers ... moving forward we have to find solutions,” he said.
Later, though, he did point one finger – at himself – in response to a question about whether he had done enough in the offseason to address needs at offensive tackle.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t question myself – hold myself accountable,” he said. “(Asking myself), ‘Have I given Ron enough players?’”
Healthy, though, Gettleman said he thought the Panthers had enough. Key injuries spoiled that.
“Last year we were healthy as hell,” he said.
Still, Gettleman said later, one bad season is not the end for the Panthers – as he invoked Chicken Little.
“The sky is not falling here,” he said.
▪ On the first step: “We’re going to spend the next two weeks evaluating. The roster is fluid. Everything is fluid. You guys know that. ... It’s really important that it’s unemotional and objective.”
▪ On Josh Norman: “Josh (Norman) plays for the Redskins, last time I checked. So I’m not going to talk about him.”
▪ On rookie cornerback James Bradberry: He “more than held his own” on Julio Jones and Mike Evans at end of season.
▪ On the offense and Cam Newton: “The whole offense was just out of whack. ... We just couldn’t get rhythm.”
▪ On whether Newton needs to get better: “We all have to get better. All of us, including me.”
▪ On whether the Panthers need to evolve: “Evolve” isn’t the right word he says, but “maintaining the status quo will get your fanny beat.”
▪ On the backup offensive linemen forced to play by injuries: “They didn’t fall apart.”
▪ On the draft: Deep at safety, cornerback, defensive end and running back.
▪ On whether Steve Smith can retire a Panther: “That is way above my pay grade. Way above.”
▪ On the Josh Norman situation: “Everything is a learning experience.”
▪ On whether expects Michael Oher to be his left tackle in 2017: “Right now, I don’t know that.”
▪ On changes to the offense as Newton ages: “We’re going to take a hard look at what’s going on.”
▪ On potential changes to the coaching staff: Those decisions are Rivera’s “bailiwick,” though adds he and Rivera talk about a lot of things.
▪ On Luke Kuechly: Gettleman said he has no concerns about the linebacker’s long-term health after he missed the final six games after suffering a concussion.
▪ On a window for winning: I always have a sense of urgency, and you should too. Everybody in this room should have a sense of urgency about who they are as people.
▪ On the future: “The key thing is you can’t panic. ... This is not for the faint of heart. ... Cam is 28. He’s not 37.”
▪ On the coaching staff: “We went 17-2 last year. We didn’t get stupid overnight.”