Panthers DC On Thompson, Tillman, HC Gigs

Since defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was hired by the Panthers following the 2011 season, the team’s defense has steadily improved. Prior to his signing, the Panthers placed 27th in points allowed. Since then, the team has moved up the rankings, culminating in allowing the second-fewest points in 2013.

The future is clearly bright for the Carolina defense, and the 41-year-old defensive coordinator added some useful pieces to his unit during the offseason. McDermott sat down with Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer to discuss some of those moves. We’ve highlighted the notable soundbites below…

On the Panthers selection of linebacker Shaq Thompson (25th overall), and how he fits into the team’s system:

You always go through that. I know Dave (Gettleman) and Ron (Rivera) talk a lot about fit. That’s part of the fit for a player. Where do you play him?

I’ve been in the league long enough to know sometimes a player falls to you and you say, pick him. Yeah, well, have you gone through the makeup? Have you gone through the whole (process) and answered all those tough questions? Well, you’ve got him. Now what are you going to do with him?

That’s always an important part of all those conversations leading up to the draft.

On the signing of veteran cornerback Charles Tillman:

Part of being a good coach is putting people in a position to be successful. With Charles, we’ve got a guy that’s played a lot of football. He’s been successful. He’s got some size to him that we feel like can help us.

You look at the division, right down the road in Atlanta, and Tampa, more and more you find these receivers have some vertical size to them. So that certainly helps us in that way. And then Bené [Benwikere], with what he’s shown in terms of tracking the ball, certainly helped as a rookie the last how many games he was out there for. We feel like we’ve got some options at this point. …

Really defense is a game of matchups. If we get a guy in the slot that’s quick, Bené could match up inside for us. And let’s not forget about Colin Jones and what he brings to the table.

On whether he was surprised at the lack of inquiries from other teams regarding his interest in head coaching:

Nah. That stuff, it goes in waves. I’m so dialed in on this team and this season.

Believe it or not, after about four or five days of being off, I’m already itching to get going here. I’m excited for the season. I’m excited for the group of guys we have on defense. It’s a terrific group of guys on the whole team.

They’re high-character, young men that just make it a joy to be around them everyday. I’ll say the same thing with the coaching staff, it’s a great group of men in our organization and I’m extremely happy to be a part of it.

I can’t wait to get training camp started.

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