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Transcript: Mike Smith Monday News Conference

Posted Nov 19, 2012

Head coach Mike Smith gave his day-after reaction to Sunday's 23-19 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday during his weekly press conference.

Opening statement:

“I said yesterday I was really proud of the way that our guys battled back. It took all sixty minutes to get the outcome that we wanted. It wasn’t the type of start we wanted obviously, in terms of protecting the football, but we were able to get the outcome we wanted and we’ll move on.”

On the run defense and facing a hot young running back:

“Our run defense yesterday, we gave up two explosive runs, one over fifty yards and one over forty yards, so there was, I think, 94 of their 127 yards on two runs that we misfit. It’s not where we wanted to be. It’s got to be improved, but I think we’re making progress. Some guys made some nice plays. The two explosive runs were definitely something we don’t want to be dealing with. When you misfit it, it gets real ugly and then both of those plays we missed a tackle. One right before the half we felt like we had a chance. We had them backed up inside the five-yard line. We had a chance to use some timeouts and get the ball back to our offense, and we ended up giving up a field goal and then had to turn around in 34 seconds and ended up getting our own field goal. This team that we’re getting ready to face is doing a great job. The rookie running back (Doug Martin) has had some really explosive games. He’s got 1,000 yards already, so it’ll be a challenge for us.”

On running in the ball for the touchdown from the one yard line:

“You got to get back on the horse when you get thrown off of it. We didn’t convert down there the week before and we needed to make sure we got it done this week, and when we had the opportunity that was one of the few good things probably that we did well on offense when you really look at things we did above and below the line. Knocking the ball in our goal-line offense was something we hadn’t been very successful at. It was nice to get that done.”

On the Arizona game being a trap game:

“No. You can’t really concern yourself with the previous game or the next game. You got to really concern yourself about the game you’re getting ready to play. I thought we had a very focused week of practice. The practice week, I thought, was solid and we did not go out and execute. You can’t turn the ball over six times in a football game and win. Statistically, the chances of that happening are two or three percent. In fact, since 2003 there’s been, prior to yesterday, 61 games in which there is a five-or-more turnover advantage to one team and only two times did the team win that was on the wrong side of that ratio. 59-2 since 2003 and we made it 59-3 yesterday, so we were very, very fortunate.”

On injury concerns with WR Julio Jones and CB Asante Samuel:

“I think the injury situation is going to be better than it was last week. We had some guys that were banged up. We have some guys that we are anticipating that did not play in the ballgame last week that were scratched because of injuries will be back participating with us this week. It’ll be good to get some of those guys back.”

On the Arizona defense being the best defense they have seen so far:

“They are a very physical defense. They do a very nice job. We knew they were going to come in blitzing and they showed some stuff that we hadn’t seen. I thought we did a nice job adjusting. I think our pass protection for the most part was pretty good, but that’s one of the top defenses in the NFL.”

On CB Dominique Franks and CB Chris Owens getting more plays yesterday:

“They stepped up when they had their opportunity, and they did a nice job. I think the thing that you feel comfort in is that we didn’t have to change the game plan in terms of what we were going to call. I thought that Chris got extended playing time, Dom had to come in and play for us as well. CB Robert McClain had to move from nickel to left corner, and had some right corner snaps as well. He played all the positions there in the secondary, in terms of the corner and the nickel corner for us, he even had to play in our dime package. It’s nice to see those guys were able to step up. It’ll be a big challenge this week. They’ve got some big receivers. They’ve got a quarterback that’s got a big arm that can throw the ball down the field.”

On CB Asante Samuel’s injury:

“Asante came back in and was able to come back and participate. He didn’t play a whole lot of plays yesterday. I think it was in the low 20’s in terms of the number of snaps. He was in getting treatment this morning, and we will see how he feels on Wednesday before we will be able to give a report. I will say this.  We’re feeling much more confident about guys that were scratches because of health reasons in the ballgame last week.”

On LB Sean Weatherspoon helping the running game when he gets back:

“I think Spoon is a run and hit linebacker. He sits in there in our sub defense at the middle linebacker position and plays outside linebacker in our base package and Sean is one of our best football players. Not only on the defensive side, but on our football team. We’ve missed him and we are looking forward to getting him back. Hopefully it’s sooner than later.”

On this team being able to win and not play their best game:

“That we are very resilient. This is a group of guys that regardless of what happened on the previous play, we put that one behind us and move on to the next one and you just have to keep fighting. It’s amazing the NFL is so close. I think there were three overtime games yesterday. I say this all the time, you just have to keep playing. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s truly snap-to-snap, series-to-series, quarter-to-quarter, week-to-week. It says a lot about the makeup of our guys. There’s a group of guys that you have to rely on and our quarterback is one of them. I thought (QB) Matt (Ryan) did an outstanding job yesterday. He didn’t have things go his way early on, not always his fault when we were turning the ball over, but he was very positive there on the sideline. I don’t think there was ever a doubt in anyone’s mind that we weren’t going to get the outcome that we wanted. We just kept working at it.”

On DT Jonathan Babineaux’s playing until the whistle and scoring a touchdown:

“I think it helps immensely. That is an emphasis point on turnovers since we’ve gotten here and since Mike’s (Nolan) gotten here. The way that we practice when the ball’s on the ground, we want to pick it up and go score or work on scoring and yesterday it was a big play for us. No one really knew what was going on. It seemed like their team obviously didn’t, they had guys running on the field and Babineaux had the wherewithal to pick it up and go get a touchdown, and that doesn’t happen for defensive ends and defensive tackles very often. I was very happy for us to go out there and score on defense.”

On LB Akeem Dent developing with his extended playing time:

“Akeem’s done a very nice job for us. He’s a guy that I think has gotten better and better each week. The snaps that he’s had to take because of Spoon being out have been invaluable for us down the road. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to be a very good football player for us for a long, long time. His role is going to change a little bit in terms of his snaps when Spoon comes back, but the snaps he’s gotten are invaluable. There’s going to be an opportunity where he’s going to have to step in and play again. It may not be this exact role, but something very similar to it.”

On correcting the mis-fits:

“You’ve got to correct it, and you have to make corrections and one of the misfits was an unscouted formation. It was a new formation. We didn’t align properly, and when you don’t align properly you don’t have a good opportunity to be successful. It was something that was really simple and should not have been an issue. We’ve got to be much better at it. You can’t have 90-something yards of the 127 that they run on two runs. We have opportunities to make them 10-yard runs or 7-yard runs and we missed tackles.”

On someone calling a timeout in those situations:

“Absolutely not. You can’t do that. It’s a matter of the defense that’s called whether it’s a seven-man front, whether you got seven guys committed to the run or an eight-man front. You have to make adjustments based on what the front is and how they presented it. We just have to do a much better job guys on these explosive runs. We did a nice job on third down yesterday. Did a nice job defending the pass. We’ve just got to get better at cleaning up some things in our run defense.”

On RB Jacquizz Rodgers getting more snaps than RB Michael Turner showing a shift in playing time:

“No it doesn’t. Guys, again, I think we’ve been very transparent from the very beginning. I’ve been saying this since April that you’re not going to look up at the end of the season and see Michael Turner having 300 carries. That’s not the type of football team we are. We may have been that type of team when we first got here, but we’re a completely different football team and I think our statistics and our ratios define that. We’re going to be an offense that we are going to move the ball around to our different assets and we’ve got a lot of assets. Michael Turner is an asset as well as Jacquizz Rodgers and as well as RB Jason Snelling in our backfield.”

On the NFL changing the policy about throwing the challenge flag on a turnover:

“I don’t think they should reconsider (laughing). I think I ought to not throw the red flag. That’s totally on me. In terms of a coaching mistake, that was a coaching mistake. I can assure you I’ll do everything in my power to make sure it never happens again.”

On the rule making sense:

“Again, I probably don’t need to comment on that simply because you’re talking about officiating and I’m not at the mercy to make those comments.”

On how tough it was on Julio yesterday playing hurt:

“It’s tough for any guy that didn’t take a snap in practice all week long. We got him out there on Saturday, and he was able to walk through with us. It just tells you how tough he is. We knew that we were going to try to get him in somewhere between 30 and 40 plays and we got 35 plays in the ballgame yesterday. He made a big play there in the last 34 seconds before the end of the half in our two minute drive. Had that last completion before we lined up to kick the field goal to get the three points there at the end of the half.”

On DE Jonathan Massaquoi and DE Cliff Matthews getting some snaps:

“They did. I think they were both under ten. You guys can now have access to that information and don’t have to count it up off the tape. I know that you guys have access to that information. Right off the top of my head, I think both of those guys were both under ten snaps. We wanted to give them an opportunity to play. We had a rotation set. It got changed a little bit. One of the series started inside our 20 yard line and we wanted to make sure we had the right guys with the experience to play those series. We were in some short-field situations, and I thought our defense did an outstanding job yesterday. Five out of six times yesterday basically handling the short field situations, or the sudden-change situations as we call them.”

On the short-field situations contributing to DE John Abraham and Babineaux seeing a lot of snaps:

“Correct. We like to have a rotation. We’re not comfortable having guys play on the defensive line 90 percent of the snaps, but yesterday we were put in some-sudden change situations and not only sudden change, but sudden change in the red zone. When you put yourself in those situations, you have to have your best players out there regardless of the rotation. We did switch up our rotation. Those numbers were higher than what they probably will be most of the time.”

On his analysis of the interceptions:

“It’s one of the most unique games, set of circumstances, that I’ve ever gone through as a coach. The batted balls, there were some poor decisions, there were balls going off of receivers hands. It was just one of those games where the ball wasn’t going to bounce our way, and it didn’t bounce our way. We were able to overcome that. Sometimes you’ve got to overcome bad plays. Sometimes you’ve got to overcome bad coaching. Our guys were able to do that.”

On DE Kroy Bierman’s versatility:

“Kroy is a very athletic defensive end. He’s probably undersized in terms of the defensive end position, but he’s taken to this role actually over the last three weeks to be our emergency linebacker in terms of if something were to happen. We only had four active linebackers on our roster so two injuries would’ve put us in a situation where Kroy Bierman would’ve had to play linebacker in an emergency situation for us. There is some carry over. Some of the stuff that he does now and we ask him to do are more of the skillset that a linebacker does than a defensive end. It gives us a lot of flexibility, especially on third down. I think that Mike and his staff did a great job on third down yesterday. I believe they were two for sixteen. I think the first drive of the second half was the only time they converted on third down. They converted on a third and one and a third and five. I think on the third and five we had an opportunity for an interception and didn’t convert that. Kroy is a guy in Mike’s scheme in what we’re asking him to do, it’s a hybrid position. We’re asking him to rush the passer, we’re asking him to cover backs, we’re asking him to cover tight ends, we’re asking him to close the middle of the field. You just don’t know where he’s going to be.”


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