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Transcript: Mike Smith Monday News Conference

Posted Oct 29, 2012

Head coach Mike Smith met with the Atlanta media Monday to give his assessment of Sunday's 30-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles

Opening statement:

“As I stated yesterday, I thought we started really fast in all three phases. It was nice to have a sixteen play drive to start the game, and then defensively, to go out and have a three and out and have a very solid punt return where we flipped the field position and had the ball on the plus side of the 50 or thereabouts and go in and score again. And score on your six first possessions is the way you want to start the game. Guys, played against a very good football team yesterday. That team is one of the more talented teams in the National Football League on both sides of the ball. I thought the coaches did a great job with their game planning and the players went out and executed.”

On LB Sean Weatherspoon’s injury:

“He did not return and Sean is in the training room, and we’ll have a more concrete idea of where he’s at after practice (Wednesday). He did sustain an ankle injury in the ball game and (WR) Kevin Cone also sustained an injury in the ball game yesterday, as well. We’ll have an update on those guys and (WR) Harry Douglas Wednesday after practice.”

On performing in bad weather yesterday:

“The weather was through the first half of the game was relatively easy to deal with. There was no precipitation to speak of. It was windy. The conditions were windy and it was gusting, but there in the second half it did get a little tough. I thought our guys handled it extremely well. I thought it was a well-played game in terms of turnovers. There were no turnovers in the ball game. That was one of the things we didn’t do well defensively is we did not force any turnovers. We handled the weather conditions, and I don’t think we’re a dome team. I think we’ve got some mudders on our team that can go out and play in the elements as well.”

On the offensive line play against the Eagles:

“I thought the offensive line did a nice job. There were two credited sacks. One was in a four minute situation where we told our quarterback if the route wasn’t there to go ahead and take a knee. We’ll let the clock spin down. That’s what we were trying to get done. We were just trying to run time off of the clock. The other one in the red zone was probably more schematically than anything. They covered the route well and we had to tweak the protection and we didn’t have a check down. I thought they did a nice job not only protecting the quarterback but also a nice job of run blocking. We got the run game going.”

On OG Peter Konz being ready:

“Well, it was a situation where (OG) Garrett Reynolds had been dealing with a back issue and had been limited in practice. You know how backs can go. One minute you can feel good and the next minute you’re feeling poorly. Peter took the majority of snaps during the week and we felt like it was time to give him the opportunity to go in there and play. I was asked yesterday after the game how Peter played. After viewing the film, I thought he had a very solid game. It was a situation where you’re a rookie and you’re playing your first game and you’re playing against a defensive line that’s very talented. Cullen Jenkins is the starter, but they rotated guys and had different guys lining up against him and I thought Peter handled it extremely well.”

On whether Konz will continue to start:

“I think that it’ll be a determined as we go through this week. I know this, we’ve got a guy that can go in and play in a big ball game that’s a rookie. That’s a positive thing.”

On being 7-0:

“You may not believe this, but you’re on a week-to-week cycle in the National Football League. It really doesn’t matter what happened the week before. It’s all about the next game. That’s how you have to approach it. We’ve been fortunate to have a very successful season and played some efficient football. We’ve made some mistakes, so I’ve tried to not even think in those terms. It’s no different whether you’re 3-3, 4-3, 6-1, 7-0. Everybody else is going to concern themselves with it. We’ve got to make sure we’re preparing for the next game.”

On the three tackles playing together in some situations:

“In the Bye week, you look at a lot of different combinations and we had an opportunity to put some things up on the board. Get some dust so to speak in the bottom of the chalk board and put different things together and look at different combinations. We went into this game with a little different strategy and I thought that it helped us in our run defense.”

On CB Robert McClain playing in 90 percent of the snaps:

“It was a game plan thing and Robert’s been playing good football for us. First and foremost, when we’re going to determine what personnel we put out, that’s the game plan decision. We wanted to match or sub against certain personnel groupings. There were only two personnel groupings we weren’t going to play in our sub defense. I thought Robert did a nice job. He’s been very solid for us in the nickel corner, the inside corner.”

On taking the crowd out of the game early:

“Very big plus. It was not nearly as loud. We anticipated it being very loud. We knew that if we could start fast we could potentially take the crowd out. You want to do that every time you go out on the road. I think this game more than any became very apparent that we had kind of negated their home field advantage in terms of the crowd. It got very quiet really after the first two series I don’t think we had any issues with having to go to a silent count. We were able to communicate most of the day.”

On the fans being loud this Sunday night against the Cowboys:

“I have no doubt that about 8:15, 8:20 P.M. it’s going to be rocking at the Dome this week. Our fans are the best in the National Football League, and we’re going to need it because we need to get some procedural penalties and they’re the reason we get those is the crowd noise.”

On why WR Julio Jones always has big games on the road:

“No, I don’t believe so. I think it’s basically how teams are trying to defend us. I don’t think it has anything to do with home or away. We knew we were going to get some one-on-one matchups with the type of defense that the Eagles played, and when we got those matchups we were going to have opportunities. It’s a great hookup with Matt and Julio on the nine route on the left side and then we had a nice hookup on a quick screen, and Roddy White threw an outstanding block. A legal block and I thought the officials did a nice job picking up the flag.”

On taking it slow with DT Corey Peters yesterday:

“Yes we did. We felt like we had a 15 to 25 snap pitch count and he played 20 snaps in the ball game yesterday. That was good to get Corey Peters back. He gives us some flexibility in terms of moving guys around on our defensive line. Not necessarily always playing left and right. It gives us some flexibility and helps us in our rotation.”

On DE Kroy Bierman playing well yesterday:

“That’s a very good observation, in fact Kroy Bierman got our defensive game ball. (WR) Drew Davis got our offensive game ball. That’s great for Drew as well. I thought Kroy had a great game. We had him playing a number of different roles, and I thought he got good pressure on the quarterback. He had one sack and he had an opportunity for another and he chased the quarterback out of the pocket one time and he gained two yards on a pass play so it ended up not being a registered sack, but it ended up being a heck of a play.”

On RB Jacquizz Rodgers playing well yesterday:

“Jacquizz had a very good game. That was an outstanding run, I think it was a 32-yard run. He did a very nice job of eluding tacklers. It was blocked well at the first level and then we he got to the second level he made some people miss. He had a couple catches. One got called back, but he had a number of catches that helped us. I thought Jason Snelling made some plays, scored the touchdown. If you would’ve told me going into the game our first two touchdowns were going to be scored by Drew Davis and Jason Snelling then I would take that wager. That just speaks volumes of the depth we have on our football team. We’ve got a lot of guys that understand what their roles are and their roles are ever- changing. When they get an opportunity they have to take advantage of it and they’ve done that. It was nice to see Drew Davis come in and play like he did in his first significant amount of time playing on offense.”

On LB Akeem Dent getting limited snaps yesterday:

“Different packages, yes. We were in our sub package the majority of the game. That’s the good thing about our locker room. We’ve got a great locker room. We don’t have eleven starters. I’ve said that from the very beginning. We are going to be very multiple in what we do on all sides of the ball, including special teams. It’s going to be dictated in how we defend people or how we attack people  how they’re trying to attack us and it becomes a chess game.”

On being a deep football team makes your fresher in the fourth quarter:

“Most definitely. We probably had a couple of guys looking back and that’s something we always evaluate is the snap count. We had a couple of guys that got too many snaps, and we’ll adjust those as we move forward. We go in, believe it or not, and we have an idea if we get certain personnel groupings, this is how many we’d like to have this guy get and we want to have guys as fresh as we possibly can in the fourth quarter, because the majority of the time games are going to come down to the fourth quarter. Again, I think yesterday, five of the 12 games played were decided by eight points or less. Eight points is one series. That’s one play and a two point conversion.”

On DE John Abraham being more consistent this year:

“I don’t know if he’s more consistent. I know he’s had some more production through the first seven games than he did last year. I think John is on a mission to be a very effective pass rusher. I think he’s doing that. He’s done a nice job. We try, again, to monitor his snaps and it’s not necessarily when we talk about monitoring our players for snaps. It’s not for the specific game. It’s for the entire season. We’ve got to focus on the game and win the game, but we’ve also got to focus on the entirety of the season. We want our guys to be as fresh as they possibly can be when we get into November and December and when you have to be playing your best football.”

On the run defense:

“Best performance of the season. I thought we were tackling much more crisply. Our angles to the ball, our pursuit angles were much better. That’s a function of our off week as we mentioned, going back and talking about Monday of last week. It was Falcons-on-Falcons and it was very remedial that practice. We wanted to get back and break down football into its simplest form. It basically comes down to blocking and tackling and that’s what we worked on in that Monday practice. We spent a whole lot of time breaking down the different components of the different types of tackles and different types of blocks. I thought our coaching staff did a nice job on our Monday practice during the Bye week. It was probably forty five minutes of just remedial, eighth grade (laughing) football. Sometimes we need to get back and do that. I thought our guys did a great job and they responded to it fantastically in the ball game. Sometimes you can’t see the forest because of the trees and we needed to step back and work on some fundamentals on our Bye week.”

On what you worked on:

“We don’t bring guys to the ground. We work on the approach, the fit, where your eyes should be. Things like that. Getting the feel for the combination blocks, staying on him, who is going to go up to the second level, who is going to stay on the first level blocks. We’ve got to put our eyes forward now. We’re close to the 24-hour rule and we’ve got a good football team coming in. Defensively, they played outstanding in the ball game yesterday. They turned the ball over offensively and their defense was able to keep the game close. Their offense came back. To come back from the deficit they came back is amazing. That’s a darn good football team. We said this was the best defense this past week we’ve faced, thus far. I think this defense is even better. They’ve got some cover corners that can cover. They’ve got a very strong front and they have a guy that comes off the edge that can rush the passer, so it’s going to create some issues. They’ve got a tight end and a wide receiver that are going to create some sleepless nights for our defensive staff, as well. They do some really good things, and yet they can put some guys out there that can rush the football.”

On the trade deadline:

“In fact, I just came out of a meeting and I believe it’s moved again because of the hurricane. I think they moved it back a day to allow it to happen. Again, our focus and my focus is strictly on our preparation in terms of getting ready for the next game. I’m not sure how much activity is going to be across the League. That’s something I really don’t focus on, but I know it is coming up.”

On Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan:

“Believe it or not, Rob, myself, and Rex all at one time were all in the same conference coaching college football. I’ve known Rob and Rex and we all coached in the Ohio Valley conference. They were some battles. Rob’s a darn good football coach. Got a great defensive mind. They’re going to base it out of the 3-4. It’s going to be very multiple. Yes, there is tinges of what Rob does is very similar to what Rex does. Rob’s done an outstanding job with the defense there in Dallas. Statistically, year in and year out they’re going to be at the top of the League. He’s a darn good football coach.”

On the young players getting more confidence every game:

“I think our younger players with the more experience and the more plays that they play they get more confident. I really have to say our guys, and when I say our guys, the core group of guys that are the leaders in the locker room they work with the younger players and they talk to them about their experiences. I’ve said it many times and I’m going to say it again, I know it’s about winning on Sunday, but you win first in the locker room. You’ve got to have a good locker room. You’ve got to have a good team. You’ve got to have guys that like to have fun, because if you don’t have fun in a long day and there’s a lot of long days, it gets tough. These guys know when to snap in and when to snap out. When it’s time to go to work they go to work. For some of the things we do and how much fun we have, you might question about our maturity, but I don’t have any doubt how mature we are. When it’s time to play football and that ball is snapped and that ball is kicked off we’re ready to go.”

On the ceiling being high for QB Matt Ryan:

“Matt’s having an outstanding season and he played very well yesterday. It may not have been his best statistical game in terms of number of yards passed for the season. He ran the offense as about as well as it could be run. I thought there was probably one throw early in the game that he would’ve liked to have had back. It was really the first throw of the game, but Matt is running the offense extremely well. He works great with Dirk (Koetter), he works great with Glenn Thomas. They have a great relationship. Again, we want it to be collaborative and Matt’s been a part of us putting this offense together from the very beginning. There are a lot of things that we are doing the same as years past, but there are lot of things we’re doing different. The way that we’re compartmentalizing. The way we’re putting things together is somewhat different, but he’s done an outstanding job thus far through the first seven games of the season."