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Transcript: Mike Smith Press Conference

Posted Nov 11, 2013

Head coach Mike Smith held his weekly press conference on Monday, Nov. 11.

Head coach Mike Smith
Opening Statement:

“As I stated yesterday after the ballgame, we didn’t do anything well enough in any phase to win.  That was obvious.”

On the running game:

“Well, we were not very effective running the football.  A couple of our opportunities to run it, we never got a chance to get it going.  There were some individuals, individual blocks and combination blocks that were executed very well.  There were some blocks that were not executed very well on the same play, and as a unit you’ve got to hit on all your blocks if you’re going to have a chance to have a successful running play.  We had one explosive run, and only three explosive plays in the ballgame.  We’ve got to be more efficient running.  As I mentioned last week, running at the point of attack, we’ve got to be good and then we’ve got to do a good job of getting guys on the ground on the backside.  When you have an eighth element in the box, which they did yesterday, there is going to be a free hitter and the back is going to have to account for him.  We did not give our running backs a chance on many of the rushing attempts.  We were down, in our first possession in the second half, 26-3, and at that point in time, basically your run game goes out the window.  We do have to do a much better job of running the football.”

On the status of Matt Ryan:

“Matt’s ok.  We didn’t protect as well as we needed to in the ballgame yesterday.  Like any ballgame, I say this all the time not to be repeating myself, there are throws we would like to have back, calls we would like to have back.  In the first half we were 1 of 7 on third down.  That contributed a lot to the way the game went there in the first half.  We were in some manageable situations if I’m not mistaken, we had two third and fours, a third and three and a third and one, that we did not convert on in the first half, so we weren’t able to keep drives alive.  We’ve got to be much better on third down.    We did not convert on a third and ten, and I believe we scrambled on a third and nine there in the first half.”

On competition between games:

“Again, our number one goal each and every week is to win the football game.  We’ve got to do that.  As I said yesterday, we owe that to our team, our fans, everyone associated with the Atlanta Falcons.  This season is not over.  I know people want to say doom and gloom. That is not the case.  We’ve not played the type of football that we would like to play in the first nine games.  It is well below our expectations and we are going to continue to work and get ready to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I don’t think anytime do you want to not try to win the football game, but we will take a good hard look and have competition in practice and the person that wins the competition in practice will have the opportunity to play in the football game. We’re not just going to make wholesale changes and say we’re going to play this guy because of what our record is at this point in time.”

On Snelling and Rodgers getting more carries to compliment Steven Jackson:

“Well, we didn’t get Steven going yesterday.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities. There were times, it just so happened when his number was called; the blocking wasn’t what it needed to be.  He was hit in the backfield and never really got an opportunity to get him going.  I think that we have a compliment of backs in three guys that can do things, but I know that Steven is a guy that is stronger as the game goes on.  Unfortunately, in the last three weeks, the game has gotten so far out of hand coming out after halftime, we’ve had to basically ditch the run and start throwing the football.  We haven’t had an opportunity to concentrate on running the football for sixty minutes.  It’s like we’re playing a 30 minute game when it comes to the run game.”

On corrections you can make week to week or evaluate at the end of the year:

“You’ve got to address the problems each and every week.  That is very important.  We try to make corrections and then we move on, and we hope that those corrections stick.  Each game has a different dynamic.  You’re playing different teams; there are different match ups, so you start to concern yourself looking forward in that area.  It is our job as coaches to get those things corrected.   We did have too many mental errors in the game offensively.  Unfortunately, some of the mental errors happened at critical times in situations where you want to make sure you are on top of your game.  For example, third down there were a couple of times we had some mental errors that didn’t give us an opportunity to convert.”

On fighting hard during the double pass:

“You’ve got to be resilient during the game of football.  There are going to be plays that happen.  I will say this, in yesterday’s game there were entirely too many explosive plays.  I’m sure someone will look it up, but I believe there were 12 plays for 296 yards.  When you give up 296 yards in 12 plays, it’s not acceptable.  The specific play you are talking about, it basically was a two play drive.  We miss leverage on a quick screen, had a miss tackle, didn’t tackle the ball carrier, and then we had the trick play which was a shot area.  They were going to take shots; most teams do on the third down plus side of the 50.  We were close in position to make the play; we just didn’t make the play.   We’ve got to make the plays; it wasn’t like it was a blown coverage.  Their eyes were where they were supposed to be, just didn’t make the play at the point where they needed to make the play there in the end zone.”

On William Moore’s play:

“Am I concerned about William’s play?  William is a very aggressive player.  We talk to him all the time about lowering the point of contact.  Try to hit in the strike zone.  He is a very aggressive football player.  There are a lot of plays that are bang-bang plays out there on the field.  That was a play in which he was breaking on the football.  If we take the view of not making sure were hitting in the strike zone, then we will take that out of the judgment calls the official makes.  Often times, which is a judgment call, in terms of those bang-bang plays.  We’ve just got to continue to work on it.  William, obviously, is one of our most aggressive defensive football players.  It was a penalty, let’s make that clear.  The official threw the flag, it was a penalty, but I think like all penalties there is some judgment in it.”

On William Moore being labeled a dirty player:

“Absolutely not, William Moore is not a dirty football player.  He doesn’t go out targeting players; he plays the game very aggressively.  We need to continue to work on his targets.  What I mean by targets, is targeting the strike zone.  That is what we teach and that is what we coach here, above the knee and below the shoulders.  If you see what you hit, then you will not use the crown of the helmet.  Sometimes those crown of the helmet is unavoidable.  When players go lower, it is unavoidable, unfortunately.  It is a good rule, where you always talk about player’s safety.  Safety is first and foremost, that comes down from the very top up there in New York.”

On Robert Alford and Robert McClain roles in the game:

“It was based on a number of factors.  It was based on down and distance.  Sometimes it was based on the personnel they put in.  They had different tendencies based on what wide receivers were in the football game.  We had two different sub groups.”

On that being something they will continue to do:

“It depends on how people present the formation.  We felt like it was beneficial to us to have Robert in there in certain situations, when we felt less certain on what could potentially happen.  It was better for us to have Robert Alford in there in a different situation.”

On Roddy White’s first game back:

“We had Roddy in a range of snaps.  I believe Roddy played 55 snaps yesterday.  I think that is what we had him at, I don’t’ know if the stats you get are as accurate as ours, but he played 55 snaps in the game yesterday.  He got winded in one drive, we felt like, but we were monitoring that throughout the game.  It was good to see him back out there.  I thought he came real close to busting that pass early in the game, I believe in the second drive.  He almost split the safeties there and was very close to taking that for a long play.”

On that being something that will carry over to this week:

“I think we need to start talking about 55 plays.  An average game is usually somewhere between 65 and 70.  I think Roddy will play as many plays as we can possibly get him.  That was on the upper limit by the way in terms of the number of snaps that we anticipated him playing.”

On any update on Tony Gonzalez:

“I don’t have an update right now with Tony.  Tony did leave the game for a couple of snaps, he was able to come back and play.  Tony is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around in terms of his pain tolerance and he was able to go back out there and play.  We taped him up and got him back out there.  I will have a whole lot more information for you on Wednesday.”

On everything holding up well with Roddy besides getting winded:

“Yes.  Roddy’s had no ill effects from playing 55 snaps and going at game speed, so that is a positive.”

On doubting the effort of the team:

“I think that the effort was there.  The guys played hard.  I think that we didn’t win the physical battle.  The physicality they won that handedly.   There were too many yards after contact in the running game.  We did not do a good job in terms of limiting their YAC yards, which is yards after contact.  I felt like they won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.  That is where games are won and lost.  When you start to give up the explosive plays we gave up, not being able to convert on third down, it turns it into a game that you’re not real happy about as a coach, a player and a fan.”

On giving up a lot of running yards and whether Seattle made changes schematically:

“Yes, they did.  They did a very good job.  They changed some things up.  They had lost Bryant, so they did some things schematically that were different in terms of what they were asking the replacement to do.  They did bring some run stunts, which they had not done, and I think that was obvious when we had a couple of plays that didn’t get started and there were hits in the backfield.”

On worrying about Sam Baker’s long-term future:

“Well, Sam has been dealing with his knee all season long.  He is fighting through it.  We got him back out there after four or five week time period after allowing him to rest.  He wasn’t ready to go this week.  Yes, is it a concern when you can’t go out and play consecutive games.  You have to be concerned about it.  Sam is doing everything that he can in terms of getting back out there.  We want to make sure he is 100% before we put him back out on the football field.”

On Sean Weatherspoon and the potential roster move:

“That move will be made in the next 48 hours procedurally.  I don’t know the exact technical term, but you know, he is eligible to play in the ballgame this week.  He was eligible to start practice last week.  We were working on his conditioning more than anything last week.  He did take some reps at scout team, so he was a scout team player last week, so he will be practicing on Wednesday with us, when he comes back up, there will be a roster move that has to be made to get us down to get us down to 53.  We had an exemption last week to have him available for practice only.”

On how big of a help it will be to have him back:

“It will be a big help to our defense.  Sean through his play, since he has been here, he has earned a leadership role.  He is one of our best players.  He’s got a great attitude.  He is a guy that can inspire his teammates, so it will be good to have him back out there on the field.  I think we did a good thing by working him in scout team last week and working on his conditioning.  It will be good to get him back out.”

On him not being surprised by Weatherspoon giving a speech to the defense:

“It doesn’t surprise me one bit.  When we were doing our due diligence way back, watching Sean participate in the Senior Bowl, you could see what kind of passion he has for the game.  He has done that many times here with the Atlanta Falcons.  He is a very passionate guy.  He is a no-nonsense guy. He is very positive, and he was not very pleased with the performance of his teammates there in the first half and took it upon himself to talk to them.  That is what a leader does.”

On the difficult decision when Sean goes back in, who comes out:

“The two young guys have played very well.  I don’t think it would be to my advantage or our advantage to talk about who is going to be playing where this weekend.  We pretty much have a good idea of how it is going to go, if he can make it through the couple of practices this week, which we anticipate he will, but we’ve got some young guys who have stepped up so it gives us a number of options.”

On it being an advantage that Tampa Bay has a short week:

“Yes, it is an advantage, of course having one extra day.  That was a very physical football team that we played on Sunday.  Their record indicates that they are one of the better football teams in the League, and they are one of the more physical football teams, so we’ve got some guys that are banged up.  This morning in the training room, they were full tables.  We should be able to get them back, but it should be an advantage for us to get an extra days work.”