Transcripts: Mike Smith and Tony Gonzalez Interviews

Posted Dec 19, 2012

Head coach Mike Smith and tight end Tony Gonzalez spoke to the media Wednesday about preparations for Saturday's game against the Detroit Lions.

Head coach Mike Smith
On the injury report:

“We had the same three guys yesterday that were out were out again today. We had some guys in limited participation as well. No real change with S William Moore did not practice, DE Cliff Matthews, and WR Roddy White. We had some guys that were limited that we anticipate will be ready to go by the end of the week.”

On getting ready for some backups on the Lions defense:

“This time of year as you get closer to the end of the season that seems to happen more and more. Yesterday, they had to make a roster move in their secondary. They’re a different team than where they were in week one just like we were.”

On WR Calvin Johnson:

“When you put the height, speed, and range that he has, his catching radius is probably as big as anyones, and he creates the mismatch with the height. He’s a guy that runs as fast as anybody. He creates a lot of issues. Most teams when they play them spend a lot of resources trying to slow him down, but they haven’t done a real good job up to this point. He’s on track to break the individual single-season record set by Jerry Rice. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We’ve got to have a good plan. They’re going to move him around and put him in different spots.”

On the importance of scoring defense:

“It’s the most important defensive stat. We talk about it all the time. Much like you can have empty calories eating, you can have empty yards in the game of football. You can give up a lot of yards and if you don’t give up points they don’t really amount to anything. So many times I think people want to talk about the best defenses are the ones that give up the fewest yards, it’s really all about points and our guys have done a very nice job this year. We’re starting to trend in the right direction at the right time.”

On the key in having a lower scoring percentage:

“I think the thing that you have to be able to do to keep people out of the end zone is you have to win the turnover battle. We started the season very good at that and then we kind of had a lull. We’re starting to get back getting the opportunities to take the ball away. When you have those fourth down situations that we had last week, those are basically turnovers if you stop them you keep points off the board. Those are the things you have to be able to do to keep your scoring average down.”

On having the offensive line together for so long:

“They’ve done a very nice job for us. The offensive line, probably of any position group, is a group that you have to try and keep together if you can. You have rotations at most other positions, and the offensive line that truly is a unit. They have to be seeing things out of the same set of eyes on every snap because things change very quickly. With Todd (McClure) at center, he’s got to be the guy that directs the band so to speak and he does a very good job for us.”

On T Sam Baker:

“Sam’s shown a lot of resiliency since he’s been here his first four seasons. He’s had a lot of injuries, and he’s fought threw them. Some of the injuries were public and some of the injuries weren’t as well known, but he’s a guy that’s shown a lot of resiliency playing his best football this year. He’s been as healthy as he’s ever been. He spent a whole lot of time in the offseason working on getting his body feeling right. He had some things that he had to really work on and he did a really nice job. It’s paid off for him. He’s protecting our backs very well.”

Tight End Tony Gonzalez
On how much players are focusing on getting home field advantage with a win:

“It’s definitely part of our focus that we control our destiny this weekend where we can get home field throughout the playoffs. It’s going to be tough. Watching them on film, they’re playing their butts off. They’re high energy. They’re very good at home. We obviously went up last year and snuck one out, so we’re up for the challenge though. I’m kind of anxious to see how we respond after last week because we played really well in all three phases. That’s the type of effort we’re going to have to have this week and throughout the rest of the season and all through the playoffs.”

On avoiding a letdown:

“That’s what I’m kind of anxious to find out how we respond to as well. I think judging from what we did yesterday at practice and the focus around here, this is that time. This is what you work so hard in the offseason for. This is what you work so hard during the regular season, and what we’ve done up to this point is we’ve put ourselves in a great position. As far as I’m concerned and what I’ve been telling my teammates and what Coach has been telling us, let’s go out and finish the job. Let’s keep the momentum that we have and see how we come out against a really good football team in Detroit.”

On the offensive line:

“Linemen in general are the weirdest group of guys you could ever see. Our guys, I’m so happy with the way they’ve played this year. The things that have gone on around here the last three years seems like they get blamed for a lot, but this year they’ve played outstanding football for us. They’ve stepped up big. That’s the key. If you keep Matt (Ryan) up on his feet he’s going to be able to make some plays. They’ve done a good job of that.”

On T Sam Baker:

“He’s probably the one I’m most happy about because we’ve got that Southern California thing in common. He’s hitting his potential as a player, and he’s going to get even better. For whatever reason, he’s turned it around this year and just become one of the really good left tackles in the League. It couldn’t have happened for a better guy, so I’m happy for him.”

On carrying the momentum from last week but putting it out of your mind:

“It’s pretty easy actually. You look at the tape and you move on. As far as I’m concerned, and I guess I’ve been around a while, you can’t dwell on the past. You need to learn and we set the standard last week of what we can do against a really good football team. We got to make sure we duplicate that week in and week out throughout the rest of the season. It starts during the week of preparation. Make no mistake about it. That’s where it starts. That’s where it started last week going into that Giants game. Our focus going into that game was the best it’s been all year. We have to have that type of effort week in and week out for the rest of the season. That’s what good teams do in December, it’s what they do in the playoffs, and ultimately Super Bowl Championship teams. They have great focus throughout the week because that’s what helps you win the game.”

On keeping grounded:

“You just keep telling them like I’ve said that we’ve been working hard during the offseason, during the regular season, this is not the time to go cool, not the time that you think you’ve arrived. This should be the worst time to have that attitude because we have our goals. I’ve been telling you about our goals since the beginning. This is what we’ve been working on. This is the type of team that we have and we got to make sure that we go to the playoffs and keep that same type of momentum up. That’s what it’s going to take. There is no other way around it. You can’t just show up and think you’re going to beat a team. Maybe we learned that against Carolina. Maybe that loss was something good for us. It’s something that I think we learn from our mistakes and we keep moving forward.”

On what has happened to the Lions this year:

“I have no idea. I couldn’t tell you. I’m focused on the Falcons. On film though, what I’ve seen on defense is they’ve got players, they’ve got talent, and they play hard. Gunther Cunningham, I had him for a long time out in Kansas City, and I’m not surprised. These guys are going to show up and they’re going to play hard in that home crowd. I bet they’re going to be ready for us.”

On the difference between this year’s team and two years ago:

“Those players on defense are a lot better than they were a couple years ago. S Thomas DeCoud, S William Moore, LB Sean Weatherspoon, and then you’ve got guys still playing at a high level like DT Jonathan Babineaux, DE John Abraham, CB Asante Samuel’s a big help for us from an emotional standpoint as well as on the field. Things are just clicking on that side of the ball. Mike Nolan, maybe it’s a different scheme, I don’t know what it is, but really from a talent standpoint. That’s the biggest difference.”

On CB Asante Samuel:

“He doesn’t shut up. I’ll tell you that and he’s going to let you know what’s on his mind. That’s a good thing. That’s a real good thing because he does it in a positive way. He’s always challenging us on offense while we’re going and he’s supposed to be over there sitting down taking a knee, he’s over there hyping us up trying to tell us ‘that play won’t work or this play will work, put this play in.’ Especially messing with Dirk (Koetter), always messing with Dirk. He’s fun and like I said , we need that type of attitude in the locker room. I think it’s great. It gives our defense some swag about them and they go out there and play like it.”

On WR Calvin Johnson about to break the record:

“That’s unbelievable. He’s a freak. I remember the first time I saw Calvin out at the Pro Bowl, obviously I had seen him all throughout the season with his highlights, but when I was standing next to him I didn’t know who it was at first. I thought it was a defensive end, honestly. That’s how big he is. They’re saying that guy runs a 4.3. He’s a freak. What he’s done judging by his talents I’m not too surprised. If anybody is going to break Jerry Rice’s record it’s him. It’s always a matchup. You just throw the ball up in the air and he’s going to make the play. It’s a good weapon for them.”

On having many difference options on offense:

“That’s part of this offense. Why I think what we strive to be. Like that PUYP (pick your poison) offense. It’s always a matchup for us and we try and make that matchup in our favor. For them, they have more than one player though. TE Brandon Pettigrew is a pretty good tight end out there and they’ve got some other options. The defense will be ready.”

On the memories of playing up their last year:

“I remember it being a tough environment and them playing extremely hard. That’s what I said. We’re going to be ready for that. We can’t go in there and think we can show up. Their record goes out the window. Everybody that plays us we have a big target on our chest because we’re one of the best teams in the NFL and why wouldn’t they? I know if I was on their side of the ball I would come in here and say ‘let’s come in here and see how we stack up against this team that’s going to the playoffs and coming off that big of win against the Giants.’ They’re going to be ready. There’s no doubt about it and we got to make sure that we match their emotion and match their enthusiasm and come out there and play the game like we can play.”

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