Arthur Smith on Dante Fowler, Younghoe Koo, and winning at home

Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is seen on the field prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sunday, October 24, 2021. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta Falcons)

FLOWERY BRANCH, GA – With Dante Fowler out for the next two games at least – being on the injured reserve – the Falcons leaned on Ade Ogundeji, who played 71 percent of the Falcons defensive snaps and blocked a field goal in the Falcons win over the Dolphins on Sunday.

Fowler was leading the team with two sacks, two forced fumbles, and 13 total quarterback pressures before the injury.

"We threw a lot of different guys at 'em outside," Smith said. "Ade [Ogundeji] played well [Steven] Means, [Brandon] Cope[land]. There's a lot of ways to do it. That's what it is. That's what life is like in the NFL.

Smith emphasized that nothing is more important to him than the health and safety of guys like Fowler and Kaleb McGary and that with Fowler he will reassess the situation following the Saints game when he could be eligible to return to play against the Dallas Cowboys.


"We got a lot of confidence in Younghoe"

As Younghoe Koo trotted onto the field at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami with the Falcons trailing 27-28 and three seconds remaining in the game, Smith, like many Falcons fans, was not feeling much pressure.

Just three weeks before, Koo nailed his first-ever game-winner just minutes away from where he grew up against the New York Giants, and he has continued to be one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL.

Koo nailed the 36-yard field to win the game with ease. He was celebrating almost as soon as it left his cleat. The game-winning field goal made Koo a perfect 23-for-23 on the season on kicks – making him one of three full-time kickers in the NFL without a miss this season.

"We got a lot of confidence in Younghoe," Smith said. "That's not an easy position to break into this league. Most of the time, those guys get cut… you gotta be tough-minded. A lot of these guys bounce around. Fortunately, Younghoe's here. He's a guy that's improved, and we got a lot of confidence in him. I had all the confidence in the world just like I did in New York that he was gonna smoke that thing in there.

"Give our fans a reason to be excited"

The Falcons currently sit at 3-3, their best start since 2017, when they began with the same record through six games. The next two games come against NFC South rivals with the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.

The Panthers game this Sunday will technically be the Falcons' fourth home game because they served as the home team in London, but their third at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Falcons have lost all three games in front of the home crowd, and Smith knows they need to fix that this Sunday.

"It's almost November, and we need to go down there and give our fans a reason to be excited," Smith said. "It'll be a big weekend around Atlanta. We're hoping to get a couple good Braves wins, and then we could cap it off Sunday afternoon for them."


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