Q: How do you choose what type of cleat you are going to wear? Is there a certain spike depending on what the field feels like?
A: "No really we rely on the equipment guys and the coaches to let us know what to wear shoe-wise. We go out there, usually before the game starts, run around and test it to see if we need long cleats, short cleats or turf shoes. We do it that way."
Q: What type environment do you like playing in?
A: "I like grass, but I like the inside, I like our Dome. I'm just not a big fan of the cold, or rain, or any of the elements. Only the sun I like (laughs), so I'm kind of picky."
Q: Have you been out to San Francisco before?
A: "No, I have never been."
Q: I guess you're in a good division with Carolina and Tampa being grass…
A: "I definitely love the fields in Tampa and Carolina. Baltimore is not bad either."
Q: The running game hasn't produced the numbers yet, but only three games in. Does anything stick out in your mind that teams are doing to focus on you guys or is it things you all are doing?
A: "I think that it is both, but I would say it is more us as well. We watched the tape today, and it's a bye week so we have nothing to do but evaluate ourselves. We've seen so many yards left on the field from the o-line, from the running backs, from even the wide receivers standpoint in blocking. We know we can get better and get back to where we were last year, and we still feel that we're one of the best running (teams) in the league, we just have to start playing like it."
Q: Is it like you were just so comfortable with it last year that you came in this year not taking it for granted, but just thinking we can run the ball after last season. Is that some of the reason for it?
A: " Actually I think we might be trying to hard. Last year it was more relaxed, it was us against the world and we didn't have anybody to really worry about. This year we knew that we had expectations. We knew that Michael, especially being that Pro Bowl running back coming back, we want to have a huge 200- or 300-yard game every game, but it's not going to happen that way. Teams know that that's our strength and they're going to try to do whatever they can to negate that."
Q: Are they trying to focus on the run more this year, stacking the box?
A: " Definitely, even with Tony Gonzalez they still know Devonta Freeman is going to be a huge threat to them. So we have the box filled every time with guys blitzing, DBs and linebackers to try to stop it. But, we just have to get back to our fundamentals and doing what we do best and it will be fine."
Wide Receiver Julio Jones
Q: Where do you think you guys are offensively?
A: "I think that we are OK. I felt like some of the plays we ran we just missed them We left a lot of the big plays on the field. We just have to get better at timing and I think that's the biggest thing we have. We are going to get more opportunities to make plays out there and I just think that we have to make them. Instead of here and there we miss or here and there we get penalties and things like that. We just have to make the play when the play is there."
Q: Do you notice defenses approaching you any differently this year?
A: "They're looking at film so they know a lot of stuff that we do. It isn't up to them, but it is up to us to execute the play out. I feel like there are 10 people doing there job and one guy's not doing his job, or 9 people doing there job and a lot of the time we are just not on the same page. I think that we all have to get on the same page and make the play to be successful. That's all it takes -- is execution -- to make plays successful."
Q: The margin for error in this league is slim…
A: " Yes, in this league it is hard out there. It's hard just to go anywhere and get a win in this league. You've got to prepare mentally and then when you get opportunities to do things out there you have to convert."
Q: Is there any advantage to having the bye week so early?
A: "Yeah, you get to fix the stuff you messed up on in the first three games. You get to correct them and it is a good time for us to work on third downs and things like that and our deep passing game during our bye week. So when we start these next 13 weeks we will be hitting on all cylinders."
Q: Not that training camp isn't tough, because it is tough, and not that the first three games weren't tough, but with the bye coming later in the year it allows you to rest your body. What are you going to do during the bye week?
A: " I am just going to relax and get my mind ready. We are going to have a 13-week grind and you've got to get yourself mentally prepared for that and physically prepared. You got to rest and not go on vacations and do things that you're not supposed to be doing. That's what I am going to be doing, staying at my house and getting my mind set."
Quarterback Matt Ryan
Q: It's only your second year, but is it kind of bizarre having the bye week so early in the season for you guys?
A: "Yeah it is early, no question about it. But, it gives us a good chance to get some rest at this point and get ready for the stretch of the season. We have thirteen in a row for the regular season and we have a chance to get rested at this point."
Q: Were you watching on Monday Night Football when they threw a flag on Muhsin Muhammad like they did on Michael Jenkins Sunday? Do you think they're calling that a lot more this season and watching it closer?
A: " I didn't catch the clip on (Muhammad) on Monday night. They're going to call it how they see it and you have to respect that. Being an official in the NFL is not an easy thing to do, it's a tough job and guys in our league do a great job."
Q: It seems like this season fourth down attempts are up, not only here but across the league. What do you think about that and how do you feel when you get the call to do that?A: "You are excited as a quarterback and you want to keep that drive going. I think that Smitty has done a great job here of having a feel for when is a good time to do it. As an offense you have to respect his decision and I think he does a great job with it."
Q: Yeah, but with you guys more often than not are going to say, 'Hey give us a shot…'
A: "I mean as an offense you are always going to say that we can get it, we can get it done. It is good to have that confidence, but you have to trust that the big guy knows best."
Q: Is there any concern that the running game has not really got going this year, with the lack of production and not doing what you did last year?A: "Yeah, I don't think that there is any concern. I think that we've done a pretty good job with it. Defenses are obviously bringing more guys down into the box. But, I have said from the beginning that it doesn't matter how we get it done offensively, we have to go out there and get it done and we just didn't do that this past Sunday. So,it doesn't matter if we run it or throw it, we just have to put up more points than they do."
Q: Do you think that the passing game will open up more as the season goes along?
A: " I think that it works both ways. I think that a solid run game helps the pass game and a solid pass game helps the run game. For the most part we've been fairly balanced, but like I said we're going to do whatever it takes to win."
MORE FROM THE BYE WEEK:
NOTEBOOK:Weems getting credit for success * TRANSCRIPT:Head Coach Mike Smith talks about the bye week * QUOTABLE:Players talk about the bye week plans * BEAT BLOG:What They're Saying | Three-and-Out * J. MIKE'S MISSIVES:Thoughts on the bye from J. Michael Moore * VIDEO:Head Coach Mike Smith | Ryan | Mughelli | White * COMMUNITY:Area YMCA renamed for Falcons Owner and CEO