Transcript: Mike Smith Monday news conference


Falcons head coach talks about the progression of William Moore, how the offensive line has improved and what it has meant to have Michael Jenkins back healthy during his Monday news conference with the Atlanta media

Opening Statement:

"After watching the tape I thought that we played good football in spurts yesterday. As I said, I think all three phases did some really good things. We are looking for more consistency in everything that we're doing. I don't want to understate how hard it is to win on the road and that was a very good team with a four and one record coming into the game and they play very efficiently at home. They're a good football team. They're well coached. We were fortunate to get the win. A couple of things that stand out that we definitely have to address, one is our red zone, we want to make sure that we score touchdowns when we get in the red zone. We moved the ball effectively in our no-huddle offense and we would like to finish those drives off with touchdowns instead of field goals. Before I take questions, I just want to talk a little bit about the upcoming game and how important it is for our fans to get out there. We want it to be like Thursday night, it was a big advantage for us as a football team to have the fans in the stands rocking and rolling. It should be a good game. The Green Bay Packers are on a roll, they're playing good football and it ought to be an exciting afternoon. We hope that everybody will come and help us out."

On WR Michael Jenkins' role in the offense and his play:

"Michael missed the early part of the season with a shoulder injury that took a little bit longer to get back, but I think he's starting to really find his stride. He made some big catches yesterday on third down which allowed us to continue drives and of course win the time of possession. Michael has a very good skill set with his height and creates some mismatches. I really like the way he's played and I thought he did a good job in run blocking as well."

On Jenkins' precise route-running:

"There are certain routes that Michael runs extremely well. I think there's a comfort level and I thought Michael had great concentration because there were some balls where he was coming over the middle yesterday that he had to concentrate because he knew there were guys closing on him."

On whether he believes the offensive line has performed better lately:

"I thought they kept QB Matt (Ryan) very clean. I thought they did a great job in identification and communication. That defensive line from top to bottom was one of the better defensive lines that we are going to face. They were number one in sacks and I thought they did a great job, especially in our no-huddle because the identification and communication is a bit more difficult in those situations. That's an experienced group that's been together for three years. I think schematically our coaching staff put together a very good plan of how we were going to try to neutralize their pass rush. I think they did a very good job yesterday, starting with our center (Todd McClure) with our calls and then I thought the guys executed it very well. Our tight ends are also involved in that, as well as our running backs. That is a very cohesive unit up front."

On TE Justin Peelle coming back from his injury:

"It was very good to get Justin back. Justin worked extremely hard, he was on the quick end of his recovery from his sports hernia surgery that he had. We were anticipating that it may be a couple more weeks before we would get him back out on the field, but he did come out. You could see that conditioning was a little bit of a concern. We weren't able to play him in as many snaps as we'd like, but he did a nice job. He had the touchdown pass, I thought he blocked well at the point of attack especially when we got into the third and fourth quarter where we wanted to run the football."

On S William Moore's interception:

"It was a very disciplined play. It was a good call by our Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder. We had coverage where we were in man coverage so you had to stay on your man, but we also had a hole defender as well. William's man got knocked off by a defensive linemen and William stayed very disciplined with his eyes. He broke on the ball, there was not really a receiver in the area, and the ball was thrown where they were anticipating the receiver to be and William kept his eyes on his man and he broke on the ball. That's what we mean by disciplined eyes, especially in man coverage"

On Moore's progression through the season:

"William is getting better every week. We knew he would because there's a maturation process that every player goes through. William is a playmaker. He's got the physical traits to play both in the box and in the middle of the field. He's done a nice job in working on certain aspects of his game each and every week. He's like a sponge in terms of trying to become a better football player. He's taking the coaching very well and physically I think he's got a chance to be a really good player. You're getting an opportunity now that he's got a few games underneath his belt to see what he's capable of doing. He's leading our team in interceptions and he's one of the hardest hitting safeties that I've seen throughout this season."

On WR Roddy White:

"Roddy is just a guy that if you throw the ball his way, he's going to catch it. He's got the speed to go deep so he's going to have some soft coverages. He's got the ability, if they're going to press him to get off of the press coverages and I thought you saw that yesterday. He and Matt feel very comfortable hooking up in terms of throwing the ball whether it's short or deep. Roddy has a great understanding of what we're trying to do with our offensive scheme, especially in the passing game."

On how the receivers and tight ends present problems for the defenses on third down:

"I think it puts the defense at a disadvantage and you've also got to consider our running backs. RB Jason Snelling, when he was in there as a third down back, he had a nice third down conversion as well. When you have the type of weapons that can create issues for defenses at different levels, the quarterback now is going to take what the defense gives him. Matt has a very good understanding, he's getting a great pre-snap read and he's putting the ball where it needs to be distributed. I think that's the reason we're number one in third down efficiency on offense. We lead the League in third down efficiency and there are a lot of options for us as play callers and for our quarterback to execute the play that is called."

On the importance of winning the turnover margin:

"The turnover margin is interactive between one another, we're plus one this week so now we're plus 10. We're second in the League. When you get the turnovers and don't turn the ball over and you're on the plus side, you're basically stealing possessions. We talk about number of series that we're going to have during a game and time of possession those are all factors in winning football games. Sometimes when you talk about yards and only yards, there are a lot of empty yards out there. They may drive down the field and take a 60-yard drive and then turn the ball over and score no points, those are like empty calories, those are empty yards. That's how we approach our defense and our offense. When we gain all those yards we want to score points. When they're moving the ball on us defensively we want to take the ball away to stop them from scoring points."

On the keys to the season thus far:

"We talk about time of possession and turnovers, fourth quarter scoring whether you're having to come from behind or whether you're in the lead you want to be able to put points on the board in the fourth quarter to make sure that you secure your lead. Penalties are very important. We didn't start out very good in terms of penalties, we had two penalties on our opening series and basically flipped the field because of those two penalties and the first drive that the Rams had was basically a short field on the minus 48-yard line. Penalties are a big factor. We talk about fourth quarter penalties and put a weight and an emphasis on fourth quarter penalties because games are so tight and so close and are usually going to come down to the fourth quarter."

On whether he gets the sense that the Falcons are under the radar:

"We don't really concern ourselves with that. Each and every week we try to go be the better team that Sunday. That's how we approach it. We're not concerned about anything else than being the better team on Sunday, whether it's a one o'clock kickoff or a four o'clock kickoff we want to be the better team that day. We figure if we're the better team that day and play well we're going to look up at the end of the season and we're going to like where we're at. That's been our approach from the very beginning."

On whether he is concerned about DE John Abraham's groin injury:

"You're always concerned when you have a player that misses time. This is the first time John has missed a game since I've been the head coach, and since General Manager Thomas (Dimitroff) and our administration has been here. It was really precautionary for us. We felt like where John was and where he felt he was prior to the game it was in the best interest that we hold him out knowing that we've got a long, hard part of our season coming up especially with now three out of our next four games on the road."

On what he anticipates with Abraham this week:

"I anticipate that John will be out on the practice field on Wednesday just like he practiced last week. He practiced Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, albeit it was limited participation but we limit John each and every week in terms of the number of snaps that he gets."

On whether the offensive line's performance against the Rams is encouraging for facing the Packers:

"This is a very talented Green Bay defense. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is one of the top defensive coordinators in the League. Whenever he puts a product out there on the field they are going to know what they're doing and they are going to play very effectively. They have the leading sacker in LB Clay Matthews. I think he has 11 and a half sacks in this point in time. They have a very sophisticated blitz package that creates issues in terms of identification. One of the great things is that we're going to be in our home and we're not going to have to deal with the crowd noise like we had to deal with last week in St. Louis."

On RB Michael Turner:

"There was some tough sledding going on. That was a very good defense. One of the top defenses in the League. Great third down defense and it was a physical football game. Michael just kept at it and we kept at it as a staff knowing that at that point in time of the game one of the things we wanted to do was run the football there late in the ballgame. We just kept feeding the ball to Michael and he made some plays there at the end. Again, we left some plays out there on the field. When I say left some plays, there were some plays in the run-game and the pass-game on defense that we felt like we could make. But we can sit there and say that every week."

On kicking field goals inside the redzone:

"The thought is, is normally we will consider taking a fourth-down shot and I don't think statistically it's much different, believe it or not, over 2008, 2009 really in the redzone we've taken our shots the majority of the time. We felt like the last time down there on the field goal attempt it was going to give us a two-score advantage. On the fourth down and one that gave us a nine point lead we felt like we definitely had to kick the field goal there. Then the down and distance situations on the other field goal attempts we felt it was in our best interest to go ahead and take the points."

On LB Sean Weatherspoon:

"Spoon had 35 snaps in the ballgame and played in our sub-package, did not play in our base-package that was by design. He had missed some time, four or five weeks, we wanted to get him indoctrinated into it not get him out there and play an entire game. There was some rust of course from missing time but I think it was another learning experience for him. I think you could feel him out there in terms of what he was able to do in the sub-package."

On whether it's a competition with him going back to the base-package:

"We're going to see how the week goes this week. He's still getting treatment on that knee and probably will throughout the entire season. I've not had my update from what's happened today in terms of treatment to see how we came out of the 35 snaps in the game yesterday."

On what they need to work on in order to win on Sunday:

"Defensively, it's going to be very important for us.They have a very good quarterback that's operating as well as any quarterback in the League. His quarterback rating in the ballgame the other day I believe was 141.8, so he had a heck of a ballgame. They've got some very good receivers. We're going to definitely have to contain that passing game. Then on the offensive side of the ball we definitely are going to have to be prepared for the blitz schemes that Dom Capers and his staff will throw at us. To me, those are the two biggest things for us. Then on special teams, we've got to continue to play solid special teams. We've done that the last two weeks; our improvement has been very evident in how we're playing special teams over the last two weeks."

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