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Transcript: Mike Smith Monday news conference


Falcons head coach talked about a difficult road stretch of three straight games coming up for his team during his Monday news conference

Opening Statement:

"From the game yesterday I think there were a couple of observations that I'd like to talk about. I thought offensively that our offensive line did a very good job protecting our quarterback and allowing us to run the football, which in turn allowed us to control the tempo of the football game. That was an eight series game, which in a normal game you have 11 or 12 series. We had eight series they had nine and their last one was basically the fast break series there at the end of the game. We were able to control the tempo of the game like we wanted to and a lot of it had to do with our offensive line. On the defensive side of the ball, I thought that we put together a plan against a team that had been scoring, I think they had scored 76 points in the last two ballgames. We knew that they were going to be able to move the football, but we wanted to do the most important thing and that was to keep them out of the endzone. I thought although we gave up some yards we were able to keep them out of the endzone. On special teams, we had some big plays; our kickoff coverage unit did an outstanding job, making the offense go 80-plus yards. We had a huge kickoff return there after we gave up the score on fourth and 11 there in the last minute of the ballgame by WR Eric Weems. All three phases really contributed to the game. I am disappointed because our fans helped us yesterday and got us from a fourth and five to a fourth and 11 on the false start there at the end of the game and we didn't hold up our end to keep them out of the endzone there on defense. I will say this, it was a very good crowd. I'd love to take them on the road with us for this three game road trip because they've been a big advantage for us."

On what the keys are with three road games coming up:

"We really started to talk about this road trip that we're really into right now, before we played St. Louis because four out of five of the games were going to be on the road. I think it's very important for us as a team and as a staff is to make sure that our guys are well rested both physically and mentally. We've made adjustments already to our practice schedule over the last couple of weeks in terms of reducing the workload both on the field and in the meeting rooms, trying to get these guys as fresh as possible because traveling is hard on the body and we're going to be doing that for the next three weeks. Our approach is that we have to go in and try to set the tempo just like we do at home when we're on the road. I think the quicker you can set the tempo the better chance you have of having the type of game you want to have there on the road."

On whether sticking to a routine will be important during the three road game stretch:

"As you know we're very much about routines in terms of how we practice. We lay it out for the players. They've known since March of last year what time we were going to finish on Thanksgiving Day for practice. They know the routine, they know how we'll change as we get further along in the season in terms of our workload. This isn't something that we're doing by happenstance that we need to make a change, it's something that we thought out well in advance."


On preparing for the second matchup with the Buccaneers:**

"It was a very hard fought game against Tampa here in the Dome. We know what we're going to have to defend and we know how we're going to have to attack their defense. They're very familiar with us. I think it will be a typical NFC South game that will be very highly competitive. We were very fortunate to make some plays there at the end of the ballgame when they were up here. Stopping their offense with their quarterback, their quarterback is playing very efficient. He can run the football, something that we didn't do very well yesterday in terms of containing the quarterback. We're going to have a big challenge this week because this guy is bigger than the quarterback that we faced yesterday. The running back (LeGarrette) Blount is a guy that you have to concern yourself with and then defensively they come at you. Head coach (Raheem) Morris is very aggressive in his play calling and how he wants to try to neutralize your offense. It will be a big challenge and of course there special teams have done a good job. Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is one of the better special teams coaches in the League."

On LB Mike Peterson's play Sunday:

"I thought Mike Peterson made a couple of very big plays. The recovery in the endzone, that's tough because he got the initial recovery and of course that's a melee down there and he was able to keep control of the football. That was a big play and he had another big play on a third and one where he did get the first hit which basically got us off the field. Forcing that offense to punt is a challenge the way that they were operating. They did some things yesterday with their five wide receiver sets that we hadn't seen a whole lot of."

On the three personal foul penalties in the first half:

"It was very uncharacteristic. I think we were maybe a little juiced up. We talk about it all the time, we want to play with an edge but we don't want to play over the edge. Two of those three penalties, one was a late hit out of bounds and one was a late hit after the play. The facemask was just a guy trying to make a play and reached out and happened to contact the facemask. There's no longer five yard facemasks if you contact the facemask it's a 15-yarder, a major penalty. I think we settled down after that in the first quarter and we ended up only having four penalties for the entire game. You can't go out there especially in the redzone and have possession in the redzone and knock yourself out of the redzone by having a 15-yard penalty. We were fortunate to be able to gain enough yards back on the third down play to attempt and make the field goal that K Matt (Bryant) hit."

On QB Matt Ryan's 19-1 start in the Georgia Dome:

"One of the things that we talk about every season is that we want to be successful and control our home field. I feel like that's part of the formula to being successful in this League you've got to make sure that you take care of your home field. It is an emphasis for us, knowing that we have to win at home because it's difficult to win on the road. I think we have a confidence level once you string some wins underneath your belt you get a level of confidence that helps you in the future. I think we have a very good comfort level playing at home. Our fans are a big part of that though, they make it difficult for our opponents. I think it really is something we put an emphasis on and I think our guys really have bought into knowing that we've got to be successful at home if we're going to be the type of team that we want to have."

On QB Matt Ryan playing well in high pressure situations:

"He doesn't get bothered by the moment. I can say this not only about Matt but really about our whole team, when they're facing a tough situation they don't blink. Again, there was a sense of calmness it's happened a number of times this season there at the end of the ballgame in the fourth quarter that we've got to go out and make some plays. We come over to the sideline after giving up that touchdown and there was a sense of calmness. Once we knocked out the kickoff return aided by a penalty on them that gets us basically at the 50 yard line, we know we're really within 15 yards, one completion of an intermediate route or a run of being in field goal range. Our guys never blink. They know we've got the guys that can step up and make the plays. In that last 45 seconds Matt spread the ball around to a number of receivers. Again, that shows that maturity that we're not just looking for one guy in those situations we're going through our reads, going through the progressions and distributing the ball where it needs to be."

On how LB Sean Weatherspoon is progressing:

"I think that Sean is progressing in terms of his recovery. I don't know that he's 100 percent and of course at this point in the season I'm not sure if there's many guys that are playing that are 100 percent. Yesterday, we kept him only in our sub-package so he did not play in our base-package, but he got the majority of the snaps based on the personnel groupings that we saw. Again, Sean is a rookie and he's getting back into the swing of things. I saw things that he progressed on from the St. Louis game to this game and we anticipate he'll just get right back into the swing of things as he starts feeling better."

On giving up the explosive plays to Green Bay's offense:

"We gave up five explosive plays, the fifth one being the last play, it was an explosive play that went for 20 yards or more. We have and we still are the third ranked team in not giving up explosive plays but that was way too many. On a couple of those plays, one schematically they had a very good play on a coverage pick-up for us, but there were a couple of them where we just did not leverage the football and did not tackle as crisply as we had liked. That was probably the thing that stood out in space that we missed some tackles and had some opportunities of getting the guys on the ground."

On how CB Dunta Robinson has played since coming back from his concussion:

"Dunta is playing well. He's very active. Again, when you're playing at that corner position that's a hot spot. It's probably the toughest position to play in the National Football League. Both of our corners are out there, you're out there on an island. I think that Dunta's played very well. The skill set that he brings is his physicality. We're pleased with the way that he's been playing for us. He's a force out there at the corner position."

On not turning the ball over:

"Ball security is paramount and I think one we've got very good security with our runners. Our running backs and receivers after they're catching the ball and I think that our quarterback has made some very good decisions in terms of his progressions and not throwing the ball into coverage. That's just a natural progression that the experienced quarterbacks go through. I don't know that many teams go four games. It's the first time in the history of our organization that we've gone four games without turning the ball over."




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