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Transcript: Mike Smith Monday News Conference


Opening statment:

"As I said yesterday at the press conference, we were beat in all three phases of the game yesterday; offense, defense and special teams. We did some uncharacteristic things that we don't normally do and we've got to take responsibility for that. What I mean by that is we didn't perform up to the level that we need to perform. We will take responsibility for that and we've made the corrections. We've met with our team and we're ready to move forward."

On third-downs during the Chicago game:

"They got on a run very early and converted on the first drive; they had a third-and-seven that they converted on a flag route. We were in a blitz zone and we had a miscommunication so it was basically an uncovered guy and then we had a guy drop coverage on a third down and 13 as well and then I think we settled in. The first half, I think we were 50 percent on third down and then at the end of the game, we were a little better than that. But we've got to play third down much better than we did yesterday on the defensive side of the football."

On the special teams' role in the field position battle:

"If you look at the field position chart for the end of the game, we actually won the field position battle on the drive start. They had a couple of penalties that knocked them back inside the 10-yard line. We had a penalty on a kick return that we started inside the 10-yard line and I think we had a misjudged ball or a poor decision on a ball hitting the ground on a punt and the ball ended up inside the 10-yard line. After the first punt, our punter punted the ball fairly well. He did the things that we asked. I thought he had a nice kick out of the endzone, a 44-yarder with a one-step kick. We didn't cover it very well and they returned it to the plus 30-yard line. I liked what Matt Bosher did in the punting game."

On whether having to throw the ball affected the running game:

"We got into a situation, unfortunately, where we wanted to continue to run the football but we weren't able to do that in the second half. The score got out of hand and we felt like we had to go to throwing the football. It's not a good situation. The defensive linemen now get an opportunity to tee it up, pin their ears back when they know you're throwing it. Ultimately, we don't want to throw the ball 47 times and have that type of discrepancy in terms of the number of pass plays to run plays. Michael (Turner), I thought, ran the ball extremely well. He had two explosive runs that showed that he is back in form from years past."

On Matt Ryan getting hit more than the coaches would like:

"Much more than we'd like to, not just a little bit. That's something that we have to improve on. Our quarterback was sacked five times in the ball game yesterday and was hit numerous times. I believe the official statistic said that he was hit 11 times. That's not acceptable. WE have to definitely improve that. When you let a defensive line only have to defend one thing, it makes it tougher for your offensive protection to hold up. We've definitely got to improve that. There's a whole lot of things, not just our protection."

On the play of the defense:

"The positive from the game yesterday was that we were able to sack the quarterback five times. The negative from the game is that we had entirely too many missed tackles. Fundamentally, tackling is something that you have to be proficient at and we were not very proficient in our tackling yesterday in the ball game and that led to explosive plays. They had two 50-plus yard plays where the ball was actually thrown behind the line of scrimmage and ended up being a 53-yard and a 52-yard play, one going for a touchdown and one got down to the one-yard line. WE have got to firm up our tackling. We didn't tackle as effectively and efficiently as we need to."

On how you address the tackling issues:

"It's something that, at the core of what we do, we have to be fundamentally sound. It's very uncharacteristic, some of the things that were shown in the game yesterday and tackling was one of them. The thing that you have to do is you have to emphasize it. It's hard to do. You're only practicing once a week in pads so you're not going to get the opportunity to really thud. It's going to be very important that we visualize. We have to, what we call whiz by the ball carrier and make sure that we are leveraging the ball properly and leveraging it back to the inside. There's a force defender in every defense and we did not get the ball turned back on one of the plays and we were split between our force and fill defended on another play. They split us and the ball went down the field. That is something that we have to concern ourselves with. You cannot be a good defense if you do not tackle well."

On the role of attitude in tackling:

"Attitude is a very important part of the game of football and defensive football, especially. Again, we physically missed tackles. Sometimes they can be attributed to your attitude, sometimes they can be attributed to the angles you take when you're trying to get a guy on the ground. There are a number of factors that can attribute to why you weren't successful. Ultimately, we want to be a team that's a crisp tackling team, because that's what defenses do; they tackle well and we did not tackle well yesterday."

On Joe Hawley and Garrett Reynolds:

"I thought Joe Hawley did a very nice job stepping in for Todd McClure. He had a big challenge. Todd had 144 consecutive starts and he did a very good job for the most part. I thought of all of the guys, after watching the tape today, he probably had the most-solid game of all the linemen. That was encouraging the way that (Hawley) played. Garrett had his first extensive action as well. He has played sparingly in the previous seasons but I thought he did a pretty good job as well. Again, we were kind of behind the eight ball in the second half with just the way that the ball game played out. They did not have to worry about playing the run and they were able to tee off and just rush the passer and defend the run on their way to the quarterback."

**On Todd McClure:

**"Todd is going to be working outside with our rehabilitation staff so we'll get a chance to see where he is. He started today so we'll get a chance to see where he is tomorrow and on Wednesday."

**On the attitude of the team today:

**"Disappointed, but not discouraged. This is the start of the NFL season and we didn't start very well, I'll be quite frank with you. They realize that. We, and I say we together, didn't start very well. They know that it's a long season and that we have things that we have to correct and we are going to get them corrected. We have to get back out there on the field on Wednesday and get those corrections. It's a little somber any time that you don't get the outcome that you want but I don't think that we were a discouraged football team; just disappointed in the way that the game ended and the way that the game was played."

**On the similarity of the start of this season compared to last season:

**"I don't know if there are any similarities. Each and every season brings a completely different dynamic, in terms of how the season goes and in terms of who you play next. What we can do is make the corrections, work together in making those corrections and move on to the next game. We've got our 24-hour rule. There are some guys as I walked through the hallway that are still watching tape but here in the next 15 minutes or so, we're going to be on to the Philadelphia Eagles and getting our preparation started there."

**On how to address the mistakes that were made:

**"We didn't play very well. We did not perform well in all three phases of the game. We've got things that we have got to correct. We made mistakes. The coaching staff made mistakes, the players made mistakes and we've got to get them corrected. The thing that we address the day after the game is how are we going to make the corrections that we need to help us have an opportunity to play better and more efficiently than the way that we played yesterday. Not the way we wanted to start, plain and simple, and I'm not going to sit here and go searching for all kinds of answers because I know what it is in terms of what we have to do. You have to put that game behind you, identify the mistakes that you made and try to correct them."

**On Kelvin Hayden and James Sanders:

**"We feel like they're getting close to being able to play. James Sanders played on special teams. Kelvin Hayden did not play in the ball game yesterday but let's be perfectly clear, we want to get those guys out on there the field as quick as we can. When we feel comfortable with that scenario, we're going to put them out there because they are two good football players that can help us win some football games."

**On the play of Julio Jones:

**"I thought Julio did some good things. In a rookie's first game, everyone is going to make mistakes. I think he sped some things up but I like the way that he competed. That's what you've got to do. You've got to go out and compete. I really think of all the guys on offense, he was right up there in terms of the level of his desire to compete."

**On a silver lining based on all NFC South teams losing their first games:

**"You guys might say that to the other three coaches and I think they'd feel the way that I do. Not any consolation. When you don't play well, it's not a fun Monday. For our division, we're a proud division and this has been one of the most competitive and toughest divisions in the NFL. I don't take that as a consolation and I don't think our players do either. We've got to get things corrected and move forward and we will. We're looking forward to getting out on the field of Wednesday, starting our preparation."

**On the play of Matt Ryan:

**"In terms of Matt's play, when you turn the football over, most of the time it involves your quarterback. You can't turn the football over and be on the negative side of the turnover ratio and win football games. We've got to make sure that we have good ball security. That was one of our musts. We go in each and every week talking about what are the three musts that we must do as an offense, what we must do as a defense and what we must do on special teams to give us the best chance to win. The number one must was that we wanted every drive to end with a kick, preferably a kick by Matt Bryant and not our punter. That was one of our goals. That's just another way of saying you don't want to turn the football over. You don't want to give the ball to your opponent and that was something that we did not do. The other thing that showed up was that we did not play smart football. We had way too many penalties. We have seven penalties in the ball game yesterday. And of all of the penalties on the offensive side of the ball, we were never able to overcome them and sustain a drive. That's the reason that you don't want to have penalties. You want to play smart football because you put yourself behind the chain and when you're behind the chain, it makes it more difficult to get first downs. We were not able to overcome any of the offensive penalties from the game yesterday."

**On the Bears' defense affecting the downfield passing attack:

**"They were playing a lot of cover two and cover two shell. They weren't playing in a whole lot of single-high, especially when the game got out of hand. The ability to take the ball down the field gets eliminated when you're playing that style of defense. We didn't have the opportunities that we would have liked to. If we had some different looks from the defense, then we're going to have more opportunities to take the ball down the field, although we did have a 30-yard completion to our tight end and a 32-yard completion to Julio Jones. Again, we are always striving to score points. That's our number one goal. Yesterday, we didn't get that done."

**On other injuries:

**"On Wednesday, we will give the injury report. It was a very physical ball game yesterday. The Chicago Bears are a very physical team and we're a very physical team and it was one that played out very physically."

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