Transcript: Mike Smith Post-Practice Interview

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Falcons head coach Mike Smith discussed what he plans to work on this week as his team waits to find out who it will play in the NFC divisional round

On how the first practice of the week went:

“It was like our bye week. We came out here and spent time working on our stuff, working against each other. I thought the guys came out a little cold, but I thought that they moved around very well. This is Falcons on Falcons this week. Just trying to get better, working on fundamentals and try to clean up some things that we need to clean up.”

On his thoughts on the three potential opponents:

“We really are preparing for all three because they’re all hypothetical situations. Our coaching staff has spent this week getting prepared. It’ll be known Sunday evening after that four o’clock game.”

On offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey’s interviewing situation:

“I’m very happy for Mike and the opportunity. I know that we’re focusing on the game that’s coming up and I really don’t have a whole lot more. I know that right now he won’t be visiting with Denver this weekend. I can say that, I don’t know anything beyond that.”

On whether not knowing who the opponent is going to be makes the bye week harder:

“It makes it a little bit more difficult in terms of preparation for the coaching staff. When we went through our bye week we were just working on ourselves, the sequencing out there on the field is no different. As far as the coaching staff is concerned it’s a big difference because we’ve got to prepare for three teams.”

On what they are internally working on:

“We’re working on the things that we need to get better at. Some of the things that we felt like over the last month of the season we haven’t been as effective at we’re working on. I think defensively, the thing that we want to make sure of is we want to be better with our pursuit angles and not giving up the explosive plays. That’s probably the biggest thing for defense. Offensively, we just want to make sure that we’re being able to identify the different defenses that are being presented to us so we don’t have the free runners. On special teams, really the return game is the emphasis that we’re working on these two days.”

On whether he reached out to other coaches and former coaches in regards to the scheduling of a bye week:

“Yeah, in fact this is something that we prepared for probably three or four weeks ago. We started to talk with people in terms of ‘hey you’ve had a bye week, how did you do it?’ Getting different ideas. I’ve never had this opportunity as a coach. I’ve played in the playoffs five prior times but never had a bye week. I reached out and I think we’ve got a good schedule. What we ended up doing was doing it exactly like we do our bye week during the season. Our guys are familiar with it and I think it’s probably going to be the most beneficial thing for us.”

On what the most beneficial advice he received was and who it was from:

“I’ve talked to a number of guys. I always talk to Brian (Billick). I talk to Bengals head coach Marvin (Lewis). I talk to Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio. Mike Nolan is a guy that I talk with. Those are all guys that I’ve talked with and got their ideas of how they’ve done it in the past. Also, we’re very fortunate to have some coaches on our staff that have been in this situation as well. Some of our assistant coaches have had bye weeks going into the playoffs so that helps as well.”

On the demeanor of the team:

“I think it’s very businesslike. We haven’t really changed anything in terms of how we do things. I like the way that our guys work. They are a group of guys that like to have fun but when we go to work, we go to work. When we start a meeting and that door shuts their focus is on what we’ve got to get accomplished and when we come out on the field warm-ups might be a little bit loose but when we start working these guys know how to work. They have done a very good job for us.”

On whether there is any concern with RB Michael Turner after fumbling in the last two games:

“No, emphasis on ball security is something that we always talk about. There are going to be opportunities for opponents to have good plays. I think one of the two was a very good play. Michael had gone a long time without putting the ball on the ground. We’ve just got to make sure we continue to drill our guys in the fundamentals of the game of football. I think at this point in time emotion and energy and attitude that’s all going to be there, it’s really going to be about the teams that go out and execute the fundamentals of the game the best that are going to move on to the next round.”

On TE Tony Gonzalez getting a chance to have postseason success:

“Tony’s had other opportunities in Kansas City and this is his first chance here with us in terms of a playoff game. We like where we’re at because one we’re getting an opportunity to play in the Georgia Dome and two we’re getting an opportunity to get some guys healthy and that I think is very important.”

On who he wants to play:

“Whoever the league tells us that we’re going to play. In terms of the seeding it’s all set so whoever is the lowest seed will be the team that we’ll be playing. We don’t really have a preference. We don’t have any control over that so the only thing that we can do is do our due diligence with all three teams and prepare and find out on Sunday.”

On whether he has any thoughts on the League possibly reseeding the playoffs:

“I don’t think about those things. I know that that’s a League matter in terms of how the playoffs are set up so I don’t really have a comment on it. I’m sure that if it’s advantageous to you, you like the way it is now and if it’s not advantageous you’d probably want it to be switched the other way. My thought is the system is the system and you play within it. You go out when you have the opportunity to play in the playoffs and make the most of it.”

On whether the coaches will be off along with the players this weekend and have time to watch the games:

“Our schedule for the weekend is our coaches will be off on Saturday but we will be back in the office on Sunday to start our week. Our week is based off of a Saturday ballgame so we’re going to be six days out on Sunday. We will take some time off and spend some time with our families. I am sure the guys have a keen interest in the games that are being played. We’ll come in here on Sunday and start our work week.”

On whether he watches the games as a fan:

“I can only speak for myself. It will be watched with a keen interest, not as a fan, probably a little bit more intensely.”

On being the only team in the league to finish in the top five of offensive scoring and defensive scoring:

“I think it says that there’s balance on our team. Both our offense and defense are playing very effectively to be the only team that does that. I think special teams is a factor in that as well. It’s just not offense and defense I think special teams play affects both the offense and the defensive side of the football.”

On how he conducts the message of importance this week:

“The message is no different this week than it has been any other week. We’re going to do business as usual. We want to try to stay on the same schedule. There’s really nothing that we need to do any differently. Our preparation has worked for us through our entire season and we’re going to continue to do the things that we’ve done. Really, it’s still about us and us getting ready and prepared.”

On the Saints placing two running backs on injured reserve and whether that changes their team:

“I haven’t even thought about it. I’ve seen it come across the wire. Right now, our focus this week is about us getting better and then we’ll deal with who we’re playing on Sunday.”

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