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Transcript: Mike Smith Press Conference

Head coach Mike SmithOpening Statement:

"Good afternoon.  I hope everybody enjoyed the bye weekend.  I know our football team took some time off and much needed rest physically, probably mentally as well."

On any updates on the five players that could possibly play this week:

"I don't have an update right now.  I think the guys are making progress in terms of rehabilitation, and we will have a much better idea when we get to Wednesday.  We will be practicing tomorrow, it will be Falcons on Falcons, and we will start preparing for Tampa Bay on Wednesday."

On a possible trade for at wide receiver position:

"I would never address anything regarding potential moves.  We've built this roster, we like this roster.  That is all I'll say about it."

On the scene of the bye week:

"Well, we weren't really concerned about preparing for next week during our bye week.  Our focus was solely on us, what we need to get better at.   There are a number of things that we had to address, some things not only on the field but off the field.  We did a more extensive self-scout and evaluated the situations we haven't been successful in.  It was really about us trying to improve, starting with the coaching part of it and working with the players in terms of technique and scheme."

On fixing some of the problems that have cost them games:

"Very confident in the group that we have, not only in the locker room, but in the staff room.  We've got a lot of experience, a lot of guys that have won a lot of football games.  We know how fine line it is, we have to make sure that we address it in the bye week, which we believe we've done, and then you have to have it carry over into practice and our preparation for Tampa.  Our sole focus has got to be on one thing and that is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting Wednesday."

On being optimistic Steven Jackson will be back:

"Again, we had a lot of guys here during the bye week, when the players were off, the injured players were here doing their rehab.  I think some guys have made some progress.  I'm not going to specifically talk about any one player.  The only player that I will say is further along than where he was last week is Jason Snelling.  Jason Snelling has moved down the chain so to speak, in terms of his concussion protocol and we will see Jason Snelling out on the field in the next day or two. "

On looking at the third down situations:

"We've got to be much better on third down.  I think on the defensive side off the ball, we're almost polar opposite through the first five games in terms of situational football.  We were very good in third down last season through the first five games.  We had put pressure on the quarterback through the first five games and our red zone efficiency was good.  We are not nearly as good as we need to be.  We've got to put pressure on the quarterback.  We can't let the quarterback stand in there and be comfortable, and we must play tighter coverage.  Those are the things that stand out when you watch third downs.  Third and longs stand out in terms of what down and distance.  We've given up way to many third and longs, probably too soft in our technique."

On the passing yards being high and the rushing being six:

"Very much so, I think we have done a decent job defending the run.  We have not done a very good job in terms of our pass defense, the number of yards given up, they have happened on third downs, when you are only 50 percent on third down and your two minute defense is not as efficient as it needs to be you are going to give up lots of yards.  I think you can look back in two of the five games and see we gave up yards very quickly at the end of the ballgame, in two of our five games. In terms of the amount of takeaways that we had through the first five games last year, it's completely different.  We started out very fast in terms of taking the ball away.  There are a number of factors that lead to takeaways, and we've got to do a better job of attacking the football.  Not only on the run plays but when the ball is in the air.  Again, as I mentioned earlier on third downs, we've got to be better about affecting the quarterback.  We're not nearly as effective as we need to be in the situational side in situational football."

On clearing his mind and getting perspective during the bye:

"I had an opportunity to step back for a day or two.  I spent a lot of time here in meetings, here at the facility, evaluating a number of things.  We're not going to make excuses.  You can't make excuses; we haven't made the plays or called the plays to allow us to win football games in the first five games."

On the line play getting scrutinized:

"Football at the core is controlling the line of scrimmage.  I have said that since day one, since I was hired here, that we want to be the kind of team that controls the line of scrimmage from both sides of the football.  I don't know that we are doing that as efficiently and effectively as we wanted too.  I think both sides has been highly scrutinized, I think that there has been some improvement in some areas, but it hasn't been steady improvement that we need it to be for us to be as efficient as we want to be on both sides of the football, both offensively and defensively."

On chemistry issues with the injuries to Roddy White and Julio Jones:

"As I said last week, Julio, if you look historically at our injury report through the first five games, he was limited participant in most practices.  Roddy missed most practices and would come out and get maybe one, one and a half days of practice.  Matt Ryan has been throwing the ball quite a bit in practice to Drew Davis, Harry Douglas and Kevin Cone.  Again, we haven't done it in games, but we've done it in practice.  They've had a couple days last week to work and we'll get an extra day tomorrow to work on seeing it from the same eyes."

On the positive aspects through the first part of the season:

"There have been a lot of positive things.  I think from week to week we've improved in areas we had done poorly at the week before.  I think that we showed that we are a very resilient football team, in terms of the ebbs and flows of the games we've played in the first five ballgames.  This is a team that has a never quit attitude and I anticipate that we will continue to do that.  I think that if we will continue to do that we will get the outcomes that we want as we move forward the rest of the season."

On keeping the players positive:

"You have to have a very good, strong, solid core group in the locker room that has some experience that knows there are going to be some ups and downs in a football season.  Unfortunately, through the first five games, we've had our share of opportunities to show our resiliency, we just haven't' gotten the outcome that we want.  This is a strong locker room, these guys are not only dedicated to winning football games, but they are dedicated to one another.  This is a very strong group and I anticipate they will come out and play very aggressive, passionate football against Tampa Bay."

On the last drive of the Jets game and how little fundamental things went wrong:

"That has kind of been the story of our football season through the first five games.  It's a bunch of little things.  In the NFL, the little things will get you beat.  If you don't do the little things right, you are not going to play as efficient and as good as you need to play.  We have not done the little things and it's not been the same thing.  You mentioned three different things on that one drive, and you did a pretty good job of breaking down the tape there, I will say that.  There are a lot of factors that come into a win or a loss; it's not one specific play in a football game.  Each play has a cause and effect of the next play that is going to be played.  You can't look back, I know people like to do it, and say well if we would have done this on play 17 or play 24 it would have been a different outcome.  There is a cause and effect to every play and every decision a coaching staff has to make."

On leadership on the line play:

"I think that it is a different dynamic this year in terms of the offensive line.  We have two guys basically stepping into new roles.  Through the first five games we've done some things that have been positive at times, but we still think we can play better.  Our pass protection has gotten much better as the season has gone on.  I believe right now we are third in the NFL in terms of giving up sacks.  We have seen some improvement there.  We have not run the ball consistently as we would like to.  Really guys, if I had to say what the biggest issue is, is we've done nothing, and I repeat, nothing consistently in the first five games.  That is offense, defense, special teams and that is coaching. And that is something that has to get fixed and we have to be much better at being a consistent football team."

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