Transcript: Mike Smith Press Conference

Head coach Mike SmithOpening Statement:

"Good afternoon.  We spent the morning looking at the tape.  I thought there were some very positive things in the ballgame yesterday, some young guys stepped up.  Some guys that had a lot of experience made some plays for us as well.  I thought our pass protection was probably as good as it's been all season long.  Obviously, we have to do better running the football."

On Steven Jackson suffering a setback:

"No, there is no news on that.  Right now we're anticipating that Steven Jackson will be participating in practice on Wednesday."

On the eight man defensive line rotation:

"When you have a bye week, you get an opportunity to study your football team a little bit more in depth.  I thought the coaching staff, we did a very good job looking at all things.  We wanted to take a holistic approach, looking at everything that we do.  One of the things that we felt would help us is that we would get a rotation going with our defensive lineman.  I thought it worked very well for us yesterday; we had much better pressure, we were able to sack the quarterback three times.  We had a couple of opportunities for a couple of other plays.  I thought it was nice to see a couple of younger guys stepping up, especially Malliciah Goodman and Stansly Maponga, who had probably had more playing time in this game than every other game this year. "

On using that rotation in the past but not yet this year:

"We didn't feel like we had the young guys quite ready to go at the beginning of the season.  As you recall, Stansly Maponga was not participating in training camp.  We felt like by the time we got to our bye week, we would have him ready to roll.  He did a nice job in the game yesterday and I thought Malliciah had some pressure on the quarterback as well.  It's good to see those young guys stepping up.  We also made a change in the secondary moving Desmond Trufant in to play the nickel corner and Robert Alford, slid him out to play the outside corner.  There were a number of things that we did during the bye week that I think paid dividends in this first game after the bye."

On Alford and Trufant:

"I thought that for the first time playing the nickel corner, Desmond did a nice job.  It's completely different, when you are out as a corner, you have a sideline you are standing close to, and when you are playing the nickel back you don't have a sideline.  You have to take away both the right and the left.  I thought he did a nice job.  I thought that they tried to target him in terms of moving 83 around.  I think 83 was targeted 22 times in the ballgame and I thought Desmond did a very nice job for his first time.  Robert played with a lot of intensity.  Unfortunately, we had too many penalties on defense.  We had five penalties on the defensive side of the football and Robert had one of them on a pass interfered.  We were attacking the football which we needed to do, and we needed to play more aggressively on defense.  I think that you saw that in the ballgame yesterday."

On the best they've done in finishing out a game:

"This season, it definitely is.  We finished strong, like the start, especially on the first third down for the defense, not necessarily going out there offensively and not getting a first down.  I like the way that we started and we finished.  It showed a lot of resolve the moment we dropped that punt.  The momentum could have easily changed in that ballgame and I thought the offense came back out and answered the bell.  We had some fourth down opportunities to get stops and get off the field, we didn't get it. There was a drive, I don't know if it was officially 21 plays, but we were out there for 21 consecutive snaps.  I think the rotation helped us.  We were able to put pressure on the quarterback when they were down in the red zone."

On using a lot of blitz packages yesterday:

"I think we got some good plays out of them.  We had some opportunities to get other plays, there were, I thought, two more opportunities for sacks.  You guys will watch the tape and see.  We did take the ball away, got the ball off of the offense.  Trufant got a strip, they were able to recover it, and I think it led to a punt.  We would have had the ball on the plus side of the 50, so there were a lot of positives in the ballgame.  We wanted to attack the ball on the defensive side, and I think the game plan the defensive staff put together was very good and for the most part we executed it."

On the ability to still cover when Tampa Bay picked up on the blitzes:

"I thought that the coverage was done very well.  That in turn, when you have good, tight coverage, you will keep pushing to the quarterback and put pressure on the quarterback.  Some of the sacks were coverage sacks, it wasn't coming scott free, it was guys continuing to push at the quarterback.  I thought the defensive line and the linebackers when we added them into the rush did a nice job."

On Coach Nolan being on the field:

"We did play better in the game yesterday.  During the bye week, we look from top to bottom in everything we do in this organization.  You've heard me say that before, and we felt the decisions we made yesterday helped us win the football game.  We have one goal and that is to put our guys in the best position possible.

On the reasoning behind Stansly getting more snaps:

"Stansly has been working extremely hard in practice.  We felt he earned the right to get some snaps.  Earlier in the season, unfortunately, the flow of the game did not go that way.  We took a different approach.  An approach I have done in the past, in terms of predetermining who was going to play what series.  That in turn allows you to get more guys in there, instead of just going on feel.  Sometimes you get in there and you don't want to put a young guy in there when they are on the plus side of the 50, but for young guys to get experience you have to go out there and get plays.  It was a predetermined decision we made as a coaching staff, in terms of who was going to play what series.  It could turn out one week, one guys gets more snaps than another, but this week I think Stansly had more snaps than Jonathan Massaquoi.  By the way, I think Jonathan played very well in his role.  I think he recorded his first half sack of his career."

On making that decision so they could keep the starters fresh:

"I think it does a lot of things.  It keeps our guys fresher.  We're all about competition.  I think it's very important there is a very competitive situation each and every week.  I think we have that right now; I think we're creating that right now in the defensive front. Yes, it will definitely help us down the long road in terms of the older players, the wear and tear on their body, as we get into the second half of this season."

On Steven Jackson:

"Again, this is all based on what the doctor will say, in terms of how much he will participate in practice through the week.  When we left out of here on Friday, everything was very good in terms of his testing and the opportunity to return to play.  We're anticipating we will get him in and see how he handles it.  You've got to go in and take it one day at a time when you are coming back from an injury.  Obviously, you are not going to have him go in and have him practice fully in a practice the first day he's back."

On the screen game:

"I think our screen game has been very productive for us, not only this week.  We felt like going into the game it could be a part of our run game, that is how you have to look at it.  A screen is like a run.  It gets the ball in the running backs hand out in space.  I thought that Jacquizz Rodgers did a very nice job with his opportunities to catch the football, with the two touchdown catches that he had.  He added a couple of nice screens, he was in a man coverage there in a touchdown pass in the red zone, put on a nice move, Matt was able to deliver the football.  There were a lot of guys that contributed this week, it was nice to see.  I know Harry Douglas had a career game with over 140 yards in receptions.  We all know that Harry has got those capabilities, just the way our roster has been built, up until this time he was not given the opportunities to get targets. When he gets some opportunities he is going to be able to make plays.  Drew Davis made a nice play on our sideline that was a wonderful catch.  It was good to see young Darius Johnson get his first catch; it was a big catch for a first down on a second and 12 or second and nine.  He stepped up and made some plays as well."

On what those plays say about Matt Ryan:

"It says Matt Ryan is an elite quarterback in the NFL.  I think his quarterback rating was above 140.  I think at one point in time it was even a perfect quarterback rating, right at halftime or right before.  Matt did a very good job of going through his reads, going through his possessions and distributing the ball to the receiver that was open.  I thought he did a really good job."* *

On deciding to just run with the young guys:

"I don't think it was to just run with the young guys, I think we felt like these guys have practiced hard.  We were playing some young players because of injury, and these guys deserved the opportunity to go out there and play.   Statistically, we were not where we wanted to be on third down going into the bye, there were some other markers that showed we were not where we were at this point last year at this point in time.  You're not just going to continue to do the same thing when you are not getting the results you want.  That is what coaching is all about, and that is what we do as a coaching staff.  I think that we did a nice job during the bye week.  I thought our guys came back with the right mental attitude, practiced with a lot of energy.  We are taking it one day at a time, one game at a time.  You can't concern yourself with what is going on anywhere in this League.  All you can concern yourself with is yourself and your next opponent."

On what worked on third down:

"We were attacking the football; we were being aggressive across the board.  We were more aggressive, the playing up front of our front seven.  I thought the defensive backs were being more aggressive.  We attacked the ball, we had some opportunities, we had some ball disruptions, and we put pressure on the quarterback and it was twofold.  We were doing a nice job rushing the passer, and we were also doing a nice job with tight coverage.  We got the tight coverage and the quarterback had to hold the ball and we were able to get to him.  There are so many people who keep statistics in terms of how many quarterback hits you have, but I thought our number was pretty good.  We put pressure on the quarterback yesterday; we'll leave it at that.  We don't need to talk about specific numbers.  I know you guys have yours, you have probably four different sources, and I'll take the highest one."

On Robert fumbling and how that will affect his play:

"I think every play in a football game affects another play.  We have to make decisions that we feel like our best for our football team.  We have confidence in Robert Alford, but we have to make decisions based on what we think are best for us moving forward.  Those are decisions that will be made before the week is out.  We're going to make sure we put ourselves in the best situation possible.  We have now put two balls on the ground in punting situations, which is totally unacceptable.  Basically, you lose a possession, and both times it's happened inside the 25-yard line.  We've got to make sure we are doing what is right for our football team and put a guy out there that is going to be able to handle those situations."

On Julio Jones:

"I've spoken to Julio almost daily, except over the weekend.  He is doing well.  There is not a whole lot that can be done right now, he is immobilizing the foot.  We don't want him out running around, standing on the practice field, standing on the sideline.  He's doing well."

On Roddy White:

"I'm not going to talk about where Roddy is.  We are all progressing well.  We will have to see where these guys are on Wednesday.  They are going through testing today with our athletic performance; they'll also see the doctor today.  The doctor has the final say, but we are encouraged with the way that our guys have worked to get back out on the field and that is Steven, Roddy and Chase Coffman."

On the injuries going on around the League:

"I can't speak for what is going on everywhere else.  Injuries are a part of the game.  We're hoping we've had all the ones we are going to have are done, and we will be clean the rest of the season.  From what I understand the numbers are up a little bit from last year, but it is a fact of life in the NFL.  Guys are going to be injured, and when guys are injured the next man is going to have to step up.  I say it all the time one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity. I think there were some guys that stepped up and took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to them yesterday. "

On Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald:

"Larry Fitzgerald. Wow.  Without a doubt, he is one of the top receivers in the NFL.  I have had the opportunity to play against Larry a number of times.  He is a guy that you have to know where he is, and how you are going to try and defend him.  On a personal note, he is an outstanding person.  He is one of the best guys in the NFL.  I know that Carson Palmer has come in to be the quarterback there, going through the learning of the new offense.  His numbers are probably not as good as they want them to be statistically, but he can spin the football.  He can throw the ball, he's got a strong arm, he can throw the ball down the field, and he is a big guy as well."* *

On how going against Vincent Jackson will help with going against Larry Fitzgerald:

"I think it will be very good for our young players.  Vincent is little bit bigger and taller than Larry, but he is a big physical wide receiver.  I anticipate they will move Larry around just like they did Vincent to try and get the match ups they think are favorable.  All of our guys are going to have to be prepared to line up against him.  I think this past week is a very good experience for him."

On what to expect from John Abraham:

"We will get John's 'A' game.  He is a competitor, an outstanding pass rusher.  He has lit the board up with some big plays against Seattle with the two sacks and two forced fumbles.  John can be a game changer, so it will be important to us as a coaching staff to put a plan together, to know where he will be rushing from.  They will rush him from both the left and right side."

On Bruce Arian's offense being different at Arizona:

"No, I don't believe so.  He has a scheme that has worked very well in the NFL, starting way back in Indianapolis than in Pittsburgh.  Bruce is going to run the football; he is going to put some resources up at the line of scrimmage to stop the run.  Then when you do that he will try to get you into mismatches at the receiver position.  The young running back out of Clemson is doing a nice job.  Ellington I believe is his name.  I haven't had the opportunity to spend a lot of time watching him, but he is doing a nice job as well."

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