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Transcript: Mike Smith Press Conference

Head coach Mike SmithOpening Statement:

"We've got to move past yesterday's game very quickly.  As I said yesterday, it was unacceptable the way we played.  We've got to focus now on the New Orleans Saints, on a short week.  It's Wednesday about noon in terms of the New Orleans Saints.  We'll have a practice this evening in getting indoctrinated into the New Orleans Saints."

On the line and how you might move forward there:

"We made some changes in the lineup, not only in the line but on the defensive side of the ball as well.  We will continue to evaluate everything.  When you've played like we've played, especially the last four weeks, you've got to look at all options.  I felt like the move helped us in some areas and hindered us in others.  We will continue to tweak the play time of our players as we move through this last part of the season.  We've got to get a combination where we feel we give ourselves the best opportunity to win."

On Zeke Motta having his most extensive action:

"It was.  Zeke got some snaps in the secondary.  Schrader got some snaps playing in the offensive line as well.  I thought Zeke did a nice job; he had some plays on special teams.  It's always good to see young players show what they can do when they get their opportunity."

On how much stock you put in players like Antone Smith:

"I thought Antone showed some explosiveness when he got the ball in his hand.  I think it is going to be imperative that we try to get him incorporated into our offense.  You saw his speed and his ability to make people miss.  He is a guy that should and deserves some touches by what he did on Sunday afternoon."

On Jason Snelling and whether or not he is back with the team:

"Jason Snelling is back with the team, and he will be available to the media in open locker room after practice."

On Peter Konz and whether he has regressed:

"Well, we made a switch on Sunday, in terms of moving some guys around.  We were trying to put what we felt was our best five through our evaluation.  We didn't get the production we liked.  Our quarterback got hit three times; he got hit early in the ballgame.  After a fairly fast start of moving the ball down the field, we gave up two sacks and it knocked us out of field goal range.  Peter was playing a different position, a position he was playing last year for the most part.  It was a combination we put out there and we ended up changing it as the game progressed."

On having veteran leadership in the locker room:

"Yes, I do.  I really believe that.  I think right now this is a football team over the last four weeks that has not handled momentum changes extremely well in ballgames.  There has been a number of examples of that, where we do something on offense, turn the ball over, next two or three plays we give up explosive plays, give up a touchdown.  Our special teams has contributed, just like yesterday, we had a blocked punt.  We have not handled that very well.  It's my responsibility, it's not he players in the locker room, it's my responsibility as the head coach to make sure our guys are prepared and motivated to play."

On the offensive line never being able to develop continuity:

"I think that it is a factor.  It is not an excuse or a reason.  We've had a number of guys playing in different positions of any unit on the football team, it's the one you would like to see have the most continuous guys playing because they have to work together.  We haven't had that; we've had a different lineup quite often, guys playing in different positions.  We haven't been productive, and now we as coaches have to make decisions and put the best guys out there that we feel give us the best chance to win. "

On Joe Hawley:

"I thought Joe did a nice job at the center position in the ballgame yesterday, from my evaluation from watching the tape on the ride home."

On other positives he has seen that has impressed him for the future:

"Anytime that you've got a number of young guys playing, and we have a number of young guys who have had a lot of snaps, you've got to be impressed with some of their performances.  Paul Worrilow has done an outstanding job. He had another game of double-digit tackles, which has got to be impressive.  That is three games that he has come out and played extremely well.  Our corners have gotten lots of play, our defensive line; we've had young guys playing on the defensive line.  Those are the positives for the future, but when you talk about the future, the future in the NFL is the next game.  This game on Thursday is really about as far as you can look as a coach."

On this being the toughest stretch he has had:

"Absolutely, never experienced this many losses in a row.  It is a tough stretch, but you have to continue to work hard, stay focused and work to win the next game.  That is the only way you stop the streak and the streak right now is way too long in our opinion." 

On there still being six games left:

"Yes, we have six games left in the season.  I know this, our work ethic won't change.  We will probably work harder over these next six weeks than we've worked since we've been here.  We've got to get this turned around.   There is a standard and there are expectations as a coaching staff and we have as an organization.  Through these first ten games, we have not come close to what we are capable of doing."

On the defense and giving up 900 yards in the past two games:

"We've not played good defense.  Not only in the last two games, but we are not doing things very well. We're not tackling, some of the fundamentals of defensive football, we're not disengaging from blocks, and we're not winning the line of scrimmage, giving up explosive plays.  When opportunities arise, we've had some opportunities to make some plays, and we haven't made them. The one thing that you have is you have a limited number of players.  We have to continue to evaluate that, and we will.  We also have to look at things we are doing schematically and what we're asking our players to do."

On concern there might be more Saints fans on Thursday than Falcons:

"Absolutely not, our fans I think are the best in the NFL.  We've got a great record since we've been here in terms of winning football games. They've been very supportive.  I know that they are disappointed and they are discouraged, but there is nobody more disappointed and discouraged than us here in this building, on this football team.  They have been very supportive of everything that we do.  We certainly hope they will be out there supporting us this week.  It is a big division game, we need their help and we need their support."

On getting the support of the Arthur Blank this week:

"I appreciate Mr. Blank's comments, Thomas and Rich, but really my focus is on one thing and that is preparing and having our team ready to play against the New Orleans Saints and get a win."

On Corey Peters being out because of an injury or performance related issue:

"Injury related.  Corey has been fighting through on our injury report we give out every day we are practicing. He has been dealing with his knee.  He's missed some time early in the week.  We hope that he will be ready to go on Thursday, but it was not performance-related at all, it was injury related.  We felt like down in that humidity it was very humid yesterday in the low 80s, that we needed to make sure we had a good rotation going with our defensive line."

On being in an opposite position this time last year and how to use that as an advantage:

"Well, I know that we don't like them, they don't like us, and I think that is all that you have to say about the ballgame.  We want to beat them, they want to beat us.  The fans here don't like them, so it should be a fun night on Thursday night and we need to go out and compete and play the type of football that we know we are capable of playing."

On the most frustrating part for him this season:

"Well, there is nothing more frustrating than losing.  You're judged as a coach and as a team based on your record.  I am frustrated that we haven't been able to turn it around.  We've had a couple of losing streaks.  Historically, we don't lose back-to-back games and that is something that we've done twice and lost three and now we've lost four.  We've got to stop that, we've got to change that trend; we've got to be able to handle the momentum swings in football games.  I think that is probably the most frustrating thing is that we haven't handled the momentum swings the way that we need to.  Football is a game of winning the line of scrimmage.  It is a game of taking advantage of the momentum, and it is playing with confidence.  Right now, I don't' believe we are playing with a whole lot of confidence as a football team, and we need to change that."

On that being the sign of a young team that can't handle those swings:

"I think that is just a sign of a number of things.  One of them being a team that is not being coached as well as they need to be coached, and I will take full responsibility for that."

On Zeke Motta playing in the free safety spot:

"I thought he did ok in that spot.  He is a guy that has a body type more of a strong safety, but has some athleticism to play some free safety and we wanted to get him in there and get some snaps at the free safety position and I thought he did a pretty good job.  That was his first time of playing any significant play time in the regular season."

On the fans who don't believe your team can win another game this season:

"I don't believe our fans think that.  I certainly hope they don't think that.  This is a football team that is going to go out and give it their all, they don't quit.  They haven't quit, we just haven't executed the way that we need to execute on the field and haven't coached the way we need to coach as a coaching staff."

On being on national TV on Thursday and if that gives the team more emphasis to play better:

"Anytime you play on national TV, I think it gives you a little more juice, because everybody is watching.  It is the only game in town, so to speak.  It is an opportunity for our fans and our city to be showcased.  We need to go out there and put a good performance out on the field."

On evaluating the player performance more closely or scheme and play calls:

"I think that you have to look at all aspects of the game.  First and foremost, it is about the players.  Players have got to make plays when they are put in positions to have an opportunity to make a play, so that is first and foremost.  We are also looking at everything.  When you don't have success, you have to look at everything, and that is coaching, that is scheme, that is play calling.  We have to look at it all.  Our guys are working extremely hard.  Again, when we start talking about play calling, there is only one person responsible for play calling and that is me, and we haven't gotten it done.  "

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