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Transcript: Mike Smith Press Conference

Head coach Mike SmithOpening Statement:

"Hope everyone had a nice weekend.  We spent the weekend getting a jump on the Buffalo Bills.  Our players are off today, finishing up there long weekend.  We will get back together tomorrow afternoon and have our first practice.  It will be a little bit of the Bills, but it will mostly be about the Atlanta Falcons."

On tomorrow being like a Monday and the rest of the week being a normal schedule:

"Yes, tomorrow will be a Falcons on Falcons for about half the practice.  We will get a jump on Buffalo simply because we've had the opportunity to work this weekend. The afternoon on Thursday will be a little bit shorter; we want to get a jump on the game plan.  We will practice in the morning on Thanksgiving Day."

On how much remaining of the season will they use for player evaluation for next season:

"Well, I think you are always evaluating.  Players, coaches, we're always being evaluated every time we go out there on the field.  Our number one goal as we finish the season is to finish strong, win every football game.  It starts with this one in Toronto this week, but we will continue to evaluate all of our players.  There are some guys that have done a nice job, young guys that have not had an opportunity to participate in games or have a lot of participation.  If they continue to work like they have, they will get an opportunity to play on game day."

On Travian Robertson being one of those individuals:

"I think anyone that is on our 53-man roster is going to get an opportunity to play as we move forward.  It is going to be based on how they work and practice.  It will be based on previous games for some of our older players, but it will be an evaluation process that will be ongoing just like always."

On evaluating Sam Baker for next year and whether switching sides would help with his injury:

"No, that hasn't been a discussion point.  When you were asking me about Sam Baker in terms of his health, I was basically concerned about this season.  Sam had the procedure done; there will be no long term effects.  He is recovering right now and going through the recuperation process and the rehabilitation.  He'll be ready to go when we start our offseason program in April."

On what Buffalo does well offensively and defensively:

"Defensively, they can rush the passer.  They are tied for the lead in sacks.  The Williams brothers, although they are not really brothers, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams are very impressive.  Mario has 11 sacks. He can come off the edge, and he is a big, strong guy.  Kyle Williams is probably one of the toughest inside guys and very underrated in my opinion.  They are doing a very nice job in terms of taking the ball away with interceptions. They are doing a very good job in attacking the ball.  They're secondary is good on the offensive side of the ball.  They can run the football.  C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are very good running backs."

On anything he can't take a look at until the end of the season:

"No, I think you are always evaluating.  As I said, we are under evaluation every time we go out on the field.  Players and coaches more so on Sunday, because those are the 16 opportunities we get to go out there and show what we are capable of doing.  Our players have been under evaluation since we started back in April, the week of the draft.  They will continue to be under evaluation.  We need to get some of these young guys some experience and see how they handle playing in live action."

On how to get an evaluation of the other tight ends with Tony Gonzalez:

"Tony Gonzalez is going to be very productive for us.  He has been very productive.  Our number one goal is going to be wining the games, and having Tony Gonzalez on the field gives us the best opportunity to win.  We do have some two tight end sets that will get an opportunity, if we deem to have that in our game play, to evaluate those guys.  Again, our number one goal is to win the football game on Sunday.  We're not going to not try to win the football game and just go into a complete evaluation mode.  We are going to put the best players out there.  Obviously, we haven't gotten the outcome that we wanted. We are going to get some guys some opportunities that have worked extremely hard, and if they deserve it they are going to get the opportunity to go out there and play."

On expanding the brand and playing outside the U.S.:

"Well, we are looking forward to having an opportunity to go to Toronto this week.  I know that Buffalo has a couple of home games each year.  I haven't really given much thought to going out of the country.  I know that it is very good for the Atlanta Falcons brand and NFL brand for us to go overseas and expose more people to our game.  I know that it is watched on TV, and it gives people an opportunity to watch it in person."

On the game time against Green Bay being flexed:

"Well, our season has been disappointing.  We know that there is the potential to have flexible schedule at the end of the season.  We are going to play the game when the League tells us to play the game.  We are disappointed in the way that we've played through the first eleven ballgames, which I think I've stated many times, too many times."

On EJ Manuel:

"He is a big, athletic, strong quarterback.  He's got a strong arm.  He can run, uses his legs well.  They do have a twinge of the read option, so we have to be prepared for that.  I know that he is coming off of missing time with a knee injury, but he is a very athletic quarterback.  His draft status says that he has a chance to be a really good player in this League."* *

On how Sean Weatherspoon is looking in his two games back:

"Getting back into playing shape is probably the biggest thing you have to do as a player.  When you haven't played for seven or eight weeks and you go out and play every snap of the ballgame, we've got to get him back into football condition.  I know he is working extra with our athletic performance group, and Spoon is, like a lot of guys, very critical of himself.  I know there are plays that he would like to have back, but I think he has come back and given us a little bit of a jump.  I think statistically we did some good things in this ballgame we played last Thursday."

On the Bills defense having talent on all three levels:

"They've got some playmakers in the secondary, they really do.  They've got a young linebacker out of Oregon that is playing well, plays there middle linebacker, doesn't leave the field, plays in all of their packages.  Mike Patton is the defensive coordinator and I think he's got a very good understanding of multiplicity.  I've worked with Mike in Baltimore, he worked with Rex Ryan, so there are a lot of similarities to what we might see in what we saw with the Jets.  They've got a good defense, but I really think it is the upfront people who really make it go.  They can rush the passer and like I mentioned, they are tied for number one in the League in terms for creating sacks."

On looking ahead to the draft and the possibility to having the number one pick:

"Our focus as players and coaches is on the Buffalo Bills and it is on the next game.  I know that people have a different approach and a look to a season at different points in time, but I can assure you this, we're not concerned about our draft status.  We're concerned about winning the next game and putting a string together here at the end of the season."

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