Head coach Mike SmithOpening Statement:
"Obviously, we didn't finish the game off yesterday, 17 minutes to go with a 10 point lead, and that's something we've got get better at. With that I'll open it up for questions.
On his thoughts on the offensive and defensive lines after film review:
"Well, in terms of the offensive line I thought that they did a good job. In terms of the sacks, we only gave up one sack, albeit it was at a crucial time in the football game. We had too many pressures. I thought we were a little bit edgy, but for the group to come together in such a short time, I thought Coach Tice and his guys did a very good job. I think we can be better, and we will be better moving forward. I thought on the defensive line, and on the defense I saw much better run fits. There were a couple of times that we lost the edge, three times specifically where we gave up two explosive plays, and a nine yard run, but for the most part I thought that we improved as a defense in terms of our run fits."
On settling for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns:
"When you're playing a good offensive team, and most teams in the NFL are good offensive teams, and you don't score and you settle for field goals you feel like you're giving up points. We did not do a good job. We had two opportunities where we had the ball inside the five yard line and we had to settle for field goals. That in turn made our red zone efficiency 1-3, and it contributed to our very poor third down efficiency as well."
On being confident on whether or not he has the people and offensive scheme in place to get things corrected:
"Absolutely, I think that this season our red zone efficiency has been much better. We did not execute. We had a number of snaps; we had a run play that was a minus yardage play on the first red zone drive where we didn't get the guy knocked down at the line of scrimmage, but I have all the confidence in the world. We did not execute. We had four or five snaps inside the three yard line during the ball game. When you have those you got to make people pay. You have to score touchdowns when you're down there."
On not running the ball on the fourth and one call in the fourth quarter:
"Well, it was a little over a yard. Again, the play call was based on the look to where the ball would go. Unfortunately, we did not protect well. That was probably the poorest protection that we had all game, and it was on a fourth down and one, and we weren't able to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands."
On the characteristics of finishing games:
"The characteristics are you make plays when they're presented. I think we did not take advantage of the opportunities throughout the game. There were plays in the first half that I think if we would've made it would've been a different score at halftime, but you got to make plays when they're presented. You've got to take the most of those opportunities and we didn't do that yesterday. We are sitting here yesterday saying, 'Man, I wish would've made that play,' or, 'Man, we should've made that play,' and we didn't make those plays. When you don't make those plays in the NFL you're going to get the outcome that we got yesterday, and that's not the outcome that we want."
On his decision making on the fourth and one call and how close he was to actually punting the football:
"We had not stopped them. We had one stop in the second half of the game. The other drives were all scoring drives. That was the determining factor. We had talked about it during the week. There was a situation early in the game, just to talk about; we had to punt from the 37 or 38 yard line. It was fourth down and eight. It was a not a high percentage play. Fourth downs and one in the NFL are really, fairly high percentage plays. I felt like we needed to get that first down and continue on down the field to get seven points. We had not moved the ball. We had one really efficient play, and that was the long scoring play by Antone Smith in the second half. Next question, if you ask, 'Would I do it again?' Absolutely. You don't get second chances and second guess yourself. That's something that you make that decision and you live with it."
On using Antone Smith more:
"Again, Antone has been very efficient for us when he's touched the football. I think a lot of it has to do with he's got great speed, but I think a lot of it has to do with the plays that he's been in, and how people have tried to defend us. Yesterday's game it was cover zero, Matt got the ball out of his hands, when it's cover zero there's no defense in depth. Everybody's running with another man, and he outran him. He's had a number of opportunities where he's been in and we caught them in the right defense, and he's done an outstanding job. Antone is one of many guys that we have. We never go into a game and say, we're going to have 'x' amount of touches for this player, 'x' amount of touches for that player. We have packages that are in place, that we have designed to get guys touches, but we never go in and say we're going to make sure he gets this many touches. Antone has earned more touches by what he's done thus far in the first five games."
On whether Antone Smith being in too much could have a diminishing return:
"I'm not going to talk about their strengths and weakness, and the skill-sets of players. You see it not only our team, but you see it across the League that there's certain things and certain areas, and certain formations and plays that you want that player in on, and there's other certain formations and plays that you want other players in on."
On the morale of the locker room after injuries and back-to-back losses:
"There's a lot of football left. We're disappointed in the outcome of the game yesterday. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, and if it's the only thing you take from this press conference: We've played five football games. We've been inconsistent. We're 2-3. Do we like where we're at? No, but there's a lot of football left to be played, and our number one goal is to win the NFC South because that's the cleanest way into the second season, and there's a lot of football to be played. This is a very competitive division. You can look at the records of the teams right now and see, it's going to be another competitive year. I really believe that."
On defensive players being upset that offense went for it on fourth and one and him telling the defense make me believe in you by getting more stops in the second half:
"Well, yes. That would be one of the answers. I would have other answers as well. You have to go on what has taken place not only in that game, but what has taken place in the first five games of the season. This football team is the 2014 Atlanta Falcons."
On getting Justin Blalock and Harry Douglas back against the Chicago Bears:
"I certainly hope so. They can definitely help us win games. We will have an injury report on Wednesday. If there is some news that you guys need to know between now and Wednesday, like I always do, I'll let you guys know on Tuesday, but I don't anticipate that we will be having any talk on Tuesday. We're certainly hoping that these guys will be back to help us win ball game on Sunday against the Chicago Bears."
On getting Drew Davis back at practice:
"Drew Davis is getting to time period where he can come off the PUP. I know that he's gotten very good reports from the doctors, and when we make that transaction, which we certainly hope happens in the very near future because Drew would be an excellent guy to add back to our roster, not only on offense, but on special teams as well."
On if the team is in a better spot now than after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game:
"Are we in a better spot? I think so. The one area that we are really struggling with is consistency. One thing I can tell you is we've been consistently inconsistent as a football team, and as a coaching staff. That's something that we have to address, and everyone has to address. There's many ways that you win football games. There's many ways that you can lose football games, and it's such a fine line. We've done some things that have hurt ourselves more so than people have stopped us. I think if you really evaluate it, we've been our own worst enemy in the first five games."
On anything in particular when it comes to being inconsistent:
"Well, I can start with there's inconsistency on the offensive side of the football on third down. When you're one of the top teams and you go out and have a three conversion game out of 12 or 13 – 15 percent – when you're numbers and your makers are much, much higher than that. We've been very good in the red zone thus far, and our red zone efficiency yesterday was not good. We took over with a great play on the 21 yard line, with a fumble off the kickoff – we stole a possession in that case – and you should be able to take the ball, we need to be able to take the ball in and put it in the end zone in that situation. We need to finish the second quarter with the two minute drive. We drive all the way down there and have two plays inside the two-yard line and can't get it in. We're getting the ball back on the first drive of the second half, so you can start doing the math and start putting it together and see that we left a lot of plays out there and we did not maximize our opportunities as an offense. On the defensive side we've been very inconsistent, in terms of our run fits. It's been well documented. I thought it was much better in the game yesterday, but again I think through the third and fourth quarter we had a hard time in getting the stop and forcing a punt. "
On not being able to stop the run being because of the defensive line play:
"Yes. Well, again, I think that the defensive line did a nice job and we were fitting better with our linebackers, and I thought (Kemal) Ishmael did a very good job when he was the eighth element in the box. Again, it's all three levels that contribute to stopping the run and stopping the pass."
On whether or not the coaching techniques and tips is being lost in translation with the players:
"I'm not sure what you're actually asking there. We have not been consistent, and ultimately that lies on the coaches and the coaching staff and that lies on me. You can talk about the players making plays, we haven't made plays. Ultimately, there's one person that's held responsible for the football game, and that's me. We've got to do a better job of putting our guys into position and when the opportunities come up we've got to be putting our guys in better situations."
On if comes down to players trusting the coaching staff, or players just sticking to their job and not trying to do too much:
"I think when you're on the field I think it's players trusting players because coaches stand on the sideline. As a coach you train your players. You try to put them in the best position possible. Obviously, we haven't done a good enough job because we haven't gotten the outcomes that we want. It's important for everybody to realize that they have a job to do, and you have to have a do-your-job-mentality. We don't need anybody to be Superman. We need to go out and do your job and the plays will come, and it's a fine line. I can think of five plays on offense, five plays on defense that if it would've gone a different way, we would be having a completely different conversation in here. In terms of how we formatted some things in the coaching side of it, a ball being overthrown or underthrown; a guy getting his foot in, that's just the way it is in the NFL, and we only get 16 opportunities to do this. I say it all the time and we've got to take advantage of it. I got to make sure that our guys are ready and that they go out and they execute to the best of their abilities, and their abilities are good enough for us to win football games, lot of them."
On when he looks at film are guys where they are supposed to be, doing what they're supposed to be doing:
"At times they are, and at times it's not. Again, it's a fine line. We've got to be better scheming as coaches, and we have to take that responsibility and then when the players are out there they have to do their job as well. We're all in this together, I don't think that there's any doubt that we're not. We as coaches we try to collaborate with the players as much as we can, in terms of getting their feedback, and then we have to go and do what we do as coaches and that's to put together a game plan that accentuates the positive plays and the positive attributes of our players. Then they have to go out and execute them."
On whether he's concerned with Robert Alford's four penalties yesterday:
"Well, we can't have those penalties. They were really, on the defensive side, two crucial penalties on third down; there were two crucial penalties there in the end zone. There was defensive holding call on a sack that would've put us at third down and 13, instead it was first and goal. We jumped offsides twice on a third down and one, and a third down and four. Those are critical plays. You can't have third down penalties and just give them a free play. We've got to make sure that Robert and all of our defensive players make sure how the game is going to be called, what is defensive holding, and what is illegal contact. Again, this is a point of emphasis that's been going on all through the preseason and it's continued through to regular season, and obviously we haven't done a good enough job as a coaching staff, and I haven't done a good enough job in letting Robert Alford know how the game is going to be officiated and what he needs to do."
On Dezmen Southward's play:
"Dez made a very good play. You can see Dez running, his ability to run on the third down play to get us off the field. Dez continues to progress and that's a positive. We need these young guys to step up and help us win football games, and I thought that he made a step forward in the ball game yesterday."
On Josh Wilson's play:
"Josh's been practicing extremely well. As we said, we're going to put the guys out there that practice the best, and I thought that Josh made some plays. He made a nice play on a burst screen, had a couple of pass breakups, and Josh has earned those snaps. I think he'll continue to get them."
On Devin Hester seeing his old team this weekend:
"Well, I think that every player that's been in this League long enough, and if he changes teams that he's going to have an opportunity to play against his former team. It's not really a big deal. I think that Devin looks forward to playing every game. He's very passionate about playing football, and this is the most important game because it's the next one. I don't think that we'll have to calm him down, he's a very level headed player and goes out and makes plays. I think he'll do that again on Sunday. I think he'll make a lot of plays."