Transcripts: Smith, Ryan Press Interviews

Head coach Mike SmithOn whether this game is a must win:

"I think every game that you play, you go into it with a must win attitude. It's the most important game because it's the next one, and we definitely need to play much better football than what we've played the last four weeks."

On adjusting the offensive line, and playing your third string center:

"Well, we've unfortunately had a number of injuries, and we've been especially hard hit in the offensive line. This is part of the NFL, and you have to deal with it, and I think we've done a good job. We've had depth early in the season; I think we've gone through it at this point in time, so it's going to be very important for us as coaches to get some guys up to speed very quickly because there's some guys that possibly have the opportunity to play that haven't been with us for very long."

On teammates describing James Stone as a very smart guy:

"I think James is a very good, young football player that understands the game to come in and play the center position as a rookie. He impressed us early on with his ability to identify fronts and change protections. He is an intelligent young guy, he just doesn't have any experience."

On whether Harry Douglas will be able to go today, and if he is close to going out and playing:

"Harry will do a rehab run today during practice, and we'll see how he gets through that and we'll make a determination and hopefully get him out participating in practice, but right now both he and Jonathon Babineaux will not participate in practice today."

On whether they're struggling with the time difference:

"I think that we put a plan in place with our players, and talked to them about a strategy to get acclimated as quickly as possible. I think it started on Monday morning when we arrived we got right off the plane and did a Play 60 appearance at a local school. Got the guys moving around and then we wanted them to stay up and long as they possibly could that first day. Then we got some strategies that we'd like for them to do when they get up early in the morning, open up the windows get the sunlight in. Again, this is something that our athletic performance guys presented before we left. I think it's worked well. I personally feel very acclimated. Of course I've done this a few times."

On if the NFL gets a team in London how difficult would it be for teams to adjust to the time difference throughout a season:

"Again, I think that there's some logistical things that would have to be worked out in scheduling, but I know that the League office has looked at it in many different ways, and I know that is something that is often talked about. Again, I don't know how they would exactly do it logistically, but I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility. London and the UK are becoming very good football fans and understanding it. I think it's something that the NFL is definitely looking at."

On how does Calvin Johnson change the way you prepare for the Lions:

"Well, Calvin Johnson is obviously one of the top receivers in the NFL. He's big, strong and fast player that creates matchup issues. Again, you've got to know where he is and know where he's going to align when he's playing, and you've got to put the resources into trying to take him out of the game. You're never going to totally take him out of the game, but you're going to have to put more resources because if you don't he's going to make his plays. He's a guy that you've got to always know where he's lined up on the field.

On Golden Tate becoming a weapon for the Lions during Calvin Johnson's absence:

"Absolutely. Golden has come in from Seattle and he's a very tough receiver. He plays with a lot of physicality, and he does a very nice job. He's kind of taken that role over the last few weeks when Calvin hasn't been in the lineup. If Calvin doesn't play, our focus will defiantly have to go to Golden Tate."

On their struggles away from the Georgia Dome:

"We always like to play in the Dome. If we could schedule all 16 then we would do it. That's not possible. We have to play the games and how they're scheduled. We're looking forward to the opportunity to play Detroit here at Wembley. Obviously, it's our home game so hopefully we're going to have some fans cheering for us."

On the offensive struggles:

"We have kind of regressed offensively over the last couple of weeks. We haven't played up to the level. We haven't been able to protect our quarterback like we would like to. We've got to do some things differently, obviously than what we've done the last three weeks. It's going to be very important for us to get off to a fast start, and gain some confidence because this is a very good Detroit Lions defense. Their markers, their numbers are at the top of the League at what we consider the most important defensive statistics, and most of them are in the top three."

On whether he's seen Arsenal's facilities:

"I have not. We'll be loading the busses and heading over. We had a group that came in early and has toured it, but from what I understand it's a beautiful facility and I'm looking forward to seeing it firsthand."

On the biggest challenge this team will have to face playing this game so far away from Atlanta:

"Well, I think the adjustment of the time change has been the biggest challenge, but really once we arrived here our players were off yesterday. Our logistics people have done a great job. The people here at the Grove have helped us immensely. We've got offices, meeting rooms set up, so we have been able to do everything like we would do it there at Flowery Branch. We've had the walk-thru, we just had to walk outside of our rooms, and the only difference is that we'll be bussing over to the Arsenal and their training facility. It's been good so far. Again, for us as coaches, we've been to the airport, we've been to an elementary school, and we've been here to the Grove. I just found out we have a beach here at the Grove as I walked over to this wonderful building that we have here."

On whether it's hard to keep focus with so many distractions being in another country:

"We need to be focused, and that's the thing, we're here to play a football game and that's the most important thing. We've gone through our preliminary game planning like we would normally do as a coaching staff. We installed this morning. The assistant coaches are installing right now, so we want to keep it as close as we possibly can to a regular week, and that's why we came over so early."

On struggling to put together long drives, and how do they get back to stringing together those kind of drives like the long drive vs Baltimore:

"Well, we made some plays. Our third down efficiency has not been what it needs to be. On that drive we were able to convert on third down, and when you convert on third down you're going to have more offensive snaps. The thing that we have to do, is we have to make the plays when the plays are presented to us, and there's going to be opportunities. It's such a fine line, in terms of making the play and not making the play. I thought our protection held up a little bit better. We made some adjustments at halftime, in terms of what we wanted to do protection wise, and we were able to move the ball that one drive. We had many opportunities in that game early on, and we weren't able to capitalize on them."

On being able to create pressure on Joe Flacco, and whether he's anticipating more of that this Sunday:

"I certainly hope so. I think that our defensive front has put more pressure over the last two weeks than we have all season long. So we anticipate that we'll continue to grow as a team that can put pressure on the quarterback. Even though we only had one sack in the ball game against the Ravens we did feel like we moved him off the spot. We did force two turnovers in the ball game on the defensive side, and that was improvement from the earlier games."

On whether he looks back on the Tampa Bay game with the players and say this is how it should be done:

"You're always reviewing game film, but we don't specifically go back to the Tampa Bay game. There are some plays that were played in the game that were done extremely well. Our focus right now is on the Atlanta Falcons first and foremost, for us to get better, and secondly for us to put a plan together that puts our players in the best position to succeed against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, and they've got a really good football team. They're leading their division at 5-2, and they're playing with a lot of confidence. It's going to be a big challenge for our guys this week."

On whether he's gotten out and had any fun since being in London:

"I have done my normal Monday and Tuesday, I guess the fun thing that we did is we got to spend some time with some kids with the Play 60 event. It was fun to watch some of their touchdown dances. That was probably the most fun that I've had since I've been here because we got back on the bus and headed here to the Grove and have not left. Basically, hallway, meeting room, sleeping room."

On if he's concerned about his guys going into the city last night:

"No. Tuesday is our day off. Our players have their day off, and we anticipated that the guys we're going to go in town and spend some time there, but they're focused today and I think the rest of this week. This is not any different week than what we'd normally have on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I think we have an event on Saturday that's a little bit different that we'll be spending time with some of the fans, stopping by for 30 or 45 minutes before we check into our downtown hotel there at Wembley Stadium.

On whether he's seen that toughness he's talked about before the season:

"We've not played the type of football that we're capable of playing. We haven't coached the type of football that we're capable of coaching. This is a business where you're judged on your wins and losses. We felt like we had to become a more physical football team, and we have made moves in the offseason to do that, and right now it has not translated into the wins that we had anticipated."

On still having a chance to win the division:

"Well, I think our division is wide open. As poorly as we feel like we have played, and as inconsistently as we have played we are right in the thick of the division race. It's going to be critical for us to get a win this week, and stay in the race. This is something that I think is going to go down to the wire. It's very bunched. It's a two game difference between first and last place and there's a lot of football to be played over the next nine weeks."

On whether he believes this team has a chance of making the playoffs even though they're struggling:

"I do. I'd say that the statistics show right now that this division is having a difficult time winning against teams outside of their division. I think that's an obvious statement. I do believe like every year it's going to be competitive. The team that starts playing consistently and more efficiently is going to be the team that's going to win our division. I really believe this, it's going to go down to the last couple of weeks of the season, and at this point in time every team is still in race. I don't know if that's the case in every division in the NFL right now."

On whether 8-8 could win the division:

"I'm not one about making predictions. I know this, the team that wins the most games is going to win it, and all of us are striving to the same thing. That's what this season is all about, you play the regular season to go to the second season, and the easiest way to get into the second season is to win your division and really it doesn't matter what your record is. Just a matter of whether you win the division or not because you get an opportunity to play in the playoffs.

Quarterback Matt RyanOn going against Detroit's defense:

"Some of the premier defensive lineman in the game, Suh's a very good player, and is playing at a high level. We're going to have to be solid up front; we really are. We're going to have to play well up front. We're going to have to have a good plan to account for where those guys are at, and that's what we're working on right now."

On whether this game is a must win:

"We're at a point in the season, with where we're at moving forward we're going to have to win. We feel like we're going to have to start winning this week. With that said, in division, there's reason to be optimistic, as that, and kind of as it's been the last couple of weeks, we're still right in the mix, and that's one of the reasons there's a lot of optimism and a lot of energy within our building. I think guys have the right mindset. Now it's time to go out there and play the way that we're capable of in all three phases. I think, at different times throughout the season, we've kind of played well in all three phases of the game. We just haven't really been able to put it together consistently. Offensively, we need to play better than we have."

On struggling to get the ball down the field against Baltimore:

"I think last week, really the first three quarters we were out of rhythm, and getting the ball down field we have to do a great job both running the football and pass protecting. I think both of those things kind of allow you to do some of your play action, and to take some more time in the pocket and throw it down the field a little bit more. We've also when we have opportunities with one-on-ones and guys like Julio (Jones) and Devin (Hester) having some deeper routes on the outside we've got to take chances at it. We're going to make the adjustments, certainly. That's a big part of what we've been here in the past is kind of an explosive offense, and we've got to find ways to create more explosive plays than what we did last week."

On whether he watches British futbol:

"Yeah, saw some of the game the other night. I was watching Manchester United play the other night. It was actually a really exciting game, but yeah, got to see some of that game the other night. I'm a fan. I like watching any sport, and when it's at the highest level. I've probably first started watching futbol when I was in college because I started playing the game FIFA. I started playing FIFA on X-BOX, and AC Milan was my team, so that doesn't work well here. As far as following teams here, obviously we know some of the bigger name teams. I'm excited to head over to Arsenal today, and they're nice to be letting us go over there and kind of use some of their space, but I think a lot of guys that are bigger futbol fans than I am are really excited about it."

On expressing confidence in James Stone and doing any extra work with the new rookie center and the importance of the quarterback/center relationship:

"Yeah, I definitely think it's very important. I think James has done a great job since the first day he walked into the building. I think he's a smart guy, and has picked up our offense very quickly. I think Mike Tice and Wade (Harman) have done a really good job of working with our young guys, and bringing them along. As far as doing extra this week, certainly. I think that's one of those things where he and I have to advance where we're at and our relationship as fast as we can. So we'll spend some extra time. It's kind of nice being able to be here at the hotel, 24 hours a day, and to be able to sneak down and watch a little extra film with him and just go through a couple of things to make sure that we're both on the same page, and we're both ready to go Sunday."

On setting up the run game to open up the pass game:

"I think two things: I think we need to score points early. We need to be in games, as opposed to playing from behind. We've had to do that a little bit the last couple of weeks. The other thing I think we need to do is stay ahead of the chains. I think on first down and second down we need to be more efficient, so that you get into more situations that are conducive to running the football. We've got to score some points early and then, I think we've got to be really efficient on first and second down."

On the hardest part of coming over to London:

"Our organization does a great job of making things easy for the players. I think the most difficult part was probably the first two days of being over here and getting acclimated to the time difference. As far as where we're at now, I think we're kind of into our normal routine of what we do during the week, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are all very similar for us week-to-week. I think guys have settled in. I really don't think it's going to be an issue. I think guys are kind of really excited about being in a different spot, a little change of venue, and playing in front of what we've heard is a great crowd."

On whether he's been to a futbol game in London:

"I never have. I've never been to a futbol game over here. It's a bucket list thing that I'd like to do at some point."

On whether players discuss a NFL team relocating in London:

"There's certainly been discussion that we've heard either on TV, or in papers or in magazines. As far as talked about in the locker room, not really. Other things come up before that, but it's a great place. It's a great town, and a great country, and the people have been super nice since we've been here. If it does happen in the future I think guys will be for it."

On whether an NFL team being in London would work with the long trips to England and America:

"Some of the west coast trips that we take as an east coast team are long trips as well, and you deal with some of those issues when you travel from Atlanta to Seattle; that's a long trip. I don't know. I haven't thought enough about it to really give you a quality answer on that."

On a London based team being in the NFC South:

"I don't know. We're lucky in our division, everybody's really close, and you got your hour and ten minute flight to each of those spots that you're going. I don't know. I'm sure there would be both. I'm sure there would be guys that are cool with it, and I'm sure there would be guys that would want to keep the division games closer to home."

On whether this trip is a distraction:

"I think given this situation that we're in as a team I think everybody's mindset is right. I think we don't have the luxury of distraction at this point. We've really got to focus in on what we're doing, and really try to get a win this Sunday.

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