FLOWERY BRANCH — The dust has settled after the Pittsburgh loss. I just went back over coach Mike Smith’s media briefing.
He was calm, cool and collected. But he was about as frank and open as he’s been in his three seasons as the Falcons head coach. He knows the Falcons let one slip away.
He didn’t point any fingers, but he didn’t absolve anyone from the loss to a good team that was playing with their third string quarterback.
The offense has to score touchdowns. He said it was a problem in the preseason and it was a problem against Pittsburgh.
He called out the offensive line, too, when he said, “We need to block better.”
The defense has to play harder and more consistent. (I actually thought they did a good job considering they had five new starters.)
The coaches, himself included, have to coach better.
He was really ticked off about Ovie Mughelli and Sam Baker committing holding penalties in overtime. He clearly wasn’t happy with Brent Grimes‘ miss-fit in overtime that led to the 50-yard touchdown.
His buzz word for the Grimes’ play is “consistent.” Every time you read him talking about the defense playing “consistently” he’s really talking about Grimes not having any lapses. (That’s just my media interpretation. He has not said that to anybody that I know of. But as soon as Brian Williams gets fully healthy, look for him in the lineup. Again, just another media interpretation.)
Here are some of the highlights:
ON MAKING BIG PLAYS: “We need to block better. We need to sustain our blocks better in the running game. I think that was evident (against the Steelers). Our longest run was 7 yards. I think that is something that we definitely have to do. When the opportunities are presented to our team, whether if it’s offense, defense or special teams, they have to make big plays.”
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE LAST RUN – MISS-FIT VS. PITTSBURGH FOLKS SAYING IT WAS GREAT EXECUTION: “Again, it’s all in the eye of who’s watching it. We were in eight-man spacing. We had a miss-fit. As you saw for the most part of the game, there wasn’t a 50-yard run. My hat is off to the running back. When he got into the secondary because of the leverage angle that we had, he went for 50 yards. It was an eight-man front. When we miss-fit it, there were two guys in one gap. When there is a guy in a gap they are not supposed to be, there is going to be a hole. It’s not acceptable for us to play that way for 60 minutes against the run and then to have that type of play happen.”
WHAT’S A MISS-FIT FOR THE FOOTBALLL LAY PERSON: “Somebody was out of their gap. That’s why that thing ran right up to the free safety.”
ON RODDY’S BIG DAY: “It was very good to see Roddy have the 13 catches and over 100 yards. I thought Roddy did some good things when he wasn’t catching the ball as well. I think that bodes well for us in the future. There are some things we can clean up. There are some areas in the passing game that involve him that we can clean up. We are pleased with his start.”
WHAT WERE THEY DOING TO TAKE TONY GONZALEZ OUT OF THE GAME?: “Each and every week people are going to come in with a game plan with who they want to stop. I thought that when they tried to take Tony away, Harry Douglas got into the action. I thought Harry had a number of catches. I think he was 3 for 3 in terms of being targeted. I thought Eric Weems was targeted four times and he had four catches. The thing you have to do is you have to be able to take what defenses are giving you. You have to realize what they are trying to defend and I think for the most part in the passing game, except for some errant throws that were caused by pressure, that we did a pretty good job. I thought Matt threw the ball well for the most part. Matt had a 61 completion percentage.”
WERE THEY TAKING AWAY THE VERTICAL ROUTES?: “There were some plays they were taking away the vertical game. There were some plays where they were taking away the underneath stuff. I think our longest completion was 23 yards.”
WILL YOU BE MORE AGGRESSIVE ON OFFENSE?: “We are evaluating everything that we do. . . It’s been an issue for our football team as well in the preseason. As well as (against the Steelers). When we get on the plus side of the 50, we have not been able to be as efficient as we have on the other side of the 50. It’s something that we definitely have to address schematically and mentality-wise. It’s something we have to do. When you get on the plus side of the 50, field position is so important in these games. As you saw, when you get on the plus side of the 50 you have to make sure that you are coming away scoring touchdowns and not attempting field goals.”
ON THE BACK TO BACK SACKS, ESPECIALLY BIERMANN’S: “It was very important for us to be able to put pressure on the quarterback at a crucial time. I know that at times throughout the game we were OK with our pressure. When we had to get it done, we got those back to back sacks when we had to get the ball back to our offense. . . in a close ball game. I’ll take sacks in the last five minutes of the ball game 3 to 1 than when they take place in the first quarter. Those sacks are when you have to go make plays. It was good to see our defense put together those two consecutive plays and knock the offense back.”
ON THE TWO OVERTIME PENALTIES. THEY HURT YOUR DRIVE: “That might be an understatement. In terms of what we want to try to do on each and every week. We stand up. We take about our three musts, of what we must do. One of them is play penalty free football on special teams because the penalties on special teams are spot fouls. It maybe only a 10-yard foul, but if the return it out 40 yards, they are going to be bring it back to the spot of the
foul and mark the penalty off from there. It’s very difficult to be efficient when you start your drive inside the 10 yard line. That was a very (tough) penalty in the ball game. We also had a penalty on a third down that would have keep the drive alive. We only had three enforced penalties during the ball game and two of the three were in overtime. That is a big concern because that is crunch time. It’s really not overtime. It’s sudden death. Obviously, we didn’t perform up to our capabilities in that overtime.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GET JONATHAN (BABINEAUX) BACK THIS WEEK: “It will be great to get Jonathan back. Jonathan is a guy who can create negative plays. . . it will be great to get him back into our rotation this week.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE REVAMPED DEFENSE PLAYED?: “Inconsistently. In terms of effort and technique. We have a lot of things that we have to correct. We were inconsistent in terms of what we wanted to get done with our technique. We can play at lot harder. We gave up two explosive plays. We gave up a 50-yard pass which ended up not leading to points because of Michael Peterson’s interception. We are all aware of the 50-yard run there at the end of the game. We had four explosive plays. Two of the plays were for a total of 100 yards. That’s something we definitely have to address. But that’s a team that’s well coached. Bruce Arians did good job. I thought their quarterback managed the game for them and my
hat is off to them. If we can play a little bit more consistently I see some promising things from the new group. But (against Pittsburgh) we were way too inconsistent.”
WAS IT PROMISING WHAT THEY DID ON THIRD DOWNS?: “Third downs is something that you have talked about and we have talked about as an organization. Last season we were horrendous as a third down defense last year. I thought that we were able to do some things and keep them under 30 percent. They were 4 of 14 (28.6 percent) if I’m not mistaken. That’s going to bode well for us. If we can continue to win on third down it’s going to eliminate our exposure to offensive snaps. In this day in age, you have to try to eliminate your exposure.”
WHAT ABOUT HOLDING THEM TO 9 POINTS IN REGULATION: “That’s something that you definitely can build on. But I also know that we have to get the things corrected that we did not do well in the ball game. That’s not just the players. That’s the coaches and that’s starting with me. It’s not just the 45 guys that we dressed. It’s all of us. We’ve got to improve from week one to week two.”