Mike Smith: ‘We coached a very poor football game’

110115 Atlanta - Falcons head coach MIke Smith reacts as his quarterback Matt Ryan walks off the field after throwing his first of two interceptions to the Green Bay Packers during 2nd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011.     Curtis Compton  ccompton@ajc.com

110115 Atlanta - Falcons head coach MIke Smith reacts as his quarterback Matt Ryan walks off the field after throwing his first of two interceptions to the Green Bay Packers during 2nd quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons coach Mike Smith met with the media on Sunday to discuss the playoff loss to the Packers.

He said, “The sky was not fallen” and thinks the Falcons will rebound from the worst lost in playoff history.

“We coached a very poor football game,” Smith said.

Here’s what Smith had to say:

OPENING STATEMENT: “After watching the tape I felt like we did some very uncharacteristic things in terms of doing the things you’ve got to do to win a football game. I really felt like there was a big momentum swing after we ran the kickoff back for a touchdown. On that next drive, there were three penalties that continued the drive. We had illegal contact on a sack in the endzone that gave them a first down and then of course we had a penalty that put the ball down on the two-yard line. The perception in this League is you’re only as good as your last game. It’s really not reality but that is the perception in this League and we know it as a football team. I want to say we won 13 games this year. Our team, through the season, did some very good things. We did not play good football last night. It was not the way that this team normally does business.”

ON EXIT INTERVIEWS: “We’ve done exit interviews. In fact we’re in the process of doing them right now. We’ve been here since early this morning. Players have been coming in shifts based on their seniority. We’ve had our final team meeting. They have exit interviews with not only their position coaches and coordinators, but they had their exit physical as well. There are a lot of guys that are disappointed in that room and they should be because you don’t get the opportunities very often to be where we were at in terms of this season. If you’re asking specifically about guys, I’m not going to comment specifically about any one guy. We’re disappointed, but we’ve got to put it behind us and make sure that we do everything in our power to get better as a team.”

ON THE OFFSEASON SCHEDULE: “We have a plan in place in terms of the offseason. Of course, that’s all predicated on what happens between now and March third or fourth. Our plans as a coaching staff, not to get into too much detail, is next week we have a commitment that we have to go and coach the Pro Bowl. That’s going to take time away from our offseason analysis but we will start that as soon as we get back. The week of the Super Bowl we’ll do system analysis in terms of evaluating everything that we do from top to bottom. We’re going to do everything in our power, myself, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the entire staff and the entire organization to make our team better for next year. That is the goal each and every year.”

ON POSSIBLE CHANGES TO THE COACHING STAFF: “No, in fact we hope we can have continuity on our coaching staff. I think our coaching staff is one of the best or not the best in the NFL. I think that you want to have continuity with your players; you want to have continuity with your staff. I think our staff has done a great job this year preparing our team each and every week, even though there were a couple of games that we didn’t play our best. I want to say this, the Green Bay Packers were the better team last night. That’s how you’ve got to approach it each and every week because the dynamics change in this League from week to week.”

ON PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS CUTTING UP HIS SECONDARY: “Aaron had a great game. I think I was involved in one other game, I’ve seen Tom Brady have a game like that where you used to quote the talking heads ‘he’s on fire’, well he was on fire. But, there were a number of opportunities especially on third down yesterday where we had opportunities to make plays and we didn’t get them done. We had four opportunities to get the quarterback on the ground, the penalty on the third down on a sack changed the whole complexion of the football game in terms of a field goal attempt to a touchdown. Aaron had a good game. Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy had a good game plan. Their receivers caught the ball and we didn’t play up to our level and up to the capabilities that we have as a team. It’s something that you run into.”

ON HOW HE HANDLED THE DEFEAT: “I Didn’t get much sleep last night. I think there’s not only myself, but there’s 20 coaches, there’s staff members of the organization, probably fans that didn’t sleep well because we did not perform up to our abilities last night. As the head coach, you search for answers and that’s something that we’re going to make sure that we address. We have to look from the top down starting with me in terms of preparation for that ballgame and how we prepared.”

ON THE BYE WEEK: “I don’t think it hurt us. We had a very good week of practice. Someone asked last night did I think that the weather was an excuse, we’re not going to make excuses in terms of our preparation. I thought our guys were very prepared. They were focused. I thought up through the first quarter that it was a very competitive game. As I mentioned earlier, the momentum changed and we could not turn it back in that second quarter. There were a number of plays even though the score was such a one sided score, I still believe it came down to five or six crucial plays in the ballgame that really made a difference. We can say that each and every week. Sometimes we’re saying it on a positive note, sometimes we’re saying it on a negative note. Unfortunately, we’re talking about the negative today.”

ON THE SEASON: “The sky is not falling I can assure you that. We played a very poor football game last night in terms of the performance. We coached a very poor football game. Everybody in that room has ownership of that and it starts with me. I don’t think you want to over react. You’ve got to take time. You sit back and you analyze and you go through that analysis and you make decisions in the calm after you’ve been able to take the emotion out of it. If you go on emotion right now, you’re probably not going to like what you’re thinking.”

ON ANY POSITIVES HE CAN TAKE FROM THE SEASON: “The first one is that we won 13 football games and ultimately that’s how you’re judged. I think that our scoring offense and scoring defense, which is the second most important thing, we were fifth in the League on offense and fifth in the League on defense. We wanted to control the clock in our time of possession, we were third in the League in time of possession. We wanted to be the least penalized team in the League, during the regular season we were the least penalized team in the League. We wanted to win the turnover margin and have it significantly in our favor, and we were third or fourth in the League. Now, those are the things that we did during the regular season that you can take as a positive. We need to now take that into the second season. Again, our expectations as a football team have grown since we got here three years ago in terms of where we think we can be and where we want to be. We’ll keep those internally, but we’ve got to make sure that now going forward that we take the things that give us the plan for success during the regular season into the second season. Ultimately when your expectations are raised you’re not necessarily talking about just the regular season, you start talking about the second season and that’s something that we’ve earned as a football team and as an organization and we’re going to have to be able to deal with it because we plan on being in this situation again very shortly.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter

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252 comments Add your comment

Matt

January 17th, 2011
12:08 pm

Wow, Coach Smith for the “Captain Obvious Award” 2011!! I didn’t see any real adjustments being made by Coach VanGorder to stop Rodgers dissection of the D and Mularkey’s game plan was far, far too conservative, even when the Falcons had the lead. Really disappointed in the coaching staff, especially since they had two weeks to get ready for this game.

Jim

January 17th, 2011
12:11 pm

YADA YADA YADA

The Real Falcon

January 17th, 2011
12:11 pm

I was there and I was not happy with what I saw. We WERE outcoached.
However I will be there next year for every game again. We will be there again and we will get better!
GO FALCONS!!

DUFFERDAWG

January 17th, 2011
12:12 pm

the only thing/stat that matters is 0-2. Which is your playoff record coach !

Jim

January 17th, 2011
12:13 pm

Teach your players how to tackle,do away with three man rushes,get a legit runner and a legit 2nd reciever, and someone who can ruch and TACKLE a qb.

Preston

January 17th, 2011
12:16 pm

I truly believe that this will be an experience that these coaches and players will learn from. Go Falcons in 2011-12!

Michael J

January 17th, 2011
12:17 pm

No, you won’t be judged on winning 13 games. You will be judged on squandering homefield advantage and embarrassing the city. Unlike your team, the fans showed up Saturday. Yeah, we left early, but your team checked out long before the end of the third quarter.

Preston

January 17th, 2011
12:17 pm

I do hope that they go out and get some DB’s and another beast DE to complement Abraham though!

Hose

January 17th, 2011
12:23 pm

I though early in the game the defense played well. We had the momentum. With a lead the offense shouldve of been more creative. With the lead the defense shouldve been more aggresive. All of a sudden it turned into a sieve. Bend, dont break? It broke!

jtdawgfan

January 17th, 2011
12:25 pm

very, very disappointed.

the elephant in the corner of the room stares directly at Mike Smith and Matt Ryan: 0-2, Ryan with 6 turnovers, and Smith’s teams playing some of their poorest in the most important games of the year.

MMA is stupid

January 17th, 2011
12:25 pm

This team looked like it was coached by Mark Richt and company. Totally unprepared, totally out played, out coached and just like my Dawgs…embarassing.

Games like this will never get you the national respect that you so desire. Games like this will cause all people to think its a fluke.

Oh…and you can STOP calling Ryan “Matty Ice”. Thank God, because that is the worst nickname ever.

jimmya

January 17th, 2011
12:26 pm

all i want to know is where was # 88 tony g in the first half the announcers didnt even call his name

PMC

January 17th, 2011
12:26 pm

It’s cool he’s taking responsibility but, this team STILL lacks talent.

13-3 put them ahead of the curve.

Robinson needs to be cut. That was a mistake. Chris Owens. Cut. Mistake.

They’ve GOT to go find more and better talent. Robinson has been a tremendous bust.

jtdawgfan

January 17th, 2011
12:28 pm

Hose, I assume you meant offense.

The only person I saw play defense for the Falcons on Saturday was Nicholas’ strip on the first drive when the other 10 clowns on the field tripped on their oversized shoes trying to catch Jennings.

Got 2 B

January 17th, 2011
12:28 pm

Smitty’s right about the coaches being culpable… It seemed the players just weren’t prepared to play in that type of game. And is it now OK to admit that Dunta aint all that?

Jake

January 17th, 2011
12:28 pm

Thinking about the Steelers/Ravens game that preceded the Falcons debacle, I saw two teams with serious attitude. There were guys out there who wanted to bite somebody on the neck. I don’t see that in the Falcons.

Put it in a baseball context: the Braves under Bobby Cox were always a one-speed team, which is why they only won the World Series once. They didn’t know how to ratchet their game up at playoff time. The Falcons are a nice team, but they’re going to have to develop an edge, some serious resolve, if they want to win in the playoffs.

Mikey

January 17th, 2011
12:28 pm

Enter your comments here

brad a

January 17th, 2011
12:31 pm

when we blitz we have to learn to come in under control. way too easy for the qback to sidestep the rusher and complete the pass. time and again this happened in both the no game and the packer game.

Just Sayin'

January 17th, 2011
12:31 pm

Notice that the 4 remaining teams in the hunt are cold weather teams that DON’T play in a dome. Football the way it was meant to be played…in the rain, mud and the snow.

DRH

January 17th, 2011
12:31 pm

The loss I can handle. It’s the embarrassment and blowout that is hard to swallow. I really thought the last team with ball would win the game. This game was over way before halftime.

Northern Bird

January 17th, 2011
12:34 pm

Super dissapointed with how we played Sat night. Everything was off; the discipline on penalties, the play calling, the execution on the field.
I thought this game turned to the Packers when we threw that ill-advised out to Roddy with 10 seconds left in the 2nd Qtr. What were they thinking ? Everybody in the building new we were going to the sidelines with that throw. D Led, you would have picked it off yourself!
Just a brutal play call there. Had we stayed put, and maybe kicked a field goal from 50 out, we would have gone into half down by 4.
After the half, GB stalled on their first drive. ATL scored on the following drive. We would have been up by 3 points with about 10 to go in the 3rd qtr. Bah, what a way to finish the season.

Johnny D

January 17th, 2011
12:35 pm

Did anyone even prepare for this game? Did they practice. Look at the tapes? It seems the other team was prepared. The Defensive Coordinator needs to be fired. Horrible play calling on the defense playing zone and giving them 15 – 20 yards at a time.

dylandawg

January 17th, 2011
12:35 pm

The game was a huge disappointment but the Falcons are on the right track. If anything they arrived a year early so expectations got a bit out of whack. The whole Ryan stinks, Smith stinks etc. is a joke. Unless you are willing to say Brady and Pats coach are also terrible. They did the same thing. The defense still lacks players. There is no reason to think that Dimitroff and Smith won’t fix it.

opie

January 17th, 2011
12:35 pm

DOL: More Excuses. You are judged on postseason wins not regular season wins. The ATL Braves were the regular season champs from 1991-2005 but at least the won a World Series. Rex Ryan defense against Peyton manning and Tom Brady are what true adjustments are about.

One again I reiterate How many championships has Martyball Won? How many top 10 defensive finishes has Jack Vanessa Delrio or Mike Smith ever had in Jacksonville of Atlanta? Mike Smith had nothing to do with the Ravens defensive scheme in 2000 it was Marvin Lewis Defense.

Navigator

January 17th, 2011
12:36 pm

Hopefully Mularkey will find a job elsewhere. He was like a schizophrenic Saturday, not being able to set up any cohesive offense. Let’s not forget that the two touchdown drives were Ryan running the no-huddle, rather than Mularkey doing the calls. That says volumes to me, so maybe they need to adapt the Indy method of letting the QB make most of the calls and only sending certain plays. Why does some guy (who never played QB) sitting up above the action think he understands the flow as well as the guy in the huddle (never understood this change in philosophy). I think the coaches are control freaks and that’s why few QB’’s are allowed to make the calls. Do you honestly think a good QB would regularly leave himself 3rd and long???

Mac

January 17th, 2011
12:36 pm

Just another out coached-out foxed team and a terrible IMPLOSION by the entire Falcon team!
I wonder..are the assistant coaches..both offense & defense too dam stupid to make adjustments as the game progresses..OR..are they under strict orders from “smitty” to change NOTHING?

rebeldawg

January 17th, 2011
12:37 pm

Wow, the only stat that matters is 0-2 in the playoffs? Tell that to a Lions, Browns, Bills fan. I can assure you they would be more than happy to be 0-2 in the playoffs the last three years. Mike Smith is doing his job better than over half the league. Honestly though, there isn’t much you can do as a team or coaching staff when a QB has a game like Rodgers did.

DTB

January 17th, 2011
12:38 pm

Falcons should have worn their throw back uniforms. The red helmets/black jerseys are much better.

JR

January 17th, 2011
12:38 pm

THE MOST TELLING STATISTIC, IN MY OPINION, IS THAT GREEN BAY DID NOT PUNT ONE TIME. HELLUVA COMMENTARY ON THE DEFENSE.
I ALSO THOUGHT THAT THEY WERE A BIT CLASSLESS WITH THE PILING ON OF POINTS WITH FIELD GOAL ATTEMPTS. A CLASSIER TEAM, THE BEARS, JUST RAN THE BALL IN THAT SITUATIION.

Fansince66

January 17th, 2011
12:39 pm

13-3… one and done… at the start of the season, I didn’t expect either of those. Enjoy your Trip to Hawaii Coach! You earned it.

TRUTH Hurts

January 17th, 2011
12:40 pm

Season ticket holder here, I am ready for a new head coach. There I said what needed to be said.

Veronica B

January 17th, 2011
12:42 pm

Mike you have done a wonderful job since coming to the Falcon, I know we didn’t win the playoff game, I believe there were something we did. Green Bay know that we didn’t have a different game plan ,I believe we will go all the way in 2011-2012. I will always be a Falcon fan.

Hoop235

January 17th, 2011
12:42 pm

It’s obvious that we still need to upgrade the defense, but all in all I still like the direction of this team. Thanks for the third straight winning season with the #1 seed to boot!! It’s still good to be a Falcons fan.

Mikey

January 17th, 2011
12:43 pm

“We coached a very Poor Football Game” Smitty, you had 2 weeks to prepare against a team that you had already beat this year. A team with virtually NO consistant running game which relies on short quick passes to talented receivers. May I suggest you study the NY Jets defense against a superior passer if you want to win your first playoff game. Ps. Is there ANY reason that you had only 1 pass thrown (3rd. quarter) to the best tight end in football history???

TBone

January 17th, 2011
12:43 pm

The Packers just exposed the weaknesses most of knew existed from the beginning. Well maybe exposed and exploited the weaknesses. I think the Falcons did a wonderful job during the course of the year masking the deficiencies but the Packers just gave us a good old fashion butt-whipping.

schlame

January 17th, 2011
12:44 pm

Defensive secondary cannot stop the pass because the defensive line can’t put the pressure on the qb.This the same deal year end and year out.We need hard nosed lineman that can put it on somebody.1 big play every 8 doesn’t cut it. Look at the steelers approach ravens,packers,jets,bears,even the young patriots.We seem to be stuck in the bend [marion[swampy] campbell] but don’t break routine.That’s BS We need to hit somebody and hit somebody till they are silly.

Carl

January 17th, 2011
12:44 pm

The team was not prepared mentally for a playoff game. It’s hard to believe, but that is it. After the game in Arizona 2 years ago, in which we were the better team, you would have thought it would have been different this time. Of all the records broken in this game, I would think one would be NO PUNT by one of the teams in a playoff game. If the Falcons want to see what a playoff game looks like, see Jets-Patriots. There was more intensity from the defense in the Saints game, at least for 3 quarters. I think the fans would like to see a specific response from the Falcons as to what is going to be done…other than what a wonderful coaching staff we have. Mr. Blank?

Top Cat

January 17th, 2011
12:45 pm

Been a Falcon fan since childhood, and the inception of the team…And though we’ve been here before, I do believe we have the best organization we’ve ever had!…Still need more talent…DT to provide push up the middle;DB’s that can cover, and blitz successfully;a speed back (I’m assuming Norwood is done); perhaps a Receiver who can get separation;OL etc…If Jerry and ‘Spoon’ pan out to tne max next year it will help tremendously but…who knows, we said the same for years about Anderson!…We’re a good team…hope we can become a great team! Thanks Birds! for a fun season! Go Falcons!!!

TRUTH Hurts

January 17th, 2011
12:46 pm

I was talking to people who didn’t attend the game – they said they turned the channel in the third qtr. You people are terrible fans 1) for not spending your money to be there 2) for turning the channel.

Brave New World

January 17th, 2011
12:47 pm

Chill out. It was one bad game that Coach Smith and the team have taken responsibilty for. Would it be better if he fired his coaches, benched Matt Ryan and started over from scratch? Get real.

This team made me proud all year and I’m still proud of the season they had. For those fans that live and die with a win or loss, I say you have a sad, sad existence my friend.

Pet a dog, go for a walk, do something constructive with your life.

Waffle House or Bust

January 17th, 2011
12:47 pm

It was a poorly coached game from Smith. But I have a problem with Ryan looking nervous instead of having a killer instinct like Rodgers had. When the Falcons scored Rodgers looked like he could care less. When Ryan threw that interception in the end zone he looked like a kid that had his blanket taken away. Actually, the whole Packers team had a swagger I don’t remember seeing all season from Falcons. Grow up Ryan and be a confident leader or this team is going nowhere.

Now who wants to go to Waffle House?

FIREBVG

January 17th, 2011
12:49 pm

The key is Vangorder… He must GO!! There’s not one DB we could sign that could overcome the stupid, soft zone scheme that he runs… This is why we gave up so many yards during the season but still managed to keep teams out of the endzone. We were fortunate that somebody would step up and make a play after being gashed on a big drive, but that luck ran out on Saturday.

opie

January 17th, 2011
12:50 pm

Matt, don’t blame Mularkey for the game plan it is obvious that Mike Smith is Micro-managing the offensive and defensive game plans. In Pittsburgh Mularkey was very aggressive under Bill Cohwer with Kordell Stewart and less talent and they played in the AFC Championship under his watch.

Mike Smith is responsible for the passive offensive and defensive play calling. Read and React Defense which plays not to lose and they will get destroyed next season by Philadelphia and other high scoring teams with this pathetic defense. This is the same idiot who refuses to bring in capable Defensive Ends to help John Abraham, for example Julius Peppers. Jamal Anderson, Davis and Biermann or role Players.

Dimitroff better adjust his philosophy and bring in Namndi from the Raiders-recently released and move Brent Grimes to the slot if he wants the secondary to be competitive. Green Bay and New York Jets have great Secondaries.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

January 17th, 2011
12:50 pm

Waffle House or Bust – Which one? I’m down for some mid-day Waffle House.

Bro

January 17th, 2011
12:54 pm

TRASH TALK never won a game. Only loud mouth fools trash talk either during the game or on the media (news/internet). The old saying still applies: “Actions speak louder than works”. Like Elvis said in the song, “a little less talk and a lot more action”. Roddy White is and will continue to be a big disappointment. The inability to get separation on pass routes is one of two things, lousey routes or lousey ability. When was the last time the team made a big pass play. A pump and go on that 70 yard interception would have been a touchdown. Everyone in the stadium knew what the play was, especially the D-back. Mullarkey is just that a bunch of safe plays for a no talent receiving corps. The exception being Jenkins and Finn. When was the last time Tony G caught a deep pass down the middle-the best play in football. Wake up the offense and get some real plays. Even Pop Warner is more interesting than the Falcons. A lack of imagination(sp) has always resulted in playoff disappointment for the fans of the falcons and the braves. The book is not always right, it is just a gudeline–not the Bible. And these comments are just a waste of time because everyone knows that NFL coaches and reporters know everything and we the fans are just fustrated idiots.

jalex49

January 17th, 2011
12:55 pm

I turned the game off at halftime. I kept looking at the 3 man rush and knew in my heart that Aaron Rodgers was going to embrass the h_ ll out of our team.

I am not a football player but I love to watch the game and what I saw in the first half and recognized immediately the team was doing something defensively that had been seen before by Green Bay and we didn’t make any adjustments. Now, if I recognized that-why didn’t our coaches?

I appreciate the effort by some .. but for the most part, it was awful ! If the coaches want to run a 3 man rush defense then go out on the free-agent market and get those players that have the abililty to do such. The ones we have now can’t and it must be killing Abraham with the way he plays!!

I honestly think the building through the draft is a wonderful approach but it must be complimented with free-agent acquisitions that fit what you as a team are trying to get done. The teams lack of quality free-agents has cost the team when it really counts-the playoff’s.

I hope that next season is better. I can’t say I’m really surprised at what happened but I am dissappointed the team didn’t go farther. As a fan to see your team go 12 and 4 and 13-3 and get bounced in the first round is hard to understand?

Keeping your staff? Good move.. Now go get some players that know how to win!!!!!

the bird song.

January 17th, 2011
12:56 pm

Excellent season, but fell short. The birds ran into a buzz saw name Aaron Rogers. If Rogers doesn’t slip out of a couple near sacks on 3rd down, the game could/would have been much different….Rogers performance was brilliant.

TRUTH Hurts

January 17th, 2011
12:56 pm

Ryan looks scared…he has no arm strength

Larry

January 17th, 2011
12:56 pm

I paid $600 for four playoff tickets but something in my gut said that BVG, as usual, would not have his team ready or make the necessary in-game adjustments to counter the Packers’ passing game. So, four days before the game I sold them for $2,000 on StubHub to some poor soul who had to endure this pathetic effort by our coaches and players and then drive home at midnight or after.

I’m felling smart but my apologies to whomever forked out the 2K!

BigHittas

January 17th, 2011
12:56 pm

…and the reason that the D was in zone coverage was because the coaches knew they were in trouble with 21 on the field. It’s that simple. DOL even said before the game that this might occur with 29 being doubtful. I didn’t like that illegal contact call they Smitty said chenged the game momentum. It did do just that. Since everyone is down on the DB’s…..what about Spoon? What did he do? Thought he was supposed to be the next LT, yada yada.