Falcons coach Mike Smith was upbeat after the Falcons were defeated 21-7 by the Baltimore Raven on Thursday at the Georgia Dome.
Here’s what he had to say after the game:
OPENING STATEMENT: Tonight, we obviously rested several of our No. 1 players as we get ready to go for the regular season. Our No. 1 goal is to be as healthy as possible for that first game. That’s one of the things we accomplished tonight. We also wanted to get one last look at several players. There are a lot of guys fighting for roster spots. When I say a lot, there is a handful. We obviously saw some guys step up. We saw some guys that didn’t necessarily take care of business. We’ve got a bunch of decisions to make. Over the next 48 hours that’s what we’ll be doing. We will be spending our time to put our 53 guys together, to put our roster together to open this 2011 season.
ON ANTONE SMITH: Outstanding performance by Antone tonight. I think he was over 100 yards rushing and had a wonderful screen pass reception as well. He came out and competed and that’s what it’s all about.
ON JOHN PARKER WILSON: Everybody is out there as an individual performing, but it is a group effort. It’s a team effort. Until we get together and really watch the tape. . . sometimes what you see and what you think you see, are not really the same thing. You have to get in there and watch the tape. Obviously, it was not the type of performance that we wanted to have.
ON KELVIN HAYDEN AND JAMES SANDERS: Both of those guys, we’ve added in the last couple of days. Again, we are always trying to better our roster. That is our goal; to have the best 53 guys that we can. We think that both of these guys are going to strengthen our roster and make us a better football team. We are looking forward to starting to work them tomorrow. We were actually working with them tonight. We already have started. They were on the sidelines getting the calls. We were trying to give them as much information that we could about our defense so that we could indoctrinate these guys into our system as quickly as possible.
ON DE RAY EDWARDS: I saw those two plays. I thought there was some intensity and aggressiveness there early on. We just played that group of guys for two series and then got them out. I liked the intensity and the way we played. I think there were five straight series that either ended with a three-and-out or an interception. There were some positives things in the game. There always is. We didn’t like the outcome. . . But there were some things we needed to see as a coaching staff. I thought some things came to light. Discussions will be very intense tomorrow.
ON GARRETT REYNOLDS WINNING THE RG GUARD JOB: I don’t know if we can conclude that. I think that he definitely has the (leg) up in terms of the amount of snaps that he’s had. We tried to get Mike Johnson, because he missed the first ball game, an opportunity to play more snaps so that we could have an evaluation. As I said earlier in the week, game snaps are weighted a lot heavier than practice snaps. We wanted to see how these guys are going to respond in games.
ON AKEEM DENT: We wanted to get Akeem some snaps. That was an important thing for him to get out in front of the huddle. Akeem played our (middle) linebacker as well. We had four different guys play (middle) linebacker in the game tonight.
ON THE ASSESSMENT OF THE DEFENSE: We’re growing. That would be the way that I would describe our defensive football team. We are growing. I like the level of intensity that they play with. We don’t always play as smart as we need to. That’s something that we have to work on, but the intensity level is there and they have a better feel for our scheme in year four than they did in year three and year two. Again, it’s always a work in progress. We are going to do everything we can to better our team.
ON THE WINLESS PRESEASON: We have a saying that if they play, then it’s worth winning. We talk to our guys all the time about that. We want to go out and win ball games. That’s why you play them. But at the same time in the preseason, there are certain things at certain points in the preason that you have to look at and you want to get accomplished. That’s sometimes overrides some of the other decisions that you would normally make in a ball game. To say am I disappointed, yeah I’m disappointed. To say that I’m concerned. No, I’m not concerned. This football team is a very mature football team. We had a plan in place in terms of things that we had to get accomplished and I think we’ve been able to do that through the preseason.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog