Q&A: Falcons’ coach Mike Smith elated with win

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards returns a Philadelphia Eagles fumble by quarterback Michael Vick as Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) pursues. Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards returns a Philadelphia Eagles fumble by quarterback Michael Vick as Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) pursues. Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Falcons coach Mike Smith was elated with the 35-31 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night at the Georgia Dome.

In an NFL rarity, he admitted that the coaching staff mis-calculated the final two minutes and went into the victory formation too early.

OPENING STATEMENT: I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way our guys played tonight. There was a lot of tough sledding in the football game. We obviously didn’t play our best game, but we played enough to get it done. On offense, we picked up the defense when we had to, and on defense we picked up the offense when we had to. I thought it was a very solid special teams effort as well. We’re going to move on as quickly as possible because winning in this League is not easy. It’s something that you have to go out each and every week and prepare. I thought I guys prepared this week and were in focus.

ON THE MINDSET OF THE TEAM ENTERING THE FOURTH QUARTER DOWN 10:  We got into our no-huddle offense. . . We wanted to do it earlier in the football game; we just couldn’t because of field position. Behind in the field position battle going into the third quarter was something we talked about doing at halftime and making that adjustment. We didn’t really get a chance to get into it until the fourth quarter.

ON MICHAEL TURNER’S 61 YARD RUN:  We hit a trap. Michael Turner’s trap was a big play in the fourth quarter of the ball game. We knew that it was going to be tough because they are a very good football team. I can’t tell you how important it is to get those explosive plays and change the field position. That was one of the bigger plays.

ON THE PLAY OF TONY GONZALEZ: That’s why he’s been to all of those Pro Bowls and he’s obviously going to be a Hall-of-Famer. I can’t say anything but ‘wow’ about those catches. That will be one that you’ll be seeing for a long time; the one-handed catch down in the end zone towards our tunnel. And then he had the other catch down in the redzone as well. Tony was on fire. He and Matt (Ryan) were in sync. When you have that type of sync and synergy, you’re going to make some plays.

ON THE LAST DRIVE: It was very tough sledding all day. That is one of the top defensive lines in the League and they do a great job of rotating. We knew it was going to be tough sledding. We hit them early with some things on the first drive. We didn’t give it up. We wanted to make sure we had a pretty good balance in terms of pass-to-run and run-to-pass.

ON THE CHANGES ON DEFENSE: We as a coaching staff are always going to evaluate. It’s our job to always put the best guys that we feel give us the best opportunity to win a football game. It was our decision after the competition this week that we were going to start (James) Sanders at the safety position. And Kelvin Hayden at the nickel position. These are guys that we added in late, right before the season started. They have been on a crash course and I believe our coaching staff has done a great job of getting these guys prepared. They are great professionals that have won a lot of football games and are a good addition to our football team.

ON CONTAINING MICHAEL VICK: It’s hard to contain a quarterback like Mike (Vick). He did a good job. We wanted to get pressure on him. We wanted to hit him. We wanted to sack him. I thought that we executed the game plan. We mixed it up in terms of what we were trying to get accomplished.

ON THE VICTORY FORMATION: That was probably a coaching error. We need to run the ball. Not probably, it was a coaching error. In terms of the mindset that was not the proper way to do it, but we were able to get through it. We don’t play perfect games, we don’t coach perfect games.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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83 comments Add your comment

The Falcon Jedi

September 19th, 2011
2:37 am

Just A Fan

September 19th, 2011
2:54 am

This year’s acquisitions each made key plays to get this win: Edwards fumble recovery, Hayden interception, Jones with the great catch to extend the drive, and some tough runs from Jacquizz.

Great Falconi

September 19th, 2011
3:07 am

Glad to see Mike Smith take the blame for the victory formation snafu at the end. You’ve got to make sure you run that clock all the way down to zero. The fact that Bosher kicked the ball to Jackson just made it worse. Nothing went wrong, but it certainly could have.

Great win.

bruce raglin from hi

September 19th, 2011
3:37 am

much better effort on both sides of the ball ol still needs to improve should try sending receivers accross the field Ryan looked better no sin in losing in chigago go falcons

CaliDirtyBird

September 19th, 2011
4:34 am

I, also, like the fact that Mike Smith admitted his mistake on clock management at the end. Sam Baker got his lunch money taken all night. The secondary although still giving up yards seemed to play better. I think we can say after two games the D-line is not a problem anymore. If we can just get our O-line playing better. We’ll be in great shape.

Falcon James

September 19th, 2011
5:01 am

Let me just say that it was nice to see the falcon finally win a game this game. it been a tough sled all year. Hayden and Sanders look good in they first game as starters. Gots to take my hat off to Gonzalez. He old, but he can still play.Dunta gave a cheap shot, so we probably not see him for a few games and he going to be $50,000.00 poorer after Goodell get done with him. Dunta still can’t cover a corpse with a sheet though.

Decatur Falcon

September 19th, 2011
6:24 am

Coach Smith- Please let Matt Ryan start calling the entire game. Sam Baker step it up- TG- Outstanding game – I think you can play 3 more years !

Big Daddy

September 19th, 2011
6:29 am

Great win for the Falcons. Way to hang in there. Burner really came through when we needed him. Ryan hung in the pocket and delivered to the open receivers. The defense was able to bend but not break and make the play when it counted. I was afraid we were in for it when the punter kicked the ball right to Jackson at the end. Sam Baker will have nightmares about this game and even when he had help, it wasn’t enough. The punter seemed to feel the pressure on that shanked punt. In the end, what really counted was the W. Sanders and Hayden are a good additions to the D. Go Falcons!!!!

DBH

September 19th, 2011
6:50 am

Sam Baker needs to be cut. He is horrible. Point blank. Dude was getting manhandled last night!

Maurice

September 19th, 2011
7:26 am

Matt calls better plays than the OC. Give him the job.

Samuel

September 19th, 2011
7:50 am

I don’t think we upgraded with that kicker-punter Bosher, I’m not Impressed. Coach Smith needs to come to the realization that Mike mularky is not going to take us to the promise land. He is not creative enough for that talent on the offensive side of the ball. Finally Decoud got benched, he simply was a liability in that secondary. The offensive line is horrible, mainly Sam Baker and G. Reynolds I hope Tod Mclure gets well soon. Matt Ryan needs to work on his arm strength and his game over all. He makes too many mistakes. He’s not there yet in terms of being one of the elite QB’s in the league. I like what i saw in the defense, I think their starting to come around. Vangorder did a nice job of keeping these guys focused.

Fresh-- need a cold one

September 19th, 2011
7:58 am

We get the win despite the OC’s playincalling. Thanks for the no-huddle and Philly’s friendly fire. Dunta is getting the rep as a dirty player and i think a fine is coming. I still say fire the OC and DC. But a win is a win!

2 > 7

September 19th, 2011
9:15 am

I think we as fans all agree that we don’t need an OC anymore. Matt does a great job calling his own plays. I bet if we don’t go no huddle in the 4th, we lose.

R Brown

September 19th, 2011
9:23 am

Coaching error. For sure the victory formation was bungled. They should have run at least one play if not two instead of the knee. That last Philly pass should have been caught and who knows what happens. As for Dunta. Complaining about safety help after getting beat DURING the play. Wow. Really. The two new DB’s played well.

Matt Ryan B+ (Still couldn’t get away from his grandmother if his life depended on it and still gets happy feet. Nice bomb attempt though.)
OL C+ Not terrible, Ryan still holds the ball too long
OL (Baker) F Sam Baker should have his doctor check for blood in the stool
DL B Better than last week, if this D showed up in Chicago, we’d be 2-0
DB B- Better than last week, Grimes a stud, Dunta’s a dud
LB B- They CAN tackle, who would have thought it
Kicker F Bosher! Really Smith/Dimitroff? No touchbacks and a shank out of your own endzone
RB B+ Turner did his thing however, the Burner part of his nick name should be retired. Twice this year, he’s had breakaways which he should have run in but got caught
Kick Return B- Weems please fair catch the darn ball and stop waving your arms like you’re calling a baserunner safe at homeplate. You’re the reason we even got to Shanksville
Coaching B Victory formation could have been disastrous. Did I mention Bosher?)

Team A Only two grades possible here. A for a WIN or F for a LOSS. There’s no moral victorys in football. We got the win and apparently no major injuries to boot).

Mr. Mustard

September 19th, 2011
9:35 am

They brought in Julio Jones to stretch the field and give us some big plays. Tonight that happened and it sparked the team. Matt had some zip on the ball, and the defense created several turnovers.

Turner seems to need a hole the size of a dump truck before he can get yardage. More Jacquizz, who I thought looked good.

Great win, must have and against a tough, tough team.

Nice.

ctfalconsfan

September 19th, 2011
9:41 am

DOL Can you check and see if Sam Baker will take his check and give it back to Mr. Blank or at least donate it to charity as he looked completely lost/over matched last night.

I’m very concerned about our OL, they all looked weak!

ctfalconsfan

September 19th, 2011
9:44 am

ok lete’s move on to take care of business in TB!

CuseFalcon

September 19th, 2011
9:45 am

Dunta Robinson getting torched on that last drive for 40 yards is unacceptable. I am getting tired of this guy. Bottom line…he just is not that good. They chose to pick on him last night because he cant tackle and he is slow….he makes no plays at all…….just saying people….we need better.

OC/DC Dinosaurs

September 19th, 2011
9:46 am

Yes despite Mike Mularkey, Matt Ryan came through. Our offense will revert back to the bad play calling, and there will be another crisis with the offense. It will be a continuing problem as long as Mularkey is the OC. I would like to point out any decent running back would have gained yards through the holes that Michael Turner went through. In fact, a faster, shifter running back would probably have scored. Let’s face it, if there is a wide hole in the line, Michael Turner is successful. If there is not hole in the line, he is usually stopped for less than 2-3 yards.

CuseFalcon

September 19th, 2011
9:47 am

BOSHER SUCKS

Mr lucky

September 19th, 2011
9:55 am

It was a mixed bag, some ugly and some looked good but why go away from running the ball and then trying to force the ball to Julio? If we run like we used to the long balls will open up. But in the end a win is a win :-)

Blank Stare

September 19th, 2011
9:56 am

The good: Matt Ryan got knocked in the mouth and got got back up. Finally OC calls plays for Julio down the field. Tony G. played one of his best games. Desean Jackson only had 2 receptions thanks to Grimes. The Bad: Duante Robinson can’t cover, Period.

jerseyfalcon

September 19th, 2011
10:45 am

can someone PLEASE tell me why the falcons drafted Bosher?? He was brought in to punt and kick off..after two weeks of watching the season he’s the only kick off man who places the ball on the two…not two yards back, but the two..and they’re line drives! I had a feeling he was going to shank that end zone punt too…..I can’t even describe the horror of Sam Baker. H’e another guy that every person on draft day were searching for answers on why they drafted him. Cut bosher!

Rico Niles

September 19th, 2011
10:48 am

Not resigning Mike Koeken was Big. We need to sign a Veteran Punter and O-Line RG!

Rico Niles

September 19th, 2011
10:50 am

My Bad! I Meant “Mike Koenen”

Rico Niles

September 19th, 2011
10:54 am

Trade “Dumbta” Robbin-us-on-D for anybody…. This dude cannot play corner after signing that big contract. What in the world is that type of coverage and illegal hit?

Curly

September 19th, 2011
11:14 am

TONY GONZALEZ played one of his best games. Man caught just about everything. What a pro performance. Falcons have a lot of offensive weapons……………..Start using them all!!

Wassup

September 19th, 2011
11:22 am

Unfortunately (because of the money spent on him), I don’t think a Dunta suspension will actually be noticed on the field.

Th

September 19th, 2011
11:36 am

Who did Dunta Robinson hit on that play to draw the 15 yard penalty? Who dropped an easy 1st down pass over the middle to kill the Eagles come back chances? Just sayin’.

Chucktown38

September 19th, 2011
11:50 am

Baker has too go Baker has to go Baker has to go!!!!! Maybe Blank can have VanGorder give him a ride on his way out as well.

Chucktown38

September 19th, 2011
11:55 am

Turner runs like someone who has been in the NFL for 9 or 10 years. Hold on he has? Sorry I forgot my point.

SirReal

September 19th, 2011
11:55 am

We did well overall. A win’s a win against a team that has owned ATL the past few years. We got a few lucky rolls and played with heart vs last week. My main concern is that O-line. Why is Baker still starting> He seems to get owned by anyone he faces. Did you see how he was bullrushed ALLLLLL night?! LT is supposed to be the most important in pass protection. Its his 4th year so there is no excuse. He just isnt that good. As far as D, LBs did well. It was good to see and hear more of Peria Jerry’s name being called. Maybe he’s finally stepping up while Babs is out. Hate that Peters is hurt again though. Its a long season. I see a 10-6 team right now vs the 9-7 team I saw last week. Hopefully they can change that even further as the season wears on. Tampa will be tough but if the Lions can do it, I know we can. 2-1 headed to Seattle would be grand.

Dennis

September 19th, 2011
12:06 pm

A good finish to an ugly start.

For a while there, I thought we were back in the early days when the refs would invent penalties against the Falcons while ignoring blatant offenses against them.

And once again, I watched with the sound muted for the most part. I was amazed at how early on, the Eagle leading with the helmet to Ryan was ho-hummed and immediately forgotten and Robinson’s hit was fodder for the rest of the game.

Casey

September 19th, 2011
12:41 pm

Mike Smith should buy Stephon Nicholas a steak dinner for that tackle he made on Jackson after the coaching blunder, AND then punting to the most dangerous guy on the field.

tyrone shustrings

September 19th, 2011
12:45 pm

The Eagles got a few breaks too. The Falcons played with determination andto down grade that is laughable.

atlpaddy

September 19th, 2011
12:58 pm

Baker, Bosher, and Mularky – oh cr@p!!!

Falcons Jim

September 19th, 2011
1:18 pm

Chris Collingsworth can just ruin a good game.

IceFan

September 19th, 2011
1:23 pm

I just want to second Dennis’ point about the early helmet-to-helmet from Cullin Jenkins on Matt Ryan. It’s bad enough the refs missed that call, but worse that the announcers barely mentioned it. Come on!!!!!

Casey

September 19th, 2011
1:34 pm

Falcons Jim, I couldn’t agree more! I just about have to turn the sound off!! I don’t know which is more annoying him – or Joe Morgan back when he did Sunday Night Baseball… analyzing every freakin’ play!

mark

September 19th, 2011
1:41 pm

im with falcons jim man that guy collinsworths was a eagles fan all night long praising the eagles this the eagles that i hate it and for sure baker an bosher had to go bosher had an 18 or 19 yrds punts what is that!!! even my sister can kick far than him, but overall good game

CT Techie

September 19th, 2011
1:45 pm

I do appreciate that Mike Smith can step up and admit that there was a mistake by the coaching staff about the clock management at the end of the game. That shows a lot of character, and I respect someone who practices what is being preached in the Falcon’s lockerroom (about them only wanting high-character men). Even though the Falcons looked a little less competent initially for it, my respect for Mike Smith is now even greater.
Unfortunately, Dunta Robinson’s hit on the Eagle’s receiver left me a little cold. It appeared to my wife and I that his hit was quite intentional in both using the helmet and trying to injure somebody, and that bothered both of us. I prefer being associated with teams that don’t feature cheap-shot artists, which I certainly felt that hit was. Clean it up!

Chuck

September 19th, 2011
1:45 pm

And watch the game again – the Philly corner mirrored EXACTLY what Robinson did when he hit Julio Jones – the only difference was no flag, and no Collinsworth diatribe about playing the right way.

Justin

September 19th, 2011
1:51 pm

Why in the world aren’t we running some screen passes to slow down defensive lines? That makes two games in a row that teams are getting to our QB with only four guys rushing.

Casey

September 19th, 2011
1:59 pm

CT Techie, put a few rocks in your pocket or tell the wifie to give you your pants back. It’s football man! The only difference is nowadays the rules have changed. And cameras, along with commentators (biased) can over-analyze one particular play while overlooking another!

old man

September 19th, 2011
2:41 pm

Justin, the reason we don’t run screens is that Turner is not known for catching the ball (although he had a good one last night) and when we put in Snelling or Rogers, they know to look for it.

old man

September 19th, 2011
2:43 pm

Collinsworth was pretty funny. One second he was talking about how “This is the kind of game Ryan might never recover from,” and then 10 minutes later he is saying, “Wow, this is a signature victory for Matt Ryan!” But I like the sound of his voice almost as much as he does.

Ain't Lyin'

September 19th, 2011
3:10 pm

I wanted to reach through the TV and choke Collingsworth for all the dumbass commentary he was spewing. NBC needs to do a self-audit on their broadcast for quality purposes!! I was watching with a group of people, otherwise I’d have turned the volume down and listened to radio broadcast. What a PUNk!!

Big Play Ray

September 19th, 2011
3:13 pm

I been out of the league for years and can still cover better than Dunta Rob-in-our-ass!!

FalconsFan284

September 19th, 2011
3:14 pm

I believe our struggles on defense can be placed at the feet of Brian Van Gorder. The man seems to think that giving teams a 15 yard cushion on 3 and 10 will get the job done. To his point, it does. For the opposing offense. Dunta is more of a man corner and can play bump and run coverage. So, why don’t we use him that way?
Am I the only one that is going to ask where Brent Grimes has been through the first two games? He’s broken up two passes but has been getting beat like a government mule!
Hayden and Sanders each had good and bad moments. I would love to see us play more than zone coverage on every long play while they are in the game. It’s frustrating to see Atlanta give up huge plays underneath when there is so much talent in the secondary.
Brian Van Gorder needs to go back to some little school and coach players with no talent!
Still, it’s better to be a Falcon fan today than an Eagles fan.

Big Play Ray

September 19th, 2011
3:24 pm

@ FalconsFan

I second that! It’s great to be a Falcon Fan. They played like they were in a 15-round Heavyweight fight!! Especially proud of the way Ryan hung in there; can’t say enough about that.