The Aftermath: Smith on the offense’s woes

 

Packers linemen Erik Walden (from left) Ryan Pickett, and Desmond Bishop celebrate knocking down Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, breaking up a third down pass attempt. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Packers linemen Erik Walden (from left) Ryan Pickett, and Desmond Bishop celebrate knocking down Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, breaking up a third down pass attempt. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – The highlight of today’s press conference was coach Mike Smith’s detailed analysis on how the offense got side-tracked against the Packers. (A must read for all you play-calling is weak folks.)

Basically, there’s nothing wrong with the play calling. The offense shot itself in the foot with untimely penalties.

Well read it all for yourself.

The Falcons weren't able to see the Cheeseheads home sad this time around. (Here, a Green Bay Packers fan isn't happy with the 20-17 Falcons victory at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010.) Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons weren't able to see the Cheeseheads home sad this time around. (Here, a Green Bay Packers fan isn't happy with the 20-17 Falcons victory at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010.) Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Here’s what he had to say:

Opening Statement: Obviously, not the outcome that we wanted last night. We didn’t make the plays that we need to make, in terms of going down the stretch, and we didn’t get the outcome that we wanted.

On the offense’s play after the first two drives: The opening drive, we had a 13 play, 80 yard drive. We moved the ball very efficiently and effectively down the field, scored a touchdown. We forced a turnover and drive number two started on a short field. Had the ball on the 40-yard line, went 10 plays and 60 yards. Those first two drives were drives that we wanted to control the clock. We wanted to try to get this into an eight or nine possession game. That was the intention. The third drive, we were backed up. We started on the 20-yard line. We had a 47-yard completion that was called back by a holding penalty which forced us to punt the ball out of the endzone, give the ball to the opposing team on a short field and they ended up scoring three points. The fourth drive of the opening half was the kneel down. Those were the first four drives. In terms of what we wanted to try to accomplish offensively, we did accomplish it in terms of scoring points and controlling the clock. In the second half, we came out and had a three and out. Our defense got the ball to our offense.

We'll get an official Julio Jones injury update on Wednesday. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones heads to the locker room, leaving the game in the second half after being roughed up by the Packers. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

We'll get an official Julio Jones injury update on Wednesday. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones heads to the locker room, leaving the game in the second half after being roughed up by the Packers. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

 We drove the ball down into field goal range. We had the ball on the 30-yard line and we had an uncharacteristic penalty that knocked us out of field goal range and forced us to punt the ball. So we had a sustainable drive on our first drive, got into field goal range and were not able to attempt the field goal because we had a penalty that knocked us out of field goal range. The sixth drive of the game, on first and 10, we had an illegal formation on a 15-yard completion and we were not able to overcome that penalty and were forced to punt the ball. The seventh drive of the game was a true three and out, probably one of our first true three and outs that we had in the ball game. We came back on the eighth drive, it was a three and out drive but we had a catch that was overruled which gave us a first down and it was overruled and said it was an incomplete pass which would have kept the drive going. Our ninth drive ended on the interception, but prior to the interception, we were in field goal range, we took a sack and the sack knocked us out of field goal range and on a second and 21, we threw an interception.

Atlanta's Lawrence Sidbury tackles Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on third down, stopping a drive and forcing a field goal during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta's Lawrence Sidbury tackles Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on third down, stopping a drive and forcing a field goal during 1st half action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Then on the final drive of the game, we moved the ball down the field and threw an interception. That was the synopsis of our offensive drives in the ball game and as you can see, there were drives that we were moving the football, got into field goal range in two of the drives and knocked ourselves out. We also had an opportunity to continue a drive on a third down completion that was overruled by a challenge. If you keep those drives going, you feel like you’re going to have an opportunity to accomplish some things. It’s a fine line in this League. It’s five to six plays on offense, I say it all the time, five to six plays on defense and unfortunately, after the first two drives, we basically had situations where we self-destructed.

On how you deal with the self-destruction: You have to take a good hard look at yourself. It starts with every man, it starts with me, it starts with the coaching staff and the players. We’re only going to fix this together. We’re not going to fix this individually. It’s not one person, it’s not one thing. We’ve got to collectively make sure that we find ways to win football games instead of finding ways not to win

The Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders proudly show off their pink tops in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

The Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders proudly show off their pink tops in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

 football games. When we haven’t been successful this season, we have found ways to lose football games where in the past we have always found ways to win games.

On the state of the running game: We ran the ball 14 times in the first half, if I’m not mistaken, and we ran the ball 10 times in the second half. It was close to the same balance. We had more snaps, believe it or not, in the first half than we did in the second half or a very similar number of snaps and there at the end, you get the two minute drive at the end and it’s all passes, of course. I think it was going to be balanced. I like the way that we ran the ball. Mike (Turner) ran the ball very effectively. We wanted to run the ball, we wanted to control the clock. That was part of the game plan. That’s part of our DNA and the way that the game unfolded, we weren’t able to sustain some drives for the reasons I just mentioned in going through the drive chart. We’ve got to be able to sustain drives to be able to continue to run the football.

On if there were any plays that he wished they had run rather than passed: There was a second and four and there was communication issues so we had to go to a certain play when we didn’t get the communicator. The communicator went down so our quarterback had no communication to the sideline and that was when we threw the ball on the second and four. It was an incomplete pass. We had to come back on third down and four and we misfired on the third down and four. That was the sequencing that took place on that drive and that was the drive that started with the illegal formation.

On if there are typically issues with the communicators: It’s not often, but it does happen. You’re dealing with technology and you guys are sitting here with laptops sitting in front of you and you understand how that happens. Sometimes it locks up or you lose a connection to the net.

On the play of the defense against Green Bay: That’s a team that was scoring 37 points per game. We held them 12 points under their average. There were some very good plays that were made by our defense. There were a handful of plays, just like on the offensive side of the football, we would like to have back. There was an explosive touchdown pass of 70 yards that was a backbreaker; a one-play drive. We also had them complete a slant that went for 29 yards and a touchdown and those were the two touchdowns that they scored. I thought the good takeaways were that we were able to put pressure on the quarterback and we were also very good in the redzone. Our redzone defense, we bounced back from a poor performance the week

Falcons coach Mike Smith addressing the media after the Green Bay game. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons coach Mike Smith addressing the media after the Green Bay game. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/DLedbetter@ajc.com)

before in the redzone and played very solid redzone defense this week. Believe me, they are a very good offensive team and when they get into the redzone, holding them to field goals is a win. That is a very efficient offensive football team.

On how the injuries affected the game: That was a game of attrition, there’s no doubt about it. That was a physical football game and those things are going to happen. You can’t make excuses for them. We’ve always said it, one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. Those guys had an opportunity to come in and play and they did it without a whole lot of practice time and I thought for the most part, they came in and did a pretty good job especially on the defensive side. The two guys, Kelvin (Hayden) and James Sanders, that had to come in. John Abraham was a scratch for the ball game and it was good to see Lawrence Sidbury record a sack. I thought Kroy Biermann did a nice job as well. Those guys got some significant playing time which will only benefit us as we move through the rest of the season and it’s a long way to go. We still have 11 games.

On if this is a game that is frustrating due to a lack of execution of solid game planning: There’s a sense of frustration when you don’t win, always. But I think the big thing for us is that we have to understand why we didn’t have the success that we wanted to have and we’ve got to identify that and work on those issues. I think it’s real apparent. We’ve got to be able to sustain drives, offensively. After the first two drives, we weren’t able to sustain them and a lot of it was some uncharacteristic play by our offense. The thing about it is, what makes it look so bad is how good it looked the first two drives. That will magnify it. Those first two drives were very good drives and it makes the rest of it look and feel really bad.”

On John Abraham’s injury: John had stiffness in his hip and we were limiting his reps. As we got closer to the game, we wanted to work him out and we made a decision with the stiffness in his hip that it was in our best interest to hold him out of the ball game. We certainly hope that with the four or five days that he will have really had non-activity that he’ll be ready to go this week.

On the injury report: We have got a long list of guys that are banged up. I’ll have a whole lot more for you guys on Wednesday. I hope you understand. I mentioned John. We’re hoping that he’ll be back but we did get some guys that got nicked up in the ball game. Todd McClure, we’re hoping that we’ll get Todd back out there sometime this week and I guess that will be the nugget for the day.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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128 comments Add your comment

Professor du Fromage

October 10th, 2011
5:53 pm

Dear Coach Mike Smith,

You want to help this team win?

Take this amnesia ray and wipe your memory, then wipe your GM’s, and finally Matt Ryan’s.

I know it looks like a revolver but you just have to trust the Professor.

CGD..

October 10th, 2011
5:55 pm

Cheerleaders: 1 Fal-cons:0

CGD..

October 10th, 2011
5:56 pm

Coach Clean Shot: Greyhound is ready for ya buster!

Take Dimitroof and Mckay with ya too

CGD..

October 10th, 2011
5:57 pm

Dimitroff^^^^^^

Hey L, swat yourself…..

NS from Kennesaw

October 10th, 2011
6:09 pm

Enter your comments here

BirdFanscout

October 10th, 2011
6:12 pm

Hey Coach Smith,

How about addressing how everyone else is playing on turf and Baker seems as though his feet is in the mud. He could not react when Ryan called 55 as the MLB. All Baker did was call “Look out” when he ran by him. And that was not the only play that he let get by him when he seemed confused.

This team has no identity. Not just the running identity but the being tuff identity. Where they would come out and smack their opponents in the mouth. It is not because of the loss of Dahl, the whole team is playing in sperts. The Ol is not nasty, Turner doesn’t hit the hole as aggressively, Weems doesn’t return any punts anymore and the list goes on.

What happened?

brainfreeze

October 10th, 2011
6:26 pm

if the facons win 8 games this year consider it a bang year

NS from Kennesaw

October 10th, 2011
6:26 pm

BirdFanScout,

Agreed with you. Something is going on in the locker room, the same players retained from last year did not play like they did the last season.

DOL, can you help dig it up??

Bird E

October 10th, 2011
6:27 pm

Smitty can say what he wants and spin the “what if” game however he wants.

*Robinson spends too much time looking into the backfield instead of playing his receiver
*Too many times the receiver is catching the ball with no one within 10 yards of him
*Matty Boy is overthrowing his receivers
*Turner is running too upright and not getting his pads down
*Three yards and a cloud of dust just isn’t working

Overall, I think the defense has in many cases played better this year – unfortunately it’s spending way to much time on the field.

I would like to get rid of Mularkey and get someone who wants to WIN a game instead of sitting on the ball and controlling the clock – that’s what we have a defense for!

musicgeekmusic

October 10th, 2011
6:38 pm

What worries me is that this team is starting to remind me of the 1980 Falcons team that lost a 24-10 lead against Dallas with 7 minutes to go in the Divisional Championship and then went on a 10-year streak without a winning season. I think the Green Bay loss in last year’s playoffs has affected the entire Falcons organization from a mental standpoint. Instead of playing to win, they’re playing not to lose.

Unca' Bob

October 10th, 2011
6:43 pm

D-Led,

This is the most information I have ever read coming from Coach Smith. I felt he laid it out there for all to see, and the progressions he put forth were telling. Great stuff my friend, great stuff. I knew there was a reason I’m into bow ties!

Great Falconi

October 10th, 2011
6:46 pm

I’m not a fan of how Smitty explained the offensive possessions away. After all, doesn’t he believe that we are able to overcome adversity in a football game? Why is it that the Packers could find themselves in third-and-long and convert them so well when it mattered the most? They had adversity (down 14-0 on the road and struggling in the red zone) and they overcame it. The Falcons thrived on overcoming adversity in 2010. That’s the only reason they won 13 games. Otherwise, they would have been 10-6…maybe.

The Pack outcoached and outplayed the Falcons last night, producing a very workmanlike 2010 Atlanta Falcons-style performance to get the W. The Falcons didn’t make many big plays last night. They certainly didn’t make many small ones, either.

rm

October 10th, 2011
7:00 pm

DOL,can you ask him why that sorry-a$$ punter is still on the team? I’m pretty sure that he’s last in the league. He’s turrible!

rm

October 10th, 2011
7:02 pm

And have him take Baker and his T-Rex arms with him!

ragweed

October 10th, 2011
7:03 pm

White needs to sit downhabout half the offencive plays. It looks to me like he is looking around like he hears foot stps, and is reminding me of Ken Burroughs of the former Houston Oilers who would only catch a ball it he were wide opne and not foot steps could be heard..

Greg Moundine

October 10th, 2011
7:05 pm

I am still a fan. I traveled 5.5 hours to attend the Falcons game. I am a season ticket holder. I served in the military 22 years, but no one, I say no one comes to your house and beat you twice.

Listen to me media, Atlanta Falcons coaches, staff and Falcons fans the only way we can feel better is by 1. making the playoffs and 2. by beating GB to advance further in the playoff or to make it further than GB in the playoff.

If you remember, in this league it takes a lot a skills and a little luck to make it to the playoffs or Super Bowl. Remember GB would not have made the playoffs if it was not for Desean Jackson running that punt return back to beat the NY Giants.

Listen I am hurt from this lost and will have to deal with a lot of GB fans tomorrow at work. This one will be a hard one to swollow, but we have to now look to the Carolina Panthers game. The Falcons, Panthers, Bucs, Eagles, Cowboys and Giants all do not have good records at this point. The Wild Card is going to be wide open. We have to forget the GB game and move on. I know it’s easier said than done, but we must prepare for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers! Go Falcons. Keep your heads up!

Robertatl

October 10th, 2011
7:05 pm

People when Julio got hurt the OC was pretty much stuck in what they could call. Green Bay bought the strong safety down in the box and rolled up the free safety on Gonzalez. The special teams player, Weems. is quick but not fast. Roddy has been playing with an injury so he can’t go down field right now. I admire his guts in trying to play through an injury. If Roddy can’t practice this week, they better give the receiver Harry Douglas many reps because based on Julio’s hamstring he won’t be playing this weekend.

Robertatl

October 10th, 2011
7:10 pm

We better prepare for Newton because if he starts running around and our safeties start to run up field he can easily throw it 50 plus on the run.

BOB

October 10th, 2011
7:16 pm

Ok. Here is the short answer to the test: The Falcons have no superstars and you need at leat 1 to win in the NFL.

First: QB. # 2 is a game manager who has been cast by the local media as a star because of some recent history that need not be revisited at this time.
Second. RB. # 33 is an aging one dimensional back who is only effective when the Falcons want to milk the clock; presumably when they are ahead with time running out in the 4th quarter.
Third: WR. #84 has peaked. He carried the WR corps for 3 years after being less than spectacular for the first 3 years of his career. Might , I repeat,might garner a 1st round pick in 2012.
Fourth: TE. # 88 is a first ballot HOF player but like a certain local baseball icon, did his best work 5 years ago.
Fifth: DE. # 55 is done.A great career but noone outruns Father Time.
Sixth: Db. # 23 is a press coverage guy in a soft zone system utilized because of the size of the Falcons starting DB’s. Might garner a 3rd round pick in 2012 but if salary comes off of the books its a win-win.
Last; MLB: #50 has been a very good player but his knees have robbed him of his primary asset,speed. The future of MLB in the NFL is the D’onta Hightower mode. 6′4, 260 lbs and fast.

SCFalcon

October 10th, 2011
7:18 pm

The Falcons never have a good year, the year of a work stoppage. I was concerned that this would happen again this year and it looks like it will. I don’t see any leaders on the field on offense or defense stepping up to rally the troops during the game. Others have said it, they are not playing with fire or determination.

College football is much more exciting than this stuff.

Lord Stanley

October 10th, 2011
7:19 pm

Run the bloody Ball!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CGD..

October 10th, 2011
7:22 pm

Arron is 5x>Melt…So no SB’s in these parts….Enough already with that..Aint happening unless you swap Matt(Golden Arm) Stafford former UGA great for Matty(Inaccurate from 15yds. and beyond) Ryan…lol

timothy

October 10th, 2011
7:24 pm

atlanta has frustrated me this season. Good offensive players, but whats the problem? turner scared to hit the hole hard, cause he worried about fumbling. offensive line is too soft. grimes is the only corner we have, and also weak safeties. atlanta needs a whole new secendary, but leave grimes. Also why get away from therun like u that? it worked for u on your first two drives. bad play calling!

Robertatl

October 10th, 2011
7:26 pm

CGD wasn’t Matt Ryan’s first year with Musgrave as his QB coach. I think he trusted Musgrave more than his current QB coach.

Greg Moundine

October 10th, 2011
7:26 pm

I do not know how many times I have to say it, go get T.O. Yes Julio is good but he’s not a Veteran and does not have the experience as a T.O. or a Randy Moss.

Robertatl

October 10th, 2011
7:31 pm

Timothy at that time who was playing Julio, who could occupy the free safety and the stong saftety couldn’t come down in the box.

timothy

October 10th, 2011
7:33 pm

t.o. would be a good addition to the falcons…i been saying it for years. put him in the slot…. i dont know why they scared to pick him up?

Yeah Right

October 10th, 2011
7:38 pm

Coach is stubbornly sticking to his guns. I hope its worth it.

timothy

October 10th, 2011
7:38 pm

i might not watch no more falcon games until they make some changes

timothy

October 10th, 2011
7:44 pm

atlanta hit the free market…make a trade or something….two awesome wide outs in free agency try one especially to. he has age but he always play hard and physical, also lives in atlanta

OldTimer

October 10th, 2011
8:11 pm

Deer in a headlight = Matt Ryan on the sideline.

PackerFan

October 10th, 2011
8:13 pm

Bottom Line-Atlanta doesn’t have enough playmakers…Packers simply have more talent…and that includes coaching…NO Dback can cover those passes that Rodgers throws, NOBODY…but good game, just not good enough :)

Sunshine Falcon

October 10th, 2011
8:16 pm

The Falcons must upgrade the O Line and DB’s beside Grimes, before they will be a serious Super Bowl contender.

terrell

October 10th, 2011
8:32 pm

Sunshine Falcon, it’s hard to upgrade your o-line, and your db’s, when you gave away your draft picks.

terrell

October 10th, 2011
8:34 pm

Cant believe I’m worried about the Carolina game. Had that one penciled in as a win. Not anymore. It’s a toss up.

bird

October 10th, 2011
9:02 pm

What kneel down is coach Smitty referring to?

honest_abe

October 10th, 2011
9:14 pm

this mnf game is the ugliest game i have ever seen. wow. i’ve seen 10 straight minutes of penalties.

valyboy32

October 10th, 2011
9:22 pm

Just seemed like the offensive cord.. had them guessing an then we statrted running our no huddle and through everything out of wack with the play calling.

Michael M.

October 10th, 2011
9:27 pm

uh-oh read a news caption says, Cam returns home to Atlanta…………………..Dirty birds getting ready for another butt kickin next Sunday starting at 1 P.M. on the button ! Hurry Falcons ,get on that Greyhound and head outta town !

We are using the Playmakers correctly...

October 10th, 2011
9:30 pm

Mularkey isn’t using his playmaking WR’s correctly. He’s sending them on routes that don’t cater to YAC. He has them running curl routes and in routes where the catch the ball and then have to turn and build momentum back up. The big YAC teams are those like the Packers, Saints, and Pats that do quick slants, post routes, quick screens, etc. This allows the WR to be in motion (running away from the defenders) and to catch it in stride so they can make that Yardage After the Catch!

That is totally on the OC! ! Instead he’s using them as possession WR’s. Just an awful waste of talent.

Michael M.

October 10th, 2011
9:31 pm

Oh my goodness….wanna put Terrell Owens on the Team now,,,,,,,,yah better hurry n get on the Bus !
T O went to Hospital last week drug related

Mikefalcon63

October 10th, 2011
9:44 pm

Just like Bobo is going to get Richt fired, b/c Richt is too loyal…. Mularkey is going get Smitty fired b/c Smitty won’t throw him under the bus. You call him a true professional. Whatever… We are not going to the playoffs this year or next year if Mularkey is still around. That means Mr. Blank will thank Smitty for his 3 winning seasons and tell him to take a hike.

Is it so wrong to want a consistent winning team in Atlanta? Why must we be cursed?

Michael M.

October 10th, 2011
9:48 pm

Boy if its not a curse I sure would like to know what else it could be called .

Michael M.

October 10th, 2011
10:01 pm

CDG quit warchin that Lions ballgame and get the greyhound ready before the Panthers get in town…ha ! Im outta here !

the hawkeye

October 10th, 2011
10:04 pm

I love my Birds, but lately,”lately hell”, all too often the general managers,”Who have never played a second of football”, Sell the owner on the,”I know best theory,” Point is the Owners who are mostly out for $$$$ need too find someone who knows what to f..k there talking about.How can you justify getting rid of you draft picks for years to come for 1 player.You build your team around the talents you have onhand at present. And last year we had talent. But we couldnt keep them because of mostly one player.number 11.

Kane337

October 10th, 2011
10:09 pm

So Coach Smith is saying we can’t overcome a few penalties on offense to sustain drives. If there is a penalty on offense then we have to dink and dunk and punt.

The Packers had a 2 and 18 on their last drive and converted for a first down. They ended up driving down for a FG that sealed the game.

Kane337

October 10th, 2011
10:11 pm

I agree. We are not using the Playmakers correctly.

B'Red

October 10th, 2011
10:19 pm

I think we have enough talent on this team to make the playoff. The coaching staff need to step up their game planning. The offense need to stay agressive the whole game, and not try to sit on a lead when they get one by playing conservitive.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 10th, 2011
10:19 pm

Unca’ Bob — Thanks. Coach was very clear about the untimely penalties bogging down the offense. (Not the playcalling as the novices are saying.)

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 10th, 2011
10:21 pm

rm — It’s prettty clear they are planning to ‘live’ with the punter because they like his upside. They are going to allow him the opportunity to improve.