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.
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 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.
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
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
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