Q&A: Mike Smith believes Falcons are ‘back on track’

Falcons head coach Mike Smith and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton greet each other at mid-field during pregame warmups. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons head coach Mike Smith and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton greet each other at mid-field during pregame warmups. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons coach Mike Smith was clearly proud of his team after their 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. He pronounced that they were “back on track” after the NFC South victory.

Here’s what he had to say after the game:

OPENING STATEMENT:  I felt we got back on track today in terms of our preparation this week. It was a very solid week of preparation. Especially in the second half of the ball game, we did what we feel like is our DNA that we want to do and that is to control both sides of the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively. We had some trouble in the first half, getting off on third down. In the second half, the final four drives of the ballgame ended in three-and-outs or interceptions and that’s the way you want to end a game. I felt like we were fairly solid across the board in terms of offense, defense and special teams. I really liked the way that we got our run game going. We did a nice job blocking up to the second level. When you get your offensive line up to the second level and have the wide receivers blocking down the field, then you have an opportunity to have explosive plays.

ON THE RUSHING ATTACK: We wanted to run the football and control the line of scrimmage, and that was what we wanted to do in the ballgame. It was our game plan, and that allowed us to control the clock.

ON SECOND HALF ADJUSTMENTS: I thought the coaching staff did a nice job at halftime. I also thought that the guys played better. We got more pressure on the quarterback, and that’s very important to get pressure on the quarterback. He had way too much time there in the first half and he was able to make some plays. I thought we collapsed the pocket in the second half and got him on the ground.

ON THE THREE INTERCEPTIONS: Any time you get a turnover, turnovers are a big part of the game. When we win the turnover battle and we win the turnover ratio, we win the majority of our games. That is something that we stress all the time; ball security and taking care of the ball.

ON CLOSING OUT THE WIN: That’s the way you would like every game to finish. In terms of envisioning it, that’s the way that you would want to finish games. For the entirety of the game, we were able to come back and make plays that we needed to make.

ON THE LATE THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: We went to Tony (Gonzalez) on an option route and then Harry (Douglas) got behind the defender man coverage. It was an outstanding throw that Matt (Ryan) was able to put right on target that kept the drives going.

ON RAY EDWARDS GETTING A SACK FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE GAME: Third down sacks are huge. It gets us off the field. We were struggling to get off the field in the first half and I felt like Ray really turned it up the second half of the ballgame.

ON CAM NEWTON: You learn something every day when you go out and play a game or go to practice. We obviously saw a very talented player. He is a very good player and he is hard to get on the ground. We’ll have to devise some things the next time we play them because it’s a divisional game. We’ll have to prepare for him again, so hopefully we’ll learn how to play him a little bit better.

ON COREY PETERS’ ONE-HANDED INTERCEPTION: My view of that probably wasn’t as good as your view, but I think it was a one-handed catch that he was able to take out of the air. The one thing I was very pleased with was asthe play continued, he finished with the position that you want a defensive linemen to have on the football, and that’s both hands on the ball. He did a great job. That was a great individual effort in reading the screen.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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86 comments Add your comment

David

October 16th, 2011
8:47 pm

Congrats Falcons!!!!Keep it up!!!!

David

October 16th, 2011
8:47 pm

Falcons Fan

October 16th, 2011
8:52 pm

All of the sudden the Falcons are back in the race with the Saints losing today. Only one game back and we still play the Saints twice and TB once.

JayCool 4DABirds

October 16th, 2011
9:05 pm

Big win for the Falcons today, YEAHHHH!!!!!

Falcon228

October 16th, 2011
9:25 pm

Complete game.

REAL FALCONS FAN

October 16th, 2011
9:31 pm

GREAT JOB FALCON’S! WAY TO FINISH,GREAT JOB COACHES AND PLAYER’S AND FANS ,AND YOU TO PRIME TIME SANDERS,AFTER NEWTON’S PRIME AD LIB HE FELL FLAT ON HIS TAIL YOU DON’T MIMICK THE MAN IN HIS OWN HOUSE ESPECIALLY WHEN HE’S GETTING HIS HALL OF FAME RING. AS A FALCON FAN I AM ENCOURAGED,AND PROUD.KEEP IT UP GUY’S THAT DEFENSE IS AWESOME WHEN YOU PLAY TOGETHER ,ALL 3 PHASES OF THE GAME WERE VERY FALCONLIKE,AND I WILL TAKE IT EVERY TIME. GO FALCON’S THIS IS THE FIRST GAME OF THE REST OF 2011 GO FALCON’S!

B'Red

October 16th, 2011
9:37 pm

The Falcons best game of the year so far. the offense stayed aggressive and the OL firing off the ball creating room for Turner..The defense also played aggressive.

SeenThisB4

October 16th, 2011
9:38 pm

Rough day for my team today, lost our HC on our third offensive play of the day, to start. And things just kept going down hill from there.

On the bright side, the falcan’ts will be catching the Lions in a very upset mood next week. LOL! That’s good. Detroit will open 4-1/2 points favorite.

I think the lions will rip out your hearts next week falcan’t fans! So, my advice is, don’t get emotionally invested in these pretenders!

Explosive!

October 16th, 2011
9:47 pm

Hey Coach, anything about Roddy’s disappearing act???

Mike …. what about Roddy White? Only 2 catches for the whole game … any comment on that? Was he not in the plan for today or did you just want to focus on running the ball??? Just one comment?? Mike???? … he’s gone

Brickhead Nelson

October 16th, 2011
9:59 pm

Freight Train Turner is back and nothing will stop da boys now. Keep getting the pigskin to da man and he will take over a game if he pounds the defense long enough. They hate to tackle Turner by the mid 3rd quarter……………..GREAT WIN

Loyal Falcon

October 16th, 2011
10:15 pm

That was a good win. I think we’ll be ready for the Detroit. We are gonna be fine fellow falcon fans

antman

October 16th, 2011
10:24 pm

I’m not so convinced with the win.Until that tipted ball and interseption in the endzone we were in for trouble, but I am thankful, we need all the luck we can get. And I did’nt see Dunta get burned today. Let’s just hope we can come away with a win in Detroit. Go Falcons

EuroFalcon

October 16th, 2011
10:59 pm

Oh yeah, we beat a 1-4 team in the first year of rebuilding. We are definitely back on track…

ejj

October 16th, 2011
11:09 pm

Started slow, but ended strong, good game

DR. FALCON

October 16th, 2011
11:16 pm

WHEN WE GO BACK TO BASICS, AND RUN THE BALL OVER 30 TIMES, THE RESULTS ARE GRATIFYING! WE ARE WHO WE ARE! TRYING TO BE EXPLOSIVE IS NICE, BUT, WE DON’T HAVE O-LINEMEN THAT CAN PASS BLOCK ON A CONSISTENT BASIS! I WILL TAKE 163YDS PASSING FROM RYAN AS LONG AS WE WIN!!! A SHAME THAT IT TOOK UNTIL WEEK 6 TO FIGURE THIS THING OUT!

DR. FALCON

October 16th, 2011
11:19 pm

BY THE WAY, WILL WE HEAR FROM HIRAMSAINT THIS WEEK? IT WON’T BE THE LAST TIME WE SEE BREES THROW 3 INT’S THIS YEAR LOL!

Big Ray

October 16th, 2011
11:20 pm

Mike Smith thinks that was an explosive offense. That’s all I needed to hear.

But hey, at least the Saints got beat down.

DR. FALCON

October 16th, 2011
11:22 pm

ANOTHER BY THE WAY, HAS ANYONE SEEN EAGLE FAN IN TEMECULA? HAVE NOT HEARD FROM HIM SINCE WEEK 6 OF LAST YEAR, WHEN THEY BEAT US IN PHILLY! WELL, THEY FINALLY WON A GAME! LOL! ANDY REID IS SAFE FOR ANOTHER WEEK!

cwltank

October 16th, 2011
11:25 pm

White beat coverage constantly, that is why we scored from 1 yard out twice. The defense did their thing,

CGD..

October 16th, 2011
11:41 pm

“Oh yeah, we beat a 1-4 team in the first year of rebuilding. We are definitely back on track…” lol

Yea same rhetoric for 46 years… Calm down Fanatics..beat a 1-5 team? Wow… 10 ta go!!

Oh did you folks see Joe flaco’s two bombs today over 50 yards each down the middle? Crazy..Oh the Ravens roll on to 4-1….

trademark

October 17th, 2011
3:43 am

Atlanta= trolling NFl fan capital of the world…damn they spend a LOT of time here…and commenting….seem kinda worried….hmm?

GHunt

October 17th, 2011
4:24 am

I owe Bosher an apology. He finally had a quality punting day worth of an NFL punter. Keep it up kid, we need you.

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
6:30 am

Would have loved to seen Aints HC knocked down like a Bowling Ball Pin, bet that was hilarious !

JSS

October 17th, 2011
6:37 am

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, nothing funny about man getting hit and tearing his knee and tibia up while trying to do his job… His leg got stuck in the ground, there was no way for the leg to go… Not anywhere as bad as Theissman, but it was ugly…

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
6:40 am

crackin up out here

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
6:42 am

I cant help myself I am just too mean !

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
6:53 am

Condolences to HC………………..get better soon! lol

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
6:57 am

Smitty in picture above telling Cam,…………..Welcome to NFL, hope you have great Career ! But not today my son !
Shocked here ! This was the scary team for me for Falcons to have to play ! Think Atlanta is ready to go on a roll now ! Big Game Sunday in Lions Den ! 49ers cracked the whips and the Lions knew who the Ring master was ! We shall see who the best Team is come Sunday !

Wingman

October 17th, 2011
6:58 am

Excellent Game! I thought Ryan played much better. He actually fought for yardage on a couple of his opportunities to run. He did not Butt slide this game and lose yardage and first downs like last game. Defense played a great game also. Great effort guys!

Big O

October 17th, 2011
7:09 am

I think the lack of preseason affected the Falcons somehow more than the average among NFL teams; and, they are just now showing signs of “gellin”.

However, I do think whatever is left in next year’s draft should start with more OL depth/talent.

SeenThisB_Falcon

October 17th, 2011
7:16 am

RISE UP!!!!! WERE BACK…GO FALCONS!!!

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
7:19 am

More like everybody put the weight of winning on Julio Jones like he was suppose to get it done and now finally the Team is getting its swagger or mojo back or together……………..maybe they are not Jinxed afterall ! They can win without Julio..we saw the result yesterday..Atlanta just has an array of talent. I like Harry Douglas myself and Little Rodgers needs to get more playing time also !

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
7:20 am

Defense played a hell-of-a-game yesterday…………….keep it going Big Guys !

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
7:28 am

By the way..you can come out of the Caverns Trolls…we dont bite ! You can bet that Da Birds had of dropped that one yesterday they been on these blogs lighting them up like a Christmas Tree in early October !
Have they posted the Aints HC getting mowed down on the sidelines yet ? I need a good laugh this morning !

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
7:41 am

Heard Coach Smitty is taking Boxing Lessons in case its needed up there in Detroit next Sunday after Lions Coach was seen trying to start something with 49ers Coach……………Coach Smitty says he will black your eye if ya lay a hand on him !

Peachtree John

October 17th, 2011
7:57 am

I’m glad that the Falcons won. But, my word, let’s don’t get too excited. The Panthers have won 1 time. If we win next week, then we can think about getting excited. I’ve watched them underperform for way too many years. Behind them all the way, but so boring.

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
8:06 am

Everybody likes to talk about the ” Big Game Passing Yards ” put up by a QB and percentage , etc., but in the real world its not suppose to be all on the QB alone to put up these spetacular performances…thats why you have running backs and a defense and special teams too . Its a Team thing ! Get it ?
Matt has a arm on him to throw the ball deep its just the timing pattern isnt down yet with receivers ………..for all these fools that say he cant throw deep well they are foolish !
The time will come when he will connect on those deep passes, then say he cant throw the long ball .

Jeff

October 17th, 2011
8:43 am

VanGorder has too go and his soft Zone defense too.

AlanFalcon

October 17th, 2011
8:52 am

They may be a 1-4 team but the Falcons are the first team to beat them by more than 7 points.
Go Falcons and Go Southern rush !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Samuel

October 17th, 2011
9:18 am

If Mike Smith thinks he’s team is back on track, then he’s fooling himself. They haven’t beat a team with a winning record. Try playing mistake free football and then will see. Iv’e been here since 1984 and other than the Braves winning a Championship in 92 and the Falcons going to the Superbowl in 98 there’s been little to cheer for.

factsRus

October 17th, 2011
9:29 am

I think you mean 1995 there Samuel, memory a little fuzzy?

Chubbyboy

October 17th, 2011
9:38 am

This weeks game is a must win going into the bye…The Falcons played better but the Panthers are 1-5 guys. You are suppose to beat 1-5 teams at home by 14 points.
I will hold my commnets until after next weeks game. This league is about playing .500 on the road and protecting home field (1 or 2 losses). So far the Falcons are 1-2 on the road with our only win against a team we were beating by 20 points in the 3rd and had to hang on for dear life.
This week’s game will be a statement game amd will go a long way in deciding who will be playing for the playoffs. Green Bay 6-0, Detroit 5-1 and the Bears 4-2. We have already lost to the Pack and Chicago thus losing a tiebreaker to both if we end up with the same record. I see at least 1 and possibly both wild cards coming from the North.
You can say what you want but this week’s game; I feel is going to be our season!!!

(STILL) 2-10 Against Ranked Teams

October 17th, 2011
9:40 am

SeenThisB4…….could you please remove that white FEMA trailer off from your Georgia subsidized lot?…..Katrina was 5 years ago and your government teat has run dry

Old White Haired Man

October 17th, 2011
9:44 am

aints got bucked…

coleski

October 17th, 2011
9:53 am

Let’s give the Falcons credit, they won. Hopefully they can continue to improve. I’m always apprehensive about them because I’ve been disappointed so many times. Since 1966.

SirReal

October 17th, 2011
10:02 am

A wins a win. Had they lost, we’d all have wigged out by now.lol With that said, BVG still needs to go. This secondary is still shaky. DeCoud is still garbage like the pick he had at the end of the game he called himself celebrating. What about the TWO you dropped a few weeks back there pretty boy?lol Anyway, it looks like they got back to running which is what we do. Until we get linemen that can withstand a bullrush ( SAM BAKER ) on each down, we can forget it. This line needs a lot more beef up front before you can start all the “explosive” talk. Still a long season. Good win but there’s a lot of work to do to right this ship and a win v.s. a rookie HC and QB doesn’t validate anything for me.

jmor

October 17th, 2011
10:07 am

Enter your comments here

jmor

October 17th, 2011
10:09 am

Turner won’t have those big holes to run through next week against Detroit. His big day was a function of the Panther’s poor defense. Without a better passing game, the Falcons are not a playoff team.

trademark

October 17th, 2011
10:18 am

Still more trolls…damn, they are WORRIED…you know, if Smith is right, and the Falcons are on track, there is going to be some hell to pay. Ever consider that he may be right, trolls? Of COURSE you have, that’s what you’re doing hanging out here on a team’s website that you hate…PERFECT example of ignorance…jmor…”Turner won’t have those big holes to run through next week against Detroit. His big day was a function of the Panther’s poor defense.” Detroit is near the BOTTOM OF THE DAMNED LEAGUE in rush defense. So were the Panthers. The Falcons sent their butts to the bottom in a hurry. More of the same coming. Enjoy.

jmor

October 17th, 2011
10:50 am

trademark…I can tell you are a very smart guy by your foolish post. The Falcons wil struggle against every poor team this year, and may not defeat a winning team all year. Who have they defeated? All losing teams. Stop drinking the kool aid.