Q&A: Mike Smith discusses his disappointment

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, right, shakes hands with New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin before their NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, right, shakes hands with New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin before their NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Here’s what Falcons coach Mike Smith had to say after the game.

Obvioulsy, the game [didn't go] the way we wanted [it] to go today. We didn’t make enough plays offensively, defensively or on special teams to get the outcome that we wanted. We struggled in several areas of the ballgame today. They won the battle of the line of scrimmage and that was one of the ‘musts’ we had to accomplish and we didn’t get it accomplished today. With that, I’ll open it up for questions.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OFFENSE?: We weren’t able to put the ball in the end zone. We pride ourselves on controlling the line of scrimmage. I thought it was evident that we couldn’t get it done throughout the ball game. Even though our quarterback was sacked once or maybe twice officially. He was harassed all day and we weren’t able to get our running game going. There were two opportunities where we needed to convert on fourth-and- less than one. I have all the confidence in the world in that group and we didn’t get that done.

ON WHY HE WENT WITH THE EMPTY BACKFIELD ON FOURTH-AND-ONE (SECOND TIME): It was less than a yard. It was about a half of a yard, maybe even less than that. That was the play again, we go through and we sequence those things out all through the week. We felt that was the play we had up and we just didn’t execute. We felt like, at any point in time, we ought to be able to move the football less than a half a yard with a quarterback sneak.

ON IF THEY THOUGHT ABOUT THE FIELD GOAL: It was considered because of the score at that time. You could have gone ahead and attempted the field goal, but I felt and we felt as a staff and as a offense that we could move the ball. We wanted to [get] seven points just like we did earlier in the ball game. On the first one, we were just about at the range with our kicker [for] the attempt. On the second one, it was definitely inside [his range] and we could have had a go at it if we wanted to attempt the field goal.

ON THE FOURTH-AND-1 THAT HE DIDN’T GO FOR IT: My thought on that is that we had a little bit more than a yard. It wasn’t a yard or less. It was a crucial time in the ball game. There were a handful of them that stood out in the ball game. I think one of the areas was the short yardage or not being able to convert on that third down and we ended up about a yard to a half a yard short.

ON WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OFFENSIVE LINE; DID THEY BLTIZ MORE?: I don’t think they did. They are not a big blitzing team. I think they were opportunistic when they did blitz. But they did win the line of scrimmage and there is no doubt about that. It was very evident as you watched the ball game in person. [When] we watch the film, I think we’ll see that being confirmed.

ON THE GIANTS BEING ABLE TO RUN THE BALL: We had a couple of misfits there in the first half on the first score where Brandon Jacobs broke [loose for a 34-yard run]. But I was surprised there especially at the end that they were able to run the ball the way they did.

ON BRENT GRIMES NOT PLAYING: You want to have all of your best players. Brent was not able to go today. We made a decision based on how he was feeling this morning. He was not able to go. You want to have all of your guys. But again at this point in the season you’re going to have guys that are injured and other guys are going to have to step up. We’d like to have all of our starters out there, but unfortunately we were not able to. We lost [safety] William Moore early in the ball game as well.

ON WHY THEY DIDN’T THROW ANY DEEP PASSES: Their pass rush, I thought they did a very good job [of] putting pressure on our quarterback and we weren’t able to hold up to get the ball down the field. We weren’t able to throw the ball deep throughout the entire game. There were very few opportunities to throw the ball down the field.

ON HIS EMOTIONS IN THE LOCKER ROOM AFTER THE GAME: Disappointed. Disappointed in the finality of it. When you are in the playoffs it’s tough to have that meeting. We did not play very well. I think it was evident by the scoreboard and by the performance that we put out there. It’s not the type of football that we want to play. We’ll start on the 2012 season tomorrow. That’s the way that our coaching staff will pursue this. It’s the next season already. We’re going to learn from this. We are going to learn from every game that we play and try not to be in this situation again.

ON IF HE THOUGHT THE FALCONS TOOK A STEP BACKWARDS THIS SEASON: I don’t. We didn’t play consistent football. I think that our roster, we made some moves and we’ve got some guys that are going to be very good football players for years to come. Unfortunately, the record wasn’t as good and we ended up not playing beyond the first game of the playoffs. That’s a disappointment. It’s a disappointment for every man in that room; players, coaches and staff. It’s something [where] we’re going to do everything in our power, starting tomorrow to get it better and get it fixed.

ON IF HE’S CONTEMPLATING ANY CHANGES ON THE COACHING STAFF: I’m not going to make any decision on the personnel or the coaching staff. We just finished the game 15- 20 minutes ago. We will always have a complete evaluation of everything we do in our football operations and that starts tomorrow.

ON NOT WINNING THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE: At the core of what we want to do as a football team, we said it the first day that we got here, is that we want to control the line of scrimmage. Be able to control it and run the football, to control it and protect our quarterback because that is at the crux of what we believe will lead us to success. And we did not do that today. It’s a concern when we did not have the outcome that we want.

ON GOING 0-3 IN THE PLAYOFFS: You get what you earn in this league. We earned a 10-6 record in the regular season, we were 0-1 in the playoffs. We did not play our best game and we are going to, starting tomorrow, do everything in our power to rectify the 10-6 record from the regular season and the 0-1 record in the postseason. That is the only way I know how to approach it and I know as an organization we will approach it.

ON WHAT THEY COULDN’T DO IN THE GAME: There were a number of things. In the ball game today I don’t know if there was anything that you could take and say gosh we did this very well for the entirety of the game. It was a lot like our season. We were very inconsistent. We were very inconsistent through our entire season. We played some plays good. We played some that were not so good. That’s really the story of our 2011 season.

ON HOW THE GIANTS STOPPED JULIO JONES AND RODDY WHITE: I thought they were doing a good job of getting their hands on them at the line of scrimmage. There were certain things that they did schematically at certain times in the game where they were not allowing the free releases and again that will allow the defense to play the shorter passes because they are not able to get down the field.

ON RODDY WHITE’S DROPS AND IF THEY WERE A PART OF THE INCONSISTENCIES: That inconsistency starts with me. I take full responsibility for it. Every man in that room, we all put ownership on it. People talk about having signature games and you’ve got to have your signature win. We put our name on every game that we play in the National Football League. Every man in that room puts his name on that game when we play. Whether if it’s the first game of the season or the 17th game of the season. We are all responsible for it.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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370 comments Add your comment

SadFan

January 8th, 2012
9:17 pm

Bad news Falcons!!! 1st!!!

SadFan

January 8th, 2012
9:18 pm

Birds………..You could not have been worst if you tried!!

SadFan

January 8th, 2012
9:20 pm

F-Falcons
A-Always
L-Losing
C-Counting
O-On
N-Next
S-Season

ramblingbuzz

January 8th, 2012
9:24 pm

We just didn’t get it done. That’s an understatement if I ever heard one. Anyone feel like asking: “Why didn’t you?”

fan of falcons

January 8th, 2012
9:25 pm

I’ll make the coaching decision if it is too soon for you! Please get rid of offensive coordinator now. Even if he may be good, he doesn’t motivate his guys. Done. Gone. Whatever goes on with pass defense, fix it. It is bad. Fix the personnel, the players or fix the coach, it is very ineffective. Other teams endure pass rushes and get the ball downfield, what is the deal? This was a pitiful effort. I just hope it was bad enough to cause some drastic changes. Yes we had a winning season, but just barely and next year you can be sure that the Panthers are going to be a dynamic team.

P B Orr

January 8th, 2012
9:26 pm

I thought it could not get worse than last year’s game – but it did. I should train myself not to think things cannot get worse. We had Clinton, then we had Bush. This was the Bush of playoff losses, after last year’s Clinton. What’s next? Santorum?

Talking Head

January 8th, 2012
9:26 pm

What a bunch of losers.

Hope all the losers enjoy watching these losers for the next 4 or 5 years… as they don’t get to draft again until like 2015.

Talking Head

January 8th, 2012
9:28 pm

As every AJC “writer” and sports talk talking head has been telling us for a year… Tebow will never play in the NFL.

Guess what he has the Falcons dont?

ground_fog

January 8th, 2012
9:29 pm

Maybe Ryan can learn from Tebow on how to throw a deep ball.. Unreal..giants have an avg defense ..nothing like the steelers. If mularkey isn’t fired I will never support this team. With that said, Ryan proved he is average.

ozzfest

January 8th, 2012
9:30 pm

SELL THE TEAM, JEB.

hiramsaint

January 8th, 2012
9:32 pm

@ pb orr- what i saw today was the obama of playoff losses. a team like a president who has no business being there and not knowing what to do while they are there

section108

January 8th, 2012
9:32 pm

1. Offensive Coordinator
2. Defensive Backs
3. O-line
4. Pass Rush

ground_fog

January 8th, 2012
9:34 pm

Who has a brighter future the Lions of Falcons? Lions..this team has overpaid free agents, bad draft picks and terrible coaching against elite teams. This team is going nowhere under the current regime

Carmine

January 8th, 2012
9:34 pm

All the Atlanta pro teams and fans are losers

P B Orr

January 8th, 2012
9:34 pm

POAD hiram and go home – move to the swamp, you’re not fit to hang out in that great city. It figures your one of those rightwing lunatics.

Talking Head

January 8th, 2012
9:36 pm

agree section 108.

Also

Ability
Class
Heart

AND a PLAYOFF WIN

hiramsaint

January 8th, 2012
9:37 pm

right wing has nothing to do with it . failure on the economy and adherance to the constitution does . go live in russia you socialist

Karl

January 8th, 2012
9:38 pm

I still can’t believe the Falcons front office thought they were only one player away from being in the Super Bowl, hence the deal for Julio Jones. I thought at the time, and continue to think, they are at least 4 or 5 players away. Do something about that crappy O line. Do something about that horrible pass defense. And yes, I think Malarkey has to go.

kevkat

January 8th, 2012
9:38 pm

5. Quarterback
6. Coach…..

not really I guess

Talking Head

January 8th, 2012
9:38 pm

Glad the Falcons traded away years of picks for that Explosion play on 3rd and 18 when he caight a 9 yard pass.

Impressive!

Sam

January 8th, 2012
9:38 pm

Mike smith is in full denial. Talk is cheap. This loser will never win a sb

Tommy Maddox

January 8th, 2012
9:39 pm

Hey Carmine – how many Falcons fans get to block rushers or catch short passes? Not many.

Loser.

I Remember when they drafted Nobis

January 8th, 2012
9:39 pm

I have been a fan since the Falcons were an expansion team and I was 12 years old. I have seen a LOT of Falcons losses.
This defeat hurts more (maybe because it the freshest), but I think it is because I am convinced that we have a better team. How do you lose so badly to a team with inferior personnel and statistically inferior throughout the year? Either it is a lack of effort or poor coaching decisions.
Never thought football coaches were the brightest people on the planet, but some can make “in game” adjustments. Doing the same thing because you planned on it is just crazy. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is crazy. How can we “sell the farm” and get Ryan more weapons and then not use them? This one is embarrassing and should make everyone question the coaching staffs game plan and decisions.

Falcon Realist

January 8th, 2012
9:41 pm

Ray Edwards! Did he play today? Yes! Was his name called? No! Great free agent signing :(

Who will we give up 5 picks for in this year’s draft? We are 1 player away from a playoff win.

waynester

January 8th, 2012
9:42 pm

hiramsaint gets the last word on this one–we stunk….

Just a thought!

January 8th, 2012
9:43 pm

I love that “signature” approach Coach Smith took to the drops & another unfulfilled year! Truly, it’s going to take more than just talent, but also, fortitude & time before consistency is experienced on a regular basis! Personally speaking, I think the athletes of our city should “re-prioritize!” Stop the end zone celebrating, the “off-line” conversations, & do your jobs! It’s not the offensive coordinator fault that we did not execute today. I remember when our star safety was arrested the night before the Superbowl (who does that!) I believe that when we take ownership, we’ll prosper! Until then, our Braves, Hawks, Dawgs, Falcons so on & so forth will continue to lead the nation in celebrations, but no Championships! I feel the worst for Tony G. though! Man, I hope we win a Superbowl for him!

MTSeats

January 8th, 2012
9:46 pm

I can hear it now, 2012, Falcons 8-8, Smitty, it’s on me. It’s a process.

UGA Fan...

January 8th, 2012
9:47 pm

Fire……..SOMEBODY!! Start with Bobo….

Sam

January 8th, 2012
9:47 pm

Another crucial drop by roddy white. He’s a bum

FalconfanAnt

January 8th, 2012
9:47 pm

Matt Ryan,Mularkey,VanGorder,Lofton(smh). Our team did not Man Up! Our team looked alot like our worst Falcons teams of the past! Please do not give me the bs about not being able to throw down field! Please do not say that you thought you could get a half yard on a sneek with a weak QB!
But what you should and can say for the Fans of this Team is this,”Changes Will Be Made”!
Ryan will not and I repeat, will not get us to the next level!!!!!
I HOPE LIKE HELL THAT HE MAKES ME EAT MY WORDS!!!!!

Bombs away

January 8th, 2012
9:48 pm

There’s nothing wrong with the Falcons that a new team couldn’t cure. Can’t block, can’t tackle, can’t gain inches on 4th down, can’t knock down passes, Predictable offence: run up the middle, run up the middle, incompleted pass, then punt. Predictable defence: Let them catch the ball, but lmake them catch them in front of you, then hope to tackle them – with help. Roddy White’s new name should be “Foot Steps.”

Carmine

January 8th, 2012
9:48 pm

Yo Tommy

Maybe you can go hunt’n and fish’n while the NY Giants are playing the Packers next weekend. Loser!

painter

January 8th, 2012
9:48 pm

Fire yourself loser, and get rid of happy feet, noodle arm Matt Ryan. Another joke of a performance from a joke of a team in a joke of a professional sports city. When will anybody stand strong and confident in this town? You saw an elite QB and a QB who has no idea how to win a playoff again, so sick of this team of clowns.

Joe

January 8th, 2012
9:52 pm

Nice guy, but his time here should be up. So sick and tired of settling for Bobby Cox, Mike Smith, Mark Richt, Mike Woodson, etc, etc, etc…sick and effing tired of having whimps leading our teams, no balls to win games….

monty

January 8th, 2012
9:52 pm

ESPN Berman called it an embarrassment. Can’t get any 3rd or 4th and 1.He was right.

thouhtful

January 8th, 2012
9:52 pm

Ray Edwards??????

RISE UP? WAKE UP!!!!

January 8th, 2012
9:55 pm

Please let this be the last Q&A with Smith as Falcons coach. Make it happen Blank!!!

monty

January 8th, 2012
9:55 pm

Tebow the QB that wan’t good enough to even be an NFL QB just won his 1st game. Sometimes it’s about whats inside. Matt Ryan, gets’ panicky when pressured, Manning just steps up and drills a perfect pass between defenders. So much for the “ICE” mantra.

monty

January 8th, 2012
9:56 pm

Giants were last in the league against the run.

corvette63

January 8th, 2012
9:56 pm

the bad news falcons what an embarassment whoever calls the plays needs to look for a real job

Joe

January 8th, 2012
9:57 pm

Ray Edwards is a thief, just like Speedy Claxton and Ed Hartwell before him. The good news is that he is so dumb that he will probably be broke in 6 or 7 years.

Turnbull

January 8th, 2012
9:57 pm

monty

January 8th, 2012
9:58 pm

Until this team can win in the trenches it will never win a playoff game. Houston won with their 3rd string QB.

Chopper

January 8th, 2012
10:03 pm

FOR SALE

1 used and abused football team likes red and black colors and do well in season…….then go in playoffand be one n dun. Do it ever year. Can keep same ole mangers and coaches ..Idun ‘t care.

Will sell or trade whole works for good used dependable volkswagon or a well used fiat !
otherwise askin price can be nogotiated

Contact me at Auther Blank @ we know where duh falcons are going

waynelaster

January 8th, 2012
10:04 pm

I am speechless, that was the worst offensive play calling I have ever seen. The TD should fire the entire coaching staff. We need better coaches, Smith & his misfits just made to many errors throughout the season. Our interior lineman were awful & can someone explain to me why we are playing Zone Def. SMH………

mark

January 8th, 2012
10:07 pm

this team is a joke the staff the players all we are years behidn elite teams, we need a new qb because ryan cant win the big game he pisses his pants every time there is a big game! and look tebow swag and pride can get you a w

GT = Dumpster Fire

January 8th, 2012
10:09 pm

How about Paul Johnson as Falcons offensive coordinator and Al Groh as Falcons defensive coordinator?

done

January 8th, 2012
10:16 pm

smitty could have answered all these questions with 2 words – “we stink”

Pete

January 8th, 2012
10:18 pm

This is an Average NFL team with Average players with an Average coaching staff.
You add all this up and what do you get ???
Dismal losses in EVERY Prime Time game against Prime Time teams and 0-3 in Playoff games.
“Average” in everything gets you nothing in the post season in this league. NOTHING.
And that is what the Atlanta fans are served up year after year after year.
Great stuff, huh ???

KTFalcons

January 8th, 2012
10:19 pm

First of all no provide, ownership, win men ship. Second no passionate or love for the game or guidance for the game. We had been here the past 3 years, no comment, no drive, no goal most of all no loyalty. Coach Smith could and will be a good coach somewhere, the question here is it here?