Saints 31, Falcons 27: Q&A with coach Mike Smith

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith calls out in the first half an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith calls out in the first half an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

NEW ORLEANS — Falcons coach Mike Smith touched on the short yardage offense, Matt Ryan’s play and Asante Samuel’s unsportsmanlike penalty after the Falcons were handed their first loss of the season on Sunday.

Here’s what he had to say:

OPENING STATEMENT: “I felt like this was a hard fought football game in terms of the effort. We made way too many mistakes in all three phases. I felt like we had many opportunities. We have to convert when we get in these third-and-1 situations. I know there were two early in the ball game that we didn’t convert. We talked about having to score touchdowns in the red zone. We have to do that when we are down there. With that, I’ll open it up for questions.”

Q: Could you explain the problems with the short-yardage offense?

A: “We had two third-and-1s. One we tried to run. The other we tried to throw it. We are not getting the surge that we need to on the run plays. We’ve got to be able to move the line of scrimmage in those third down-and-1 situations. Those are to the advantage of the offense. We are not getting that done right now. We didn’t get that done today.”

Q: At 28-24, did you consider going for a two-point conversion?

A: “No. There was still 13 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. You don’t even start looking at that two-point chart until you are seven or eight minutes into the fourth quarter. If you miss that two point conversion then you are flipped on the other side of it in terms of the score. You look at the (card) with about seven or eight minutes left usually on two point conversions.”

Q: Was it the inability to convert on short yardage that led to the passes at the end?

A: “Yes. We did not run the ball very effectively. They did a nice job with their penetration and knocking the line of scrimmage back. It wasn’t always blitzes or stunts. They did a nice job of penetrating in the backfield.”

Q: How unfathomable was it that you wouldn’t get a touchdown right there at the end?

A: “They have been playing a lot better defense and a lot better as a football team over the last four weeks. They had won three out of their last four. They are playing with a lot of confidence. When these two teams meet you can throw the records out the window because it’s going to be a hard fought battle and unfortunately we didn’t do enough to get it done today.”

Q: Did you talk to Asante Samuel after his penalty that compromised the second drive?

A: “I certainly did. Those are what we categorize as not the type of penalties that we want to have. We want aggressive penalties. Instead of having the ball on the 12, it knocked us back out to starting the drive on the 27. We can’t have those types of penalties. We want to play penalty free football on special teams. We had one early. We had one in the third quarter and we had one there on the last punt. In terms of getting the ball in good field position (that hurts). We had a chance and we had a 10 yard penalty which basically knocked the ball much farther back from where we’d like to start with no timeouts on that last drive.”

Q: How frustrating was it not scoring that touchdown when you had the ball on the 1-yard line?

A: “It’s very frustrating whether if it’s 1-yard or 10-yards when you don’t win. It’s frustrating because that’s why we are playing the games. We want to get the win. We were close and we weren’t able to get that accomplished. We’ll learn from that. We’ll evaluate it as a staff. This will be something that we learn from as we move forward.”

Q: How were they (the 32nd ranked run defense) able to shut down your running game?

A: “Again, I’m going to have to watch the tape. But we definitely did not run the football with the efficiency we need to or wanted to or thought we could. That’s for sure. We’ve got to not have those empty yards in terms of not getting touchdowns out of them. We moved the football and when you get down in the red zone you want to be efficient all of the time and there were two times that we did not score touchdowns when we were down there.”

Q: Were you all just getting pushed back off the ball?

A: “Until I get an opportunity to watch the tape. I’ll be better able to speak on that. But obviously, we did not win the line of scrimmage in our run game at least from what I saw from the sideline.”

Q: Did you think Matt (Ryan) was going to pull out another one?

A: “You have got to be comfortable with the ball in Matt Ryan’s hand there at the end of the ball game when we needed to go down there and score. We just didn’t get it accomplished. My hats off to the New Orleans Saints. They won the football game.”

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110 comments Add your comment

william cranman

November 11th, 2012
6:45 pm

No running game equates to 1 and done in the playoffs.

Fred Macmurray

November 11th, 2012
6:46 pm

With all due respect to coach Smith that was very very stupid not going for 2 in that situation. That PAT was useless.

AtlantaDude

November 11th, 2012
6:47 pm

The Falcons NEED A RUNNING BACK.

Michael Turner’s yards-per-carry average is bad enough, but if you take out his occassional long run, it would be even worse. He gets stuffed for no gain or a small gain on the majority of his runs.

According to the advanced stats site http://www.footballoutsiders.com, even before this week’s game Turner ranked 27th out of 34 featured running backs, with just 43% of his carries being effective. He also ranks near the bottom in two metrics that adjust yards per carry based on situation and opponent.

Imagine how good this team would be if we had a legitimate running game

Fred Macmurray

November 11th, 2012
6:47 pm

I now have to question his jugement.

monty

November 11th, 2012
6:52 pm

I’ve been saying for weeks now they just can’t push anyone around on short yardage run situations. like on the goal line, and it came back to bite them. Gotta be able to jam it down a good teams throat when you get the chance, not lose yardage every time you run!

blove

November 11th, 2012
6:53 pm

U garbage a$$ fans really thought y’all were going to win. Y’all a bunch
Of frauds like I said before.

4BsihTneeS

November 11th, 2012
6:54 pm

As the sun begins to set in the Big Easy, there are now two things true, that weren’t true on Friday:

1. The fal can’ts are no longer undefeated.
2. There’s now plenty of room on that bandwagon in atlanta, plenty of room.

G EAUX SAINT S !!!

zac

November 11th, 2012
6:56 pm

Turner is not the same running back he used to be when we acquired him. Shades of tip-toe Duckett. He is awful.

keith

November 11th, 2012
6:58 pm

I do not understand why Michael Turner remains the starter. It is absolutely dumbfounding. He must have dirt on someone??? hmmmmmmm?

Jimmy

November 11th, 2012
6:59 pm

Wow. I write up a detailed analysis on what the Falcons problems are, IMO, and it doesn’t get past the filter. Nice job AJC.

Chucktown falconfan

November 11th, 2012
7:00 pm

A few things to consider,

1. We played a bad game today and still had a chance to win. Away, against a desperate team.
2. This game exposed alot of things to correct . . . blocking, running the ball, tackling, getting to the QB.
3. No more undefeated BS.
4. Losing wakes a team up to focus more on the little things ie No. 2.
5. Back under the radar b/c everyone will write us off. They were waiting to anyway.

We’re still a good team . . . a playoff team, holding serve to break out wk15,16, playoffs, SB!!!!
Go Falcons! In it to win it.

Jimmy

November 11th, 2012
7:00 pm

Yet that goes through, as this will too. So much for freedom of speech huh?

mgm

November 11th, 2012
7:00 pm

No running game.

MTSeats

November 11th, 2012
7:03 pm

It’s a process

Fred Macmurray

November 11th, 2012
7:05 pm

As the sun sets on the big Sleazy the Falcons still have a commanding lead in the NFC South, put that in your turduckin and smoke it.

Jimmy

November 11th, 2012
7:05 pm

D-Led,

TWO of my posts didn’t make it past the filter. Could you email me, or reply here on what exactly it was that I said that made it so?? Unbelievable man!!!!!

Bronkelliott

November 11th, 2012
7:06 pm

Running game is just outright awful. Nuff said.!

WS

November 11th, 2012
7:06 pm

Add part of no run game on o-line. Backs are hit in back field. I think McClure has been a good center for a long time. I think it is time too change. Konzs at center and Hawley at left guard.

Jimmy

November 11th, 2012
7:06 pm

This blog is almost as pathetic as the Falcons running game offensively and their ability to stop it on defense!

4BsihTneeS

November 11th, 2012
7:06 pm

Saint s own the fal can’ts. 11 of the last 13. LOL!

MTSeats

November 11th, 2012
7:08 pm

Buy your seat license now, Arthur wants a new stadium. Taxpayers will foot the rest.

hiramsaint

November 11th, 2012
7:09 pm

SMAKDOWN IN THE LOMBARDI DOME

Eric C.

November 11th, 2012
7:09 pm

I’m sorry, but this isn’t on Turner…the OL stinks at run-blocking. Also, no one asked about the run defense…pathetic as well.

Fred Macmurray

November 11th, 2012
7:11 pm

The problem with Turner is he cant change direction or improv if nothing is there, which is often the case, and rarely breaks tackles. Oh and our run blocking $ux. They have to improve on that if they want to win a playoff game.

3rd and goal

November 11th, 2012
7:11 pm

3rd and goal, game on the line and you call up a running play after you did nothing all day (except the off tackle run by Jacquizz). Give me a break. You have an elite group of 3 guys that can go up and get it and you decide to run Turner up the middle? brilliant!! I wouldn’t have as big a problem with a loss and getting away from this undefeated nonsense, but why did u have to do it against the Aints!!

Eric C.

November 11th, 2012
7:11 pm

4BsihTneeS, congrats on the victory today, but your team is still 4-5 and 4 games behind. I’m looking forward to the Thursday night game…hopefully Weatherspoon will be back for that one.

Tom Dawg

November 11th, 2012
7:11 pm

Smackdown????? Really, how delusional can one be?

Ivan

November 11th, 2012
7:12 pm

And everyone blamed MM for the awful short yardage play.

Bench turner and we see an immediate improvement

WTF#33

November 11th, 2012
7:12 pm

I wish M Smith wud have the guts to bench Turner and let Rogers start. Rogers has great agility and make people miss, he does not need a gaping hole to get atleast positive yards. Turner puts the team behind the chains every series we give him the ball. That is tough for any offense to convert 3rd and 9 consistently after wasting two downs running Turner. BTW I have been saying this since the first game and not because we lost today. I knew it would eventually bite us in the butt not having a run game.

Fred Macmurray

November 11th, 2012
7:12 pm

Not hardly a Smack Down, you guys barely won. Thats funny. The smackdown is comming in 2 weeks.

Eric C.

November 11th, 2012
7:12 pm

3rd and goal, well said

Eric C.

November 11th, 2012
7:14 pm

Folks, are you serious…Turner is one of the best in goal-line situations…something is wrong when even he can’t get a sniff of the endzone. This all on the OL…Rodgers ypc stinks as well.

4BsihTneeS

November 11th, 2012
7:14 pm

And maybe we will have Sproles back by then…

Wabe

November 11th, 2012
7:15 pm

Why would you question not going for 2? I wasn’t even thinking about a 2 point conversion there…

We had 4 opportunities to get it from that spot and failed. That was the ballgame. Not this issue of not going for 2 to cut it to 3.

The redzone offense is what lost this game for the Falcons. That paired with a pretty inept looking defense for most of the game.

Reality Check

November 11th, 2012
7:15 pm

They are not built for the playoffs. They could have easily lost 4 games against teams with losing records. Great records get you nowhere in the postseason. If the goal is to finally win a playoff game, they may actually do that but little else!!

Adogg36

November 11th, 2012
7:16 pm

Special teams also.

Wabe

November 11th, 2012
7:16 pm

11 of 13 don’t put you in the playoffs…

Wabe

November 11th, 2012
7:18 pm

So who is ‘built for the playoffs’ if ‘almost losing 4 games against teams with losing records’ signals such a thing?

How many losses do the Giants have to teams with losing records? Not ‘almost losing’ but actually losing? Not to mention them ‘almost losing’ to the same redskins team that we ‘almost lost’ to.

Sam

November 11th, 2012
7:20 pm

Why is franks still returning punts? He hasn’t return one for more than 10 yds

WTF#33

November 11th, 2012
7:21 pm

Why do everyone keep blaming the OL for this out of shape slow RB horrible performance week after week. This is the same OL with the exception of one guy when Turner was fresh and not as fat as he is now when he was putting up pro bowl numbers. This guy better days are behind him, you mean to tell me that the OL has to block perfectly on every run for this guy to atleast get back to the line of scrimmage. Get the H out of here, he is washed up.

Bronkelliott

November 11th, 2012
7:23 pm

Better to lose now and correct the gaping mistakes than get embarrassed in the playoffs. I think Smith and the o line will tighten up for the running game. I am still concerned about the defense against gun slinging quarterbacks. Let’s not get too down on our team. They are still fun to watch and are always in every game no matter how tight the game is. You have to admit Gonzales had a great game. Go Falcons and keep playing hard.

Ron Roberts

November 11th, 2012
7:24 pm

Jason Snelling is the forgotten man in that backfield. Why are we not handing him the rock more?

Samuels’ moronic penalty probably cost us 4; the penalty on the last punt hurt, too. Roddy HAS to catch that last bomb … he does, we win. I think if Tony hauls in that last pass, we’re 50/50 to pull it out from there.

On defense, we made good adjustments and stifled their offense to only putting 10 on the board in the 2nd half; kudos for that, but we have to make adjustments DURING the first half, too. Not enough pressure on Brees today, and he torched us. Same ol’ song in that scenario. Very little mention of Ray Edwards (no surprise) OR John Abraham.

Other’n that, Matt Ryan played a hell of a game.

killer instinct

November 11th, 2012
7:24 pm

Falcons gave that game away.

KB

November 11th, 2012
7:25 pm

Man up and punch the ball in!!!!!!!!!

Esquire

November 11th, 2012
7:27 pm

Woulda, shoulda, coulda, just a cornucopia of things that kept us from the W, other than the Caints.
They get this one, congrats, see you in Atlanta!!

WE ARE THE MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS!!!

PHOENIX FALCON

November 11th, 2012
7:27 pm

Turner must Go , and i mean Now.

Eric C.

November 11th, 2012
7:27 pm

Wabe, great points

Sam, the Falcons punt return game has to be the worst in the league, is it?

WTF#33, did you see any creases in those short yardage scenarios? I definitely don’t think Turner is the best back around, but he hasn’t dropped off that much

Once Recent Reader

November 11th, 2012
7:29 pm

Hey . . .is the AJC Time Server not up to speed on the Time Change?

singhisking

November 11th, 2012
7:29 pm

how about benching 33 turner ! tooooo slowwwwweww!

Eric C.

November 11th, 2012
7:29 pm

I’ve blamed Turner plenty of times in the recent past, and believe he has lost a step, but he is still the best option in 3rd and short situations…need a good FB as well.