Atlanta Falcons: Plan is to ‘play to win’ final regular-season game




FLOWERY BRANCH–The Falcons’ 31-18 victory at Detroit last night made the results of Sunday’s regular-season finale irrelevant to Atlanta’s playoff seeding but coach Mike Smith said that doesn’t mean the game doesn’t matter.

Atlanta (13-2) wrapped up the NFC’s top seed with the victory over the Lions and will enjoy a bye week and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Smith, asked today if he has a plan on how long he will play his starters Sunday against the Buccaneers, said: “We’re going to play the game to win.”

“That’s how we approach it,” he said. “It’s an important game because it’s division game. All games are important. Does it have no bearing? It really does because we want to win every time we go out there to play.”

Falcons players are off until Wednesday. Smith said he and his staff will be at the team’s facility over the next couple days but won’t stay as late as usual.

This is the second time the Falcons have earned the NFC’s top seed with Smith as coach. They also had the conference’s best record in 2010 only to lose 48-21 to the Packers in their first playoff game.

Smith said that experience prompted him to alter his bye-week plan.

“We’re going to do things differently this time around during the bye week,” Smith said. “We’ll handle it differently in terms our workload and the days that we are going to work during our bye week and what our schedule will be. We are not going to do anything like we did last time.”

89 comments Add your comment

Billy

December 23rd, 2012
3:10 pm

First (whatever!)

[...] Atlanta Falcons: Plan is to ‘play to win’ final regular-season game – Atlanta Jour… [...]

don

December 23rd, 2012
3:38 pm

any clarification on what “doing things differently” means?

1990_Champs_GT

December 23rd, 2012
3:46 pm

don
December 23rd, 2012
3:38 pm

any clarification on what “doing things differently”
******

It means Smitty will sing “Don’t stop believing” in karaoke to the team.

As for me, I’ll start believing when I start seeing playoff wins,

falconfreak

December 23rd, 2012
3:54 pm

i think they will treat this game like the 3rd preseason game. starters for 2.5 qtrs. this would give mat , roddy and tony some time to set a few records.

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

December 23rd, 2012
4:02 pm

As long as the “doing things differently this time” means quit trying to run Turner so much (especially on first down), then I truly believe they will accomplish a lot in the playoffs. Smith and Koetter have to utilize Rogers and Snelling more or the run offensive will continue to struggle.

FanSinceBartkowski

December 23rd, 2012
4:43 pm

I guess you mean “this is the second time the Falcons have earned the NFC’s top seed” under Coach Smith because they were the number one seed in 1980 when they lost to Dallas in the divisional playoffs. Or maybe you just have to be a fan since Bartkowski to remember that. Anyway, this is the year that being seeded number one works in our favor.

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

December 23rd, 2012
4:45 pm

Completely agree, once again turner was inneffective, however i did like the array of screen passes we threw at detroit. And that second td to roddy, did anyone see that beautiful block baker made to set roddy up for the td, very nice blocking from baker. I feel for our boy konz, he had a tough day with ol boy suh.

MT

December 23rd, 2012
4:48 pm

1990_Champs_GT Hmm…. 22 years ago

violet123

December 23rd, 2012
5:02 pm

I would like the Falcons to wear old school uniform ( red helmet and black shirt ) for the Falcons playoffs and probably for the Super Bowl.

TechNut

December 23rd, 2012
5:38 pm

yeah that’d be nice! ^

Whiznot

December 23rd, 2012
5:40 pm

Blast the Bucs. Whomp ‘em up side da head!

Casey

December 23rd, 2012
5:42 pm

@FanSinceBartkowski

That’s what he said. “with Smith as coach.”

thejama

December 23rd, 2012
5:47 pm

Bottom line is to make sure every single player has had time to heal (William Moore) and is ready to go for the playoffs. Bucs also have no reason to play for so hopefully we can get out of the game injury free with our 14th Win.

playmeortrademe

December 23rd, 2012
5:48 pm

I really hope Smith doesn’t trot out his starters in a meaningless game, even for a quarter or two. This isn’t pre-season, it’s game #16. Get healthy, don’t risk anyone significant. Hey Mike, it is not an important game at all. Those start in three weeks. And I also wonder what his grand plan is for the bye week. Whatever it is, if it works, he’ll look like a genius. If it fails, everyone will be second guessing his management. That’s why Smith shouldn’t say those kinds of things, it’s nobody’s business how you prep the team except the guy that writes your check.

playmeortrademe

December 23rd, 2012
5:52 pm

Thinks the Falcons broke the Giants will last week. They are getting whipped by Baltimore 24-7, and the refs took 4 points away from the Ravens.

Priceless

December 23rd, 2012
6:02 pm

0-4 . The reality of games that mean something start soon and so does the Failcons ability to blow another playoff game and watch helplessly from their sofas !

icndark

December 23rd, 2012
6:22 pm

I think that THIS falcons team is far more seasoned, and well coordinated on both sides of the ball than those of recent playoff years. This team is determined to write their own story, and achieve what they have set their sights on. I think that their character has been formed through tough hard-fought games, hi-pressure come from behind victories, and one very embarrassing road loss. This group now know what needs to be done and how to get it done. As they keep saying, they just need to finish the job.
They have certainly put themselves in the best possible position to succeed. This version of the Falcons will not be defined by the past and will not sway from the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl. The doubters and naysayers will have their opinions and will no doubt express them while this team just keeps winning and proving them to be the biased hacks they are.

and bench Turner!

Go Falcons!

icndark

December 23rd, 2012
6:37 pm

Great! Another “haven’t one a playoff game in three tries so they can’t win this year” opinion. So trite and simplistic. I so look forward to this team serving notice to the football world that the proverbial corner has been turned and the Falcons will be a long-term franchise success. Every team with a Lombardi had to break through the same wall and emerge victorious to claim their title. This Falcons team is on the right track to do just that, and I don’t think they fear any team playing. They will be ready when the time comes to defend the dome.

Go Falcons!

Buzzman

December 23rd, 2012
6:41 pm

I would bet that Smith plays his starters only the first half if any. Matt might start the game, but look for him to go out after the 1st quarter, he knows he cannot afford to lose a quarterback this time of year. I wouldn’t blame him if he rested all of his starters.You never know he might find someone on the bench that is a superstar and just doesn’t know it.

Fair catch Franks

December 23rd, 2012
6:42 pm

Please start Snelling in the final game. If you want a run game give him a shot with the first team.

Falcoholic

December 23rd, 2012
6:43 pm

Do we really want to rest starters for 20 days? We tend to play a little rusty the first game back after long rests and bye weeks.

Falcoholic

December 23rd, 2012
6:44 pm

Yes, it’s a meaningless game and don’t want to risk injury, but….

icndark

December 23rd, 2012
6:56 pm

Smith will likely hope for a dominant first half performance from the starters and bring them out for the second half initial drive. I would agree with this approach because I’ve seen too much rest be detrimental to performance far more often than the opposite approach. Teams that are hot, are teams that are playing, not resting starters. The NFL seems to be trending that way lately and I don’t think that bye weeks are all they’re cracked up to be. The best way to maintain your intensity is to play, and do so at a high level. Just my opinion…

Go Falcons!

Falcoholic

December 23rd, 2012
7:02 pm

Yep,agreed. There’s a good article on the bleacher report about this very topic. Unfortunately, comments won’t let me link URL. Packers rested their starters week 17 last year and we all saw what happened. Belichik on the other hand plays all starters until the final drive.

icndark

December 23rd, 2012
7:07 pm

A good approach could also be to work it like it was two short weeks with a scrimmage (off/def) in between to serve as a simulated game. I know Smitty has been saving at least one of those padded practice sessions for some good reason.

Priceless

December 23rd, 2012
7:14 pm

Aints are officially eliminated. They are 1 and done. Likely the Falcons will be the home team in the smelly Superdome and there will be a Falcon banner on the field covering up their dope lief banner. Now who owns this division?

icndark

December 23rd, 2012
7:18 pm

The Falcons Own the NFC South!

Sweet scenario brewing if we keep our heads on straight we could be celebrating in the big sleazy and painting the cesspool red and black! Oh irony, thou art so cruel…..lol

Falcoholic

December 23rd, 2012
7:24 pm

Falcons all the way!

Never First, Just the Best.

December 23rd, 2012
7:36 pm

This time next year ESPN will be saying. ” Well the 15-0 Falcons have only won two playoff games and one Super Bowl. I just don’t belive they are the best team in football.

dirtybirdswag

December 23rd, 2012
7:44 pm

Love the fact that Mike Smith have learned from his past experiences and not being a stubborn idiot like that fat guy coaching the Jets

jlew

December 23rd, 2012
7:52 pm

The problem is there are not full 2nd or 3rd teams like college. You have 2 backup offensive lineman for all 5 positions, so some players will have to play. I would at least sit my best players, Ryan, White, Jones, Abraham, Spoon, Samuel, Gonzalez, Moore(again), maybe Decoud.

jlew

December 23rd, 2012
8:00 pm

I’m sure all the subs that play will “play to win”. And the good thing is that they have a good shot at the Bucs the way they’re playing.

Kenneth Jackson

December 23rd, 2012
8:09 pm

I’m really enjoying this season of course and would love nothing more than a Super Bowl ring, but truth be told post season failure doesn’t diminish what the Falcons have accomplished these last 5 years. I get 4 months each year pulling for a good football team. Been a fan for 36 years and remember how bad we were for 30 of them. I’d prefer a winning season every year w/o post season success then the up and down crap most teams experience.

Bruce Raglin in HI.

December 23rd, 2012
8:19 pm

after embarrassing-the giants and beating the lions i think its time to give the falcons their due respect they are a great team and are fully capable of wining it all.the new coordinators have surpassed all expectations GO FALCONS

RB

December 23rd, 2012
9:05 pm

WHATEVER SMITTY DECIDES, JUST WIN BABY !!!!!!!!!!!

Ekim56

December 23rd, 2012
9:27 pm

How sad, these pathetic people who can’t enjoy the regular season because of playoff failures.

Fan since 66

December 23rd, 2012
9:51 pm

@ Kenneth…I’m right with you on that. People don’t seem to remember the debacle that was called the “Smith ownership”! We were ecstatic over getting in the playoffs at all. Heck, if we had a winning season we were giddy! How soon we forget! Having said that, however, we want more. I just wish fans would not be so dad-gummed negative. We are 13-2 for pete’s sake. Let’s get behind the team and be positive. I sense a different sort of chemistry with this team and just feel that a Jan. 20th visit to NO is in the cards for our Birds.
Go Falcons!

Fan since 66

December 23rd, 2012
10:05 pm

Watching the Seahawks blow it up on the 49ers in the 1st half. Gonna be an interesting week next week and the wild card week of the playoffs. Makes my head explode trying to figure out who the “Birds may be playing. I’m taking comfort in the fact that the game will be in Atl. regardless who we play.
Go Falcons!

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2012
10:06 pm

It don’t matter who the hell the Falcons have to play. Just bring em in the Dome and lets get it on and the best Team comes out on top!

okeetee

December 23rd, 2012
10:08 pm

Look! We’ve got a great thing going right now…..and CANNOT afford to lose any starters or even key subs from either offense or defense! I wouldn’t play Ryan or any of our receivers nor any of our defensive backs for sure! They are the strength of this team! This game means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Stay healthy, hope we get N.Y. Wash. or Dallas,….and then hope someone knocks off Green Bay before we get them in the dome again for the championship game and the right to go to the Super Bowl! Remember, one missed block or slip up and Ryan gets hurt….we are TOAST!

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2012
10:15 pm

lmao…………….The only Team that will beat Atlanta will have to be the Falcons slipping up and beating theirself……………………………

Son Of Bart

December 23rd, 2012
10:17 pm

I definitely think Koetter and Nolan will make a huge difference this year! That was a controlled and attacking defense and a “go for it” offense against the Lions. If that is who and what you are, that combo will beat pretty much anyone. Get conservative on either side of the ball those odds flip against you to whichever team you might be playing. Hope Smith has learned this and will roll the dice against each and every opponent. Play to win! Smitty too often in the past has played not to lose. Make fools of the media. Take their disrespect personally as a player. These NFL teams play at most 18 hours of football a year. Seventy-two 15 minute quarters out of 365 days of the entire year! Earn your money. Go Falcons.

Michael M.

December 23rd, 2012
10:23 pm

What happen to the Giants…………..hehehehe, they must still feel that butt whooping they got last week at the hands of the falcons……………………..

DR. FALCON

December 23rd, 2012
11:04 pm

I AGREE WITH SMITTY! IT’S 16 GAMES, NOT 15! KEEP OUR “EDGE”! JUST PLAY FOOTBALL! NO TIME TO “DIAL” IT DOWN! GO FALCONS!

wayne

December 23rd, 2012
11:31 pm

The only thing that will slow the falcons down is the like of a running game, unfortunately Michael Turner has lost a step. If a hole is there he can’t get to it before it closes. I watch all the better backs in the league run with a lot more authority and aggressiveness, this position must be upgraded. Rodgers is a decent third down/change of pace back, but doesn’t appear to have the size to run between the tackles consistently. If the the running game isn’t improved, Matt Ryan will not be able to have the time to throw the ball with the other teams blitzing on every down. I know the coaching staff is aware of this and are trying to compensate, I hope they are successful, our playoff hopes hinge on it. GO FALCONS and GOOD LUCK!!!!

Gritsfalcon

December 24th, 2012
2:49 am

This team has several additional ingredients that exceeds the 2010 debacle versus G. Bay. But the biggest thing is Dick Nolan as Def. Coordinator! (Whoops! I meant Mike Nolan–Dick Nolan was his dad who coached the Forty-niners back in the 70’s, when Steve Spurrier was on the team as back up QB to John Brodie.) First playoff test will likely be Seattle if I am reading the cards right.

Cpt Kirk in Arkansas

December 24th, 2012
4:49 am

It could be Seattle or Green Bay.. After the debacle in 2010 vs GB, Id rather play anyone than that team.. . Every team has one flawed aspect and thats eventually uncovered at crunch time. Last week the 49ers were briefly touted as the best after beating Brady & Co in Foxboro.. Last night they couldnt find thier ass with a roadmapo and both hands vs the Seahawks so Im waiting for the national media to anoint Seattle as this yrs “hot team” trending worldwide or whatever.. The Falcons havent had to play a QB like Seattles, cept for RG III and spoon knocked him senseless. Wed better dial up a pass rush sometimes its there, sometimes not..We didnt have one against Stafford and he beat himself..Aaaron Rodgers or Kapernick wont do that so wed better have the best Defense weve had all season because now it IS CRUNCH time

MARK MY WORDS

Samuel

December 24th, 2012
7:28 am

I don’t have a problem, if the Falcons Start their key palyers and go out and blow the breaks off a down trotted five game losing streak Tampa Bay Bucs team.

War Dawg

December 24th, 2012
7:41 am

Dose anyone else worry about Peter Knoz also? He is weak and can not hold the point of attack in run or pass blocking.