Atlanta Falcons: Smith to ramp up bye-week practices




By Michael Cunningham

FLOWERY BRANCH–Phase one of coach Mike Smith’s plan to keep the Falcons rolling into the playoffs backfired badly.

The Falcons still can get the next part right.

The idea was that the Falcons would go all out to win against the Buccaneers on Sunday even though they already had the NFC’s No. 1 seed wrapped up. So the Falcons played their starters from start to finish and still suffered a 22-17 loss to NFC also-ran Tampa Bay in the Georgia Dome.

Instead of being buoyed by victory, the Falcons were cut down by a bad loss. Rather than maintain momentum, the Falcons saw it halted—and they couldn’t shrug it off to sending out their backups.

The Falcons won’t be able to do anything about it until opening the playoffs on Sunday, Jan. 13 against either Minnesota, Seattle or Washington at 1 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. But Smith has a plan to keep his players and coaches sharp until then.

The Falcons had a bye week in the 2010 playoffs before the Packers pounded them 48-21 on their way to the Super Bowl title. Smith said the lessons learned from the bye-week preparation that season prompted him to come up with a new plan this time.

“We are not going to do anything like we did last time,” Smith said.

The Falcons will practice more frequently — holding four practices — this week. They also will spend less time in practice emulating the schemes run by their potential playoff foes and do more “Falcons on Falcons” work.

The idea is that the different schedule and practice strategies will keep the Falcons primed when they have neither an opponent on which to focus nor a game to get ready for next weekend. Falcons players from the 2010 team said they relaxed back then.

“We probably thought back then like we arrived,” Falcons running back Michael Turner said. “We thought we were better than we were. We didn’t approach the week like we should have, looking back on it. Hopefully we learn from that mistake and will be ready to roll.”

It starts with more work days this time around.

After the Falcons defeated the Panthers in the final regular-season game of 2010, players didn’t have to report to Flowery Branch for practice until Thursday, four days after the game. They then then had the next weekend off.

“The work load is going to be different in terms of the number of days that we work and when we work,” Smith said on Monday. “We did not spend a whole lot of time on the field during our bye week (in 2010). We used it to rest. This year we’re going to spend more time out on the field. We’ll be out on the field four days this week. They won’t be long practices, but we’ll be out on the field.”

With the bye week after the sixth game, breaks after Thursday and Saturday games, Smith believes the team is well rested. With the extra work, Smith plans to sharpen up on the fundamentals of blocking and tackling, which he found lacking in the loss to Tampa Bay.

The Falcons will face the lowest seed to advance from the wild card run. They could see Minnesota if they upset Green Bay. If Green Bay wins, they’d face the winner of the Seattle at Washington game.

The coaches will start preparing for all three teams this week.

Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who wasn’t with the team in 2010, said it will be “weird” to practice without knowing the next opponent.

“I’ve never been in that situation before and I don’t care for it,” he said. “I like to focus on one team. It’s hard when you have as many as four teams you are preparing for. The flip side is there’s no pressure. I look at it as it’s bonus work.”

Ultimately it’s going to be up to the players to make sure they stay ready. The Falcons have said all season they are a different squad after recent playoff failures and this is another way to prove it.

“We just got kind of lax in that week off [in the 2010 playoffs],” Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud said. “We lost a little bit of our momentum in 2010. It’s something that we’ve learned from. Now we just have to be mature enough to do what you have to do in that week off to make sure you can be at 100 percent that following week.”

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101 comments Add your comment

Ernest

January 1st, 2013
6:52 am

I predict the Falcons will play Seattle on Sunday. Playing a team with a rookie quarterback in our dome should work to our advantage.

Go Falcons!!!

okeetee

January 1st, 2013
7:00 am

Whatever his plan is…..it all boils down to making sure both our offense and defensive players know where they are suppose to be and where they are suppose to go when the ball is snapped come Jan. 13th. at 1 pm!!! With two weeks to prepare there will be NO excuse for being out of position on defense and not knowing the play called on offense! If we play “smart” football, keep our turnovers to a minimum, and execute like we are capable of doing, we should move on to the next week!

Fair catch Franks

January 1st, 2013
7:06 am

You heard it here first Michael Turner will be unstoppable in the playoffs. Bank on it.

Me Too

January 1st, 2013
7:19 am

The idea was that the Falcons would go all out to win against the Buccaneers on Sunday…….

Who said this? Mike Smith doesn’t understand what “all out” means!!! Fair catch Franks what have you been smoking?

Only HC Smith and RB Turner stand in the way of victory. HC Smith please bench Turner and let the OC and DC run things. HC Smith take a vacation yourself until game day. Don’t meddle in the game plan. You are the reason the team plays at the level it does. It’s called MARTYBALL.

Samuel

January 1st, 2013
7:43 am

I don’t care who they play, there’s no preference for me. What I want to see is a team that will play with confidence and a coaching staff that leaves no stone unturned. Also you must play well on the big stage. The Fans want no excuses no explanation!!

Elvis is Alive

January 1st, 2013
7:53 am

“We’re going back to blocking and tackling”!
“We thought we had arrived”!
“Difficult to focus on 3-4 teams”! (Unless they are offering you a job..right…Dirk!)
Albert Einstein once said,”if you choose to repeat the same actions time and time again and expect a different outcome, then you have the definition of insanity”(pp)
The fundamentals of football are simple. Kick-Tackle-Run-Pass-Block-Overt Celebratory Victory dance for any good play for the photographers?
Which one is not part of the fundamentals?
Our problems started in training camp with the “live by the run” phiilosophy.
We expected MT33 to barrel through the line like years past. Nope!
We expected our O-line to fend off the opposing defense.
We stood pat when it was obvious that we needed additonal help for both.
We have made it to the No. 1 seed for the playoffs and are NOT considered even close to winning it all.
Dare to say this is the best team the Falcons have put on the field in years (I go back to the Tommy Nobis years) so I can make this comment from experience.
The team coming to the Dome will look at our playbook and see we have trouble with the run.
Ok, so cover the receivers and rush MR2 with zeal.
And wait for our team to make a critical MENTAL mistake.
Or be called for an Overt Celebratory Victory dance!
My suggestions!
Play 3 running backs,screen/flanker/slot passes off the bootleg, and find out who is “telling” the opponent we are going to run.
Pay closer attention to the middle of the field on defense.
Focus on what can we do differently to win the next ballgame.
Strict discipline. No bars or stripclubs. Test for alcohol if necessary!
The “Fat Lady” is getting ready to sing!
I hope it’s not the “Insanity” song!
Rise Up..Angry Birds..Rise Up!!!

Larry

January 1st, 2013
7:54 am

The Falcons will defeat whomever they play in two weeks This team will be focused, prepared and hungry. The Dome will be crazy lowd!

What say you?

take it from me.

January 1st, 2013
9:55 am

The falcons will go the way of Matt Ryan,if he gets rushed,and gets happy feet it will be a long afternoon for the Falcons,the OL has to come to play,and keep Ryan upright.Ryan needs to be able to read defences before he lanch’es pass’es,and keep turnovers down.he needs to play with comfidence.M Turner needs to step up ,and keep the prussure of Ryan and the Offince.the falcons defence needs all thier players back from injurries,Abreham,Moore,Robinson,After all they are the hitters on this team.

Joey

January 1st, 2013
9:55 am

Larry, it was pretty lowd Sunday.

For a while.

Funny that Smith’s “plan” was to “go all out” to beat the Bucs, but he had the offensive play-calling about as vanilla as Ryan’s rookie season.

All-out my ass . . .

BIG PERRY

January 1st, 2013
10:09 am

This is a question for all falcons fans can the falcons go 3-0 in the playoff ? if so they will be worid champions i say they must be able to run the ball and they must be able to tackle well it up to them; They must be foucs in all three game if they want to make it. blocking,tackleing and running the ball basic fundemental sound easy only way to make it easy they must stay foucs.So i all can the falcons make it to 3 games and win? this is the question i want the falcons fans to look at make a sgin of it in the GEORGIA DOME,LET THIS BE THE SAYING JUST WIN 3!!!!!

BIG PERRY

January 1st, 2013
10:24 am

START jq roger#32 he give you 5 yard a carry what idiot can’t see that.That way mtuner#33 will run the ball better 1.3yard a carry what the hell is that he done lose two step matt ryan pick up more yard.

Esquire

January 1st, 2013
10:52 am

“Instead of being buoyed by victory, the Falcons were cut down by a bad loss. Rather than maintain momentum, the Falcons saw it halted—and they couldn’t shrug it off to sending out their backups”

***********************************************************
Stupid comment of the day award goes to Michael Cunningham.

I can see you typing this thinking to yourself……………”oh man ….can I put some spin on this thing or what……..” Don’t waste your time with me dude.

Whadda Ya Know?

January 1st, 2013
11:03 am

La, la, la, la, la…more talk about nothing from these players. Obviously they still haven’t learned how to be professionals and take care of business week in and week out. You cannot take ANY opponent lightly. This up and down play of the team doesn’t give me a lot of confidence heading into the playoffs. They don’t seem hungry enough yet. Otherwise, they’d be trying to beat every team down regardless of the team’s record. Smitty is just too much of a nice guy. He needs to start benching some of these starters for their half-azz play in these games. Maybe that would wake some of them up.

Whadda Ya Know?

January 1st, 2013
11:04 am

I forgot…Happy New Year everyone!!! May you have a blessed and prosperous year.

Whadda Ya Know?

January 1st, 2013
11:17 am

Another thing, Koetter’s comments doesn’t sit well with me.

Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who wasn’t with the team in 2010, said it will be “weird” to practice without knowing the next opponent. No $hit genius. How about you study the film and come up with a plan on how to attack each of the possible opponents weaknesses?

“I’ve never been in that situation before and I don’t care for it,” he said. “I like to focus on one team. It’s hard when you have as many as four teams you are preparing for. The flip side is there’s no pressure. I look at it as it’s bonus work.” This sounds like a little school boy whining about not having everything perfectly laid out for him. That’s life. Deal with it and come up with something teams have not seen all year long and attack the jack ish out of them all game.

uoynossip

January 1st, 2013
11:25 am

Whadda Ya Know? I agree that what he said was kind of weird. I mean they are the #1 seed in the NFC and they should be talking confidently like they will kick the snot out of anyone that comes to the dome, instead they are talking like they don’t know what the hell they are going to do.

DareToBelieveSince1966

January 1st, 2013
11:38 am

In the last Bucs game, what if the vanilla game plan, the poor tackling, the overrun o-line & the uninspired offense were a planned sting to set up our first playoff opponent (likely Seattle) into expecting an Atlanta collapse? What if the REAL Falcons show up for that Divisional Round playoff game… and they crush the opponent, even if it’s Green Bay? Show us you still have that fire, boys! We are with you!

Whadda Ya Know?

January 1st, 2013
11:38 am

Uoynossip: “…they should be talking confidently like they will kick the snot out of anyone that comes to the dome, instead they are talking like they don’t know what the hell they are going to do.”

Exactly!

E43

January 1st, 2013
11:45 am

“Phase one of coach Mike Smith’s plan to keep the Falcons rolling into the playoffs backfired badly.”

I thought they were playing to win. Was I misLED?

Fred Garvin

January 1st, 2013
11:52 am

I didnt like Dirk saying “there’s no pressure”,, I beg to differ.

Eric C.

January 1st, 2013
12:16 pm

We’re doomed

Eric C.

January 1st, 2013
12:18 pm

Who ARE the “real” Falcons????

DareToBelieveSince1966

January 1st, 2013
12:22 pm

EricC: WE aren’t doomed… but the FALCONS are, if they play another game that’s dedicated to the “3 and out”. It WILL hurt US, the loyal fans, if they don’t show up to compete. It’s all in their heads (attitude).

DareToBelieveSince1966

January 1st, 2013
12:24 pm

EricC: the REAL Falcons, in that context, are the dazzling displayers of magnificent skill and determination that REAL Falcon fans ache to cheer on.

Eric C.

January 1st, 2013
12:30 pm

That dark cloud that has been looming on the horizon is just about upon us now…time to take shelter

Mr. Mustard

January 1st, 2013
1:23 pm

Felt like we had arrived?

I guess the Falcons’ franchise doesn’t know that they have never won a Superbowl.

Until then, they have not arrived anywhere at anytime.

One would think, every man on that squad is hunkering down, at the table, in the weight rooms, and on the field every moment possible, to make a run and win the SB.

One would think.

Well, here it is again and I ask, which Falcons will show up?

The brilliantly disciplined and versatile team that hustles and out thinks and out hustles it opponents, or the team that seems to be star struck and unsure of themselves, then down by 14, suddenly kicks it into gear to lose by four points?

If they stumble and frankly, act stupid this time I say the story of Mike Smith will be written, in stone.

With that said, I sooooo want them to win and finally get over the hump.

The Atlanta fans deserve it like few other fans.

Esquire

January 1st, 2013
1:49 pm

Eric C.
January 1st, 2013
12:16 pm

We’re doomed

*********************************************

Lol………………….troll fail.

National Media

January 1st, 2013
1:50 pm

Remember when you guys were complaining about the Falcons not getting national media respect? Well the pressure for Ryan to win in the playoffs just ramped way up. He will have lots of pressure to perform. Another early exit and boy will the spotlight be bigger than Vegas.

Esquire

January 1st, 2013
1:51 pm

E43
January 1st, 2013
11:45 am

“Phase one of coach Mike Smith’s plan to keep the Falcons rolling into the playoffs backfired badly.”

I thought they were playing to win. Was I misLED?

*************************************************
Funny how the writers know so much less than they think they know.

OPEN YOUR EYES

January 1st, 2013
1:56 pm

THE ATLANTA FAILCAN’TS WILL LOSE IN THE DIVISIONAL ROUND I CAN FEEL IT!! MATTY MELTDOWN WILL COUNTINUE TO THROW PICKS AND MIKE VANILLA SMITH WILL COUNTINE TO FALTER UNDER PLAYOFF PRESSURE!!!

Question...............

January 1st, 2013
1:56 pm

Didn’t the Falcons just lose at home to a 6-9 team on a 5 game losing streak?

OPEN YOUR EYES

January 1st, 2013
2:04 pm

AND YES GUYS AND GALS THE OPEN TROLL IS BACH AND READY TO MAKE YOU GUYS LIFE MISERABLE!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! (EVIL LAUGH FOR ALL YOU SLOW FANS OUT THERE)

Starship 1

January 1st, 2013
2:42 pm

It’s all on the offensive line and getting 1st downs and no turnovers: Defensively-limit the run. If the Falcons O-line wins the battle on January 13th-it’s a win. K-I-S-S

yellowfever

January 1st, 2013
3:04 pm

Seattle 27- Atlanta 13. Matty Ice throws for 290 yards going 27 for 42 but no completion over 18 yards. Nothing but dump off passes because he want have time to wipe his butt.

DareToBelieveSince1966

January 1st, 2013
3:33 pm

I’m amazed that the trolls that lurk here have nothing better to do than show their classless back sides. Do u trolls have a team in the hunt (playoffs, 4 those of u still in 3rd grade)? Not likely, but if u do, let it be known. U hide with anonymity and don’t declare ur own loyalties. C’mon, and come out…

Brown Bags

January 1st, 2013
3:43 pm

I’m a Falcons fan. Don’t tell anybody.

DareToBelieveSince1966

January 1st, 2013
3:47 pm

Brown: get outta the bag, man. That’s for the Aints.

Whadda Ya Know?

January 1st, 2013
3:54 pm

DareToBelieveSince1966 these trolls just HATE the fact that the Falcons are in position to win the Superbowl while their teams will be watching from their sofa. Only a child would waste his/her time going to an opponent’s blog and spewing the garbage they do.

FalconPride66

January 1st, 2013
4:46 pm

I am GLAD it will be Falcons on Falcons at practice! They need to work on the basics … AGAIN! Run blocking, tackling, rushing the QB. I hope their practices are tough and boring. I want them hungry on the 13th. GO FALCONS

DareToBelieveSince1966

January 1st, 2013
4:47 pm

Whadda: I think u nailed it… they are CHILDREN… whose parents are doing a lousy job keeping tabs on them. Pathetic.

Big O

January 1st, 2013
5:02 pm

We are confused about what coach Smith meant by, “all out”, but the players understand clearly. Why do I think this way? I didn’t see the game but I’m guessing the offense ran nothing but nominal plays not showing potential adversaries any new information. Staying within the boundaries of their “tendencies” established on tape the whole year. “Tendency” means that in a given situation the Falcons are likely to run a certain type of play. The same goes for their defensive play. I don’t think they blitzed much; and, stayed within their defensive tendencies. I suspect the defense didn’t put much effort into putting on game tape new ways of disguising their defensive alignments.

So coach Smith intended to go “all out” to win under certain restrictions not advertised to the press.
I think he played the starters to keep them loose. But he wasn’t surprised the Falcons lost by a few points. Nor did I see a worried look on his face at his post-game press conf. The players know what he did and why they lost; and, so do the coaches of opposing teams. Football is a “cat and mouse” game; and, coach Smith is smarter than us blog experts.

1st Round Opponent

January 1st, 2013
5:06 pm

Thanks Falcons for extending our playoffs.

goFalcons

January 1st, 2013
5:06 pm

It is time to put all that BS talk about not winning a playoff game to bed. I don’t care who the Falcons play. The Falcons are going to come out and destroy them

UGA ECONOMICS MAJOR

January 1st, 2013
5:17 pm

THIS IS ATLANTA,S TIME..THIS IS AS CLOSE TO A CHAMPIONSHIP ATLANTA HAS HAD SINCE 1995…COME ON ATLANTA FALCONS REALLY RISE UP. GEORGIA DOME GET LOUD IGNORANT AND CRAZY LOUD..WAVE RED TOWWELS OR WHITE TOWELS MAKE IT UNBEARABLE TO WHOEVER COMES TO THE GEORGIA DOME….AND LETS DO SOME CELEBRATING ON THE NEW ORLEAN AINTS HOME CAVE CALLED THE UGLY 45 YEAR OLD SUPERLESS DOME!!!

Don't be delusional

January 1st, 2013
5:26 pm

UGA

Actually 1998 (Superbowl), 2002 (Defeated Favre), and 2004 (Championship Game) was the closest to the superbowl championship. 2008, 2010 & 2011 were 1 and done.

UGA ECONOMICS MAJOR

January 1st, 2013
5:44 pm

THANKS …DONT BE DELUSIONAL…THANKS FOR THE CORRECTION…

Fred Garvin

January 1st, 2013
5:45 pm

You’re delusional if you think anything that happened 7 years ago has any bearing on this years team.

OPEN YOUR EYES

January 1st, 2013
6:18 pm

IF MIKE VANILLA SMITH CONTINUES TO HOLD THIS OFFENSE BACK BY RUNNING MICHEAL TURNER EVERY 1ST AND 2ND DOWN THE FAILCAN’TS WILL FIND THEMSELVES IN A POOL OF THE OWN BLOOD!!!!

jimb

January 1st, 2013
6:40 pm

Thomas DeCoud always has something to say, but does he have any arms? If so, why doesn’t he use them to tackle?

Josh

January 1st, 2013
7:07 pm

For all you fellow Falcons fans who are going to be at the GA Dome for the divisional round…BE LOUD!!!!! we will win if the dome is rocking. do whatever it takes to make as much noise as possible!!!! We need to do our part as fans! I can’t stress the importance of making noise at the Dome.

Help spread the word! #RiseUp #It’sTime