Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with head coach Mike Smith

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons coach Mike Smith was upbeat today for his press conference.

(Thanks for letting me asked the first question!!!)

Smith opened with an extremely detailed explanation of Seattle’s offense and defense.

Here are the highlights:

Opening statement: “We had a good week of practice last week. Today we began our preparations for the Seattle Seahawks. Players were in this morning for meetings and weight training. They’ll have tomorrow off and we’ll start our preparation Wednesday for the Seattle Seahawks.”

On what Seattle does well on offense and defense: “They’re playing very good football right now. Over the past seven or eight weeks, they’re playing as well as any team in the League. Offensively, I think it starts with what their quarterback is doing. He does a very good job running their offense. You have to account for him as a running back, so you’re going to have to concern yourself with that. I think he tied QB Peyton Manning’s rookie touchdown record if I’m not mistaken with 26 touchdown passes, so he’s doing a nice job of throwing the ball as well. He’s playing very consistent football. They’re not turning the ball over. They’re taking it away. Marshawn Lynch, the running back, one of the top running backs in all of the NFL runs very hard, runs behind his pads. He’s an aggressive runner. They’ve got a good core of receivers. I think three very good

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, left, looks on as the special teams huddles during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, left, looks on as the special teams huddles during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

receivers. WR Sidney Rice is the guy that leads their team. WR Golden Tate is a very good receiver as well. A young receiver. Then their third receiver, Doug Baldwin can run. They’re very talented. Up front, they’ve got two Pro Bowlers, the left tackle and center. Defensively, they’ve got arguably, some people say the best corner duo in the League. They’re both very physical in Sherman and Browner. They’ve got very good size. Their safeties are very physical. S Kam Chancellor is a guy that can come down in the box, very aggressive. S Earl Thomas is a guy that can run. Up front, they’ve got two different defensive tackles. They play a very good rotation. They’ve got a big defensive end and then they’ve got two guys they rotate in in their pass downs that rush the passer very well. We’re not sure about DE Chris Clemons and the other one is DE Bruce Irvin. I think 20.5 sacks between the two of them this year, including the playoffs. That’s my run down on their roster.”

On how it will affect the Seahawks if Clemons can’t play: “It means Bruce Irvin will probably have to step into that role. Bruce is a guy that is very similar in stature to Clemons. He had eight sacks in the regular season. Had one yesterday in the ballgame. He’s the 12th pick in the draft if I’m not mistaken. A guy that can get up the field very similar to Chris (Clemons).”

On managing the pressure of the second season: “The biggest thing when you get the Bye, you’ve got to make sure you get the right work load and the management part of keeping the guys focused on what they really need to be focused on that week. That’s getting better as a football team. We spent all last week working on Falcons-on-Falcons. This morning at our meeting, it was the first time we’ve met where we had an opportunity to really talk about who we were going to be playing. Prior to that there were choices or three different teams that we could possible face.”

On looking at tape from when Pete Carroll coached in the League before he was with the Seahawks: “No. We’ve played Seattle the last two years, although their offense has morphed into something different this season with the new quarterback. We’ve watched the games that we’ve played last year and the previous year to see what they’re doing different and what they’re doing the same to see philosophically if there is a whole lot of changes. They’ve kind of really changed their offensive philosophy with the new quarterback, and he’s doing an outstanding job. Russell Wilson can extend plays. When he goes back to pass he’s a guy that can turn a five second play into 12 or 13 seconds. That can cause issues for guys that are in coverage.”

On sensing a tangible difference in this team than in previous years: “We’re a much more mature team because of our experiences. I think you learn from your previous experiences in the playoffs. This is a team that’s been very focused from the beginning of the season. We’ve got a lot of guys that have experienced the playoff atmosphere and they’re going to be able to help some of these younger guys that haven’t. We’ve added guys to our roster this year. CB Asante Samuel will be a very good resource for these guys. He’s had lots of success in the playoffs.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith look on in apparent dismay. (Curtis Compton/

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith look on in apparent dismay. (Curtis Compton/

On knowing when a team is ready to take the next step: “We feel very good about what we’ve accomplished thus far this year. We have expectations. We set our goals and we’ve been clicking along pretty well this season. I like the way that we’ve played through the first season. The second season is getting ready to start and I know that we respect everybody that’s in this tournament because they’ve fought very hard to get in it.”

On DE John Abraham’s status: “We’ll give our injury report on Wednesday. I was very transparent last week in terms of who practiced and who didn’t. John will be participating in practice on Wednesday. We will have almost a full boat. We won’t have everybody there.”

On how beneficial the extra week will be for S William Moore: “Our intention once the doctors determined the time frame of what we really needed to do to get William back 100 percent and get him back out there on the field and get some work as quickly as possible. He progressed well enough for us to get him out there on the field last week. There were a couple of guys that were in the same situation. As a coach, you want everybody out there for every practice, you’ve got to rely on the doctors and trainers on when they’re going to be released to go out on the field. The work load for some of these guys was limited last week. This week we’ll limit some early in the week, but hopefully we’ll have everybody ready to go by the end of the week.”

On sensing everybody in the community is excited about the playoffs: “It’s hard for to sense anything outside of this building. I

091712 ATLANTA: Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith pumps his fist after a defensive stop against the Boncos bringing up fourth down during second quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

091712 ATLANTA: Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith pumps his fist after a defensive stop against the Boncos bringing up fourth down during second quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

know our players are anxious and excited about the opportunity now that we know who we’re going to play. We’ve got to get down to game planning. We’ll present that fully to our team on Wednesday.”

On drawing one of the hottest teams in the League: “If you’re in the playoffs, you’ve got to be playing efficient and good football. I think all teams are. There’s a lot of noise about a lot of teams and not just the team we’re playing. I will say this, after watching them play yesterday coming back from a 14 point deficit and scoring 24 unanswered points. They’re playing very good football right now.”

On a lot of pressure being on the Falcons: “To me, it’s no different than any other game. It’s 100 percent on our football team to go out and play our best whether it’s a preseason game or a regular season game or whether it’s a postseason game. As I mentioned earlier, I think every team that’s playing in this tournament respects every other team. I don’t think there’s anybody not respecting the other teams. This is a very good football team. We feel like we’ve accomplished what we need to accomplish to get here. We are looking forward to playing Seattle this weekend.”

On being a benefit to have an extra day of game planning: “It definitely will benefit us. As a coaching staff, we got to spend time where if it was a normal sequencing of the week we would not have had an opportunity to spend time. We got an opportunity last night to jump on it again once the game ended. We’ve got all day today where we’re not concerning ourselves with putting a game to rest. Normally, after a game you’re putting that to rest in terms of grading it. We’re getting a jump, and I think that’s one of the advantages of being the number one or two seeds is it gives you an opportunity to get a little more preparation in, especially as a staff.”

On applying what he’s learned from previous postseason games: “Yes, we did. It was about the Bye week in terms of the way that we tried to work through the Bye week last time we’re doing a little different this time. We took a lot of time off when we were preparing to play the Green Bay Packers when we had the Bye week a couple years ago. We changed the days that we were going to work. We worked a little bit longer. One of the things that we had to do was get some work done between playing games. We needed to work on some things fundamentally that we didn’t do well at the end of the season. One of the things we focused on last week was tackling and path to the ball on defense. Then, fundamentals of blocking and controlling the line of scrimmage. Those were our areas. You’re not in pads so it’s difficult to do. You have to break it down into little pieces and that’s how we tried to approach it last week. Really, the volume of work is probably the biggest thing. Then, we also changed the way we were preparing as a coaching staff in terms of spending one day on each of the potential opponents. I think that we approached it much differently in trying to do it by situations and keeping a regular week. This time we were just going to work on one opponent a day.”

On working by situations: “We worked by situations, so we said ‘ok, we’re going to do all of our openers’ and then we did all three teams. Then, we’d turn and do third down and we’d do all three teams. That’s a look behind the curtain so to speak. We did change the way we as a coaching staff as well went through our preparation in the Bye week. If you do it the same when you didn’t get the result that you want that’s probably not the right way to approach it. We approached it differently this time.”

On whom Wilson is most alike: “When you watch him scramble around there he looks like QB Fran Tarkenton. He can extend some plays if you really want to go back and see. He’s got a really strong arm. He’s got an arm that can throw the ball 55 or 60 yards down the field. That’s the thing that impressed me. He’s very hard to get your hands on, especially when he’s running around on passing plays. He extends those plays and that causes a lot of issues for defenders, as I mentioned earlier. He’s in the mold of a number of quarterbacks that have come out. He doesn’t have the stature or the body size of a Cam Newton or he’s not even as big as Robert Griffin III, but he has the athleticism of those guys. He’s a very athletic guy. He’s very smooth and I think he’s very intelligent. He does a nice job of running their offense. He does a very nice job of running. He’ll get down. He won’t take a hit. I have not seen many people get big hits on him because he’s very astute at knowing when to get down.”

On QB Dominique Davis helping a lot in preparation on the practice field: “It is. In fact, Dominique has gotten a lot of work for us this season. We’ve played some running quarterbacks and Dominique will be the guy that will try and simulate him when we work starting on Wednesday.”

On Seattle’s big cornerbacks:

They’re very physical. They’re guys that can get up, they don’t always do it, but they can get up and create some physical play at the line of scrimmage. They’re two of the bigger corners in the League. They can run extremely well. I think Sherman is playing as well as any and Browner is a guy that we played against last year. We’re familiar with them. They are big, physical corners that can create some issues when they get up there and they are in physical mode where they’re playing close to the line of scrimmage.”

On who has the final say of whether a hurt player gets to play in a game: “Anytime there is an injury here we have a protocol. The doctors and trainers are the ones that are going to make the decision on who is going to play and who can play and who cannot play.”


Dirk Koetter to stay with the Falcons

Smith to ramp up bye-week practices

Smith expects Abraham, Robinson to be ready for playoff game

Falcons’ run defense to be tested in divisional playoff game

Falcons to open playoffs at 1 p.m., Sunday Jan. 13th


Finishing regular season ‘the right way’

Ryan, Gonzalez, Jones voted to Pro Bowl

Matt Ryan named NFC offensive player of week

Matt Ryan Q-and-A

Safety William Moore to miss fourth straight game

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22 comments Add your comment

Elvis is Alive

January 7th, 2013
6:25 pm

Can't Wait (Bart Scott Voice)

January 7th, 2013
6:30 pm

Tickets in hand! Ready for Sunday!

LOL at The Aints

January 7th, 2013
6:40 pm

Elvis is Alive

January 7th, 2013
6:55 pm

I believe the one dangerous aspect of the SEA-CHICKS is the running backs ability to plant a foot and reverse his direction.
We have a very aggresive DL and we have to be focused and vocal about cutbacks and the QB faking the pass and running for yardage.
We have a different team and apparently a different mindset toward preparation going into the game.
We all worry about MT33. If he has a few days off, you just don’t know if he will be a baller?
I want to see us smash them in the mouth and put a “Hobnail Boot” in their rump.
Falcons you have proven you can WIN.
To WIN this game is vital for the entire Falcon family!
“It’s Now or Next Year” Falcons..
Thank you in advance for the BIrthday Wishes!!
Rise Up..Angry Birds..Rise UP

Elvis has left the building…

NFC South Champs

January 7th, 2013
8:05 pm

Slam the Seahawks.

The 12th Man

January 7th, 2013
9:00 pm

Good Luck Falcons, you will need it!

[...] LATEST NEWS Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with head coach Mike Smith [...]


January 7th, 2013
10:20 pm

Birds sound more focused and better prepared than the previous two playoff experiences. Lay it all out on the line boys. Putting pressure on Wilson is going to be key, I hope Nolan gets aggressive with some blitz packages, as Wilson isn’t as effective against the blitz. Then play that big 3 that we played some earlier in the year on the DL to try and contain Lynch.

We do that, and our offense does its thing, the game is ours.

Go Falcons!


January 7th, 2013
10:21 pm

Guys, we really need to relax. The emotions will be high enough come Sunday! This is what the playoffs are all about! It is not necessarily the best team that prevail but those who have that “situational awareness” when it matters the most! Seattle is dangerous, ferocious, unimpressed, & unintimidated! We have that same tenacity & will not be shy about things come Sunday!!! Go Falcons!

[...] LATEST NEWS Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with head coach Mike Smith [...]

I usually just read but...

January 8th, 2013
8:05 am

With pot legal in Washington, can they burn em a couple bootlegs before the game without violating nfl substance abuse policy?

[...] Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with head coach Mike Smith [...]

[...] Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with head coach Mike Smith [...]

Ledbetter blocked me

January 8th, 2013
8:09 pm

I’ve got two tickets to paradise.

[...] the bye week, the Falcons worked on tackling and path to the ball. They didn’t do any work in pads, though, which is how it goes in the NFL [...]


January 9th, 2013
2:44 pm


Ban KKiller

January 9th, 2013
7:02 pm

Seahawks 42 Falcons 13. Seattle scores early on Lynch touchdown. Followed by three more touchdowns before the half….another one by Lynch. Seattle running game too much for Falcons.

[...] Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with head coach Mike Smith [...]

[...] Atlanta Falcons: Q&A with head coach Mike Smith [...]

Big Russell

January 10th, 2013
6:17 pm

Q&A with head coach Mike Smith post game:
On applying what he’s learned from previous postseason games: “I guess we’ll have to try something different next year to try to get by the first game”


January 11th, 2013
10:25 am

Elvis your a idiot there d line will get ate uo and the only boot up the toot will be the hawks running over the dead birds CHOKERS!!! Lol matty ice willl choke again


January 11th, 2013
10:29 am

you have played two playoff teams this year !!!! you have no clue what is about to roll into town !!!!and destroy you before moving on!!!! You will all see !!! GO HAWKS