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05 November 2014

Week 10 Conference Call Transcripts: vs. Atlanta (11/9/14)

HEAD COACH MIKE SMITH
 
(On the team’s defensive performance this season)
“We have not played very good defense. I think we’ve showed some improvement in some areas, but we’re still lacking in a number of other areas. We’ve got to fight to get to third down and when we get people in third down, we’ve got to get off the field. Unfortunately, our third down efficiency is not where it needs to be. The other thing has happened is we’ve given up some plays on third down, some of them in very winnable situations and those are the things that we’ve got to do a better job of making sure guys understand what we need to be doing in those situations.”
 
(On if he expects Tampa Bay to play better than they did in the teams’ first matchup)
“It’s a division game and the positives that you have to look at for the teams that are not leading the division, is that everybody is still in it. I don’t think that the game that was played in the Georgia Dome in Week 3 is really going to have any bearing – it’s two different football teams. There’s going to be different guys out there for the Tampa Bay Bucs and there’s going to be different players for the Atlanta Falcons. Pregame talks and things like that maybe have some bearing during the week, but when you can’t get off and start mixing it up, it’s the people that make the plays when they’re presented and they’re going to be the ones that will get the outcome that they want.”
 
(On competition in the NFC South)
“It’s competitive again, that will be my first thought. I think as a division, the defenses haven’t played as well. The numbers aren’t where they want to be for any team I think in the division. Again, I still think this is a division that has some very good quarterbacks and when you have good quarterback play, anything can happen on any given Sunday. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s even more so when you have a quarterback that can extend the football.”
 
(On facing Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Josh McCown)
“Josh is a guy that Lovie is very familiar with and had him in Chicago and brought him to Tampa and was the starter when the season started. He was hurt in our ballgame and I think he’s now healthy and from what I understand he’s going to be the guy we’re going to face again. He’s a very experienced quarterback and he runs better than you think, he’s super competitive and I think he’s very cerebral. He’ll get the ball out of his hands and get it to the right guys and I really think that the two wide receivers [Mike] Evans and [Vincent] Jackson create matchup issues for any team that they faced. I’ve been very impressed with Mike Evans over the last three or four games and his maturation. You can see he’s playing with a lot more confidence, he’s made some outstanding catches. I’ll say this about the Tampa Bay team and our team: if you watch on tape, these are two football teams that play hard. Lovie’s got his guys playing hard and I believe we’re playing hard, we’re just not playing consistent enough to get the outcomes that we want and I think you see that on both teams. I think it’s going to be a very competitive game on Sunday. We’re going to see, like I said, some different guys who didn’t play in the first game that are very good players. We know that Gerald McCoy, in my mind, is having a Pro Bowl season and we’re going to make sure we have a plan to slow him down because he can be very disruptive as a line of scrimmage player.”
 
(On the rookie wide receivers in the NFC South)
“I think there is an obvious effort in roster building to add receivers at the different teams that you mentioned. They’re halfway through there rookie season and they’re not rookies anymore, they’re closer to vets than they are rookies. I’ve been very impressed with the young guys. They are matching their draft status with their play on the field here in their first season.”
 
(On how much more physical Atlanta is this season compared to last season)
“We wanted to be a more physical football team and we wanted to be more efficient stopping the run and we really dug ourselves in a hole in the first three games in terms of statistically, but I do believe that we are getting better against the run. We’re in the top 12 in yards per carry and that’s what you’re looking at as one of your markers. You don’t necessarily look at the yardage because the game can change very quickly, but we’re not playing consistently enough really in any phase. All three phases has had their moments of ‘Uh oh, what the heck just happened?’ and when you do that and as competitive as this league is, you’re not going to get the outcome that we’re all fighting for. It’s all three phases that have contributed and we’ve all contributed to it, including coaching. We’ve gone through the bye and as you know when you go through the bye week, you look at numbers and the most important thing is you have to come up with solutions to the issues that you’re having as a team and that’s the thing that we spent – we’re not really delving into the numbers as much as ‘Ok, how are we going to fix this and that’s what coaching is all about.”
 
(On how difficult past two seasons have been)
“When you don’t win in the NFL, it’s not fun, it’s plain and simple. The currency of the NFL is wins and that’s how we’re judged and we work extremely hard – not just the coaches, but the players. We get 16 guaranteed opportunities to go out and show what we’re capable of doing and unfortunately we have not gotten the outcome in the first half of the season and this is a no-excuse business, that’s the thing that you like about it. You can say that there is no grey because you either win or you lose, you very rarely tie in the NFL now that we have tiebreakers.”
 
(On how hard it is to make plays at the end of games to win)
“It’s a fine line and I wished that when you’ve got it, you can put it in a jar and put the cap on it and make sure that you’ve got it and you can sprinkle it every time you go out there and play. The dynamic of the team and the dynamic of a game changes so quickly. You just watch, not only the Falcons games or the Bucs games, but if you watch any game in the NFL, you can see the dynamic changing very quickly. That’s what makes it, in my mind, the most popular game in all of sports, because you really don’t know what’s going to happen every time two teams go out and play because the dynamic changes from week to week. There are teams that three weeks ago thought they were locks to do this or do that and then they’re in completely different situations now. Your situation can change very quickly and I know what Lovie is trying to get done down there and it’s just the same thing that we’re trying to get done. We just have to get the next one and start a winning streak this week.”
 
WIDE RECEIVER JULIO JONES
 
(On this year’s rookie wide receiver class)
“I haven’t really been watching the rookie receivers this year. We have to focus on what we have here right now. We haven’t gotten off to the start we wanted here at the Falcons. So we’re just trying to make ourselves better.”
 
(On what worked for them so well the last time they played Tampa Bay this season)
“We’re were out there, we were in a rhythm, we were making plays when they presented themselves. Matt [Ryan] was throwing great balls, we had great protection, and guys were catching the ball when it was thrown to them.”
 
(On how head coach Mike Smith has kept the team together despite the slow start)
“He’s the head coach. He’s still trying to be positive toward us. We as players, we’ve got to go out there and take it to Sunday, because we have great weeks of practice and we get to the game and we’re not executing.”
 
(On if the slow start can simply be attributed to lack of execution)
“We’re just not executing out there, starting with myself. I’ve got to go out there and be more consistent. As long as everybody’s doing their job and being consistent, we’ll be able to turn this thing around.”
 
(On how he feels this year after coming off an injury last season)
“It’s been good. Of course, I had the ankle [injury] the last couple of weeks. But the bye week did me some justice. I feel great now. Other than that, I feel good just being back out there on the field with my teammates and just making plays and just continuing to just keep working with them.”
 
(On Tampa Bay’s defense)
“Oh man, they’re great. [Gerald] McCoy’s back up front – we’ve got to control him; he’s a game-changer type of player. He can make or break the game for us, so we’ve got to make sure we can contain him. Their secondary, they moved some stuff around. I see they traded Mark Barron and now they’re starting Major [Wright] out there at safety. Of course, their linebackers are good. We’ve just got to go out there and just take what they give us.”
 
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