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16 September 2014

Week 3 Conference Call Transcripts: at Atlanta (9/18/14)

HEAD COACH MIKE SMITH
 
(On what he learned about quarterback Matt Ryan last year during his first losing season in Atlanta)
“That he’s a very resilient player. I think that Matt showed his leadership skills in some very difficult situations. Sometimes you’re dealt hands that you have no control over and you’ve got to go out there and continue to play and continue to lead, and I thought he showed his resiliency to bounce back, and I think he had an outstanding offseason this offseason in terms of identifying what he wanted to work on and he’s gotten bigger and better.”
 
(On why the team has had so much success in home games, offensively speaking)
“I think that our fans are very educated and they help us on the offensive side by allowing us to communicate. And I think we have a good psyche about playing in our own building, and I think everyone does in this league; I think that that psyche is brought on by familiarity, in terms of what we do – we do it all the time. It’s not a one off in terms of traveling. And then I think, I’ve already mentioned, our fans are outstanding. But we know that in this league, the formula for playing in the second season is that definitely the first step is taking care of business at home because it is a very different atmosphere when you go on the road.”
 
(On if the league’s limits on practices could possibly result in more injuries early in the season)
“I think that we’ll have a better feel for that when we get more data. I wouldn’t want to jump out and say that and have the data be different. I do feel like the guys have gotten a better feel for the offseason, even though we’re not allowed to work with them. I think more and more are coming back earlier in the buildings to start working in our weight room. In terms of the padded practices, we’ve never used the allotted number. For example, when you play a Thursday night game – and everybody’s going to play a Thursday night game – there’s no way that you’re going to put your team in pads. And every team is going to do that. So I would love to have the options for, me personally, maybe not have to determine what day I’d love to be able to go out and do a half a practice in pads on one day and half on another, simply because of the situations that you’re working. Normally, you don’t work your short yardage and goal line until later on in the week, so you have to address that a little bit differently when you can only have one padded practice per week in the first 11 weeks of the season.”
 
(On if it is difficult as a coach to game plan for a team that has multiple starters injured and possibly sitting out the game)
“Whether you’re healthy or have injuries, after every game, there’s guys that are going to need time to recover, so the short week can be problematic. I’ve been very impressed with the way that the [Tampa Bay] defense has played, even with the injuries. They’ve done what they needed to do and keep people out of the end zone. Lovie’s teams, they always play hard. I’ve been very impressed with their defensive line. That Tampa 2 style you guys are very familiar with and Lovie has been doing it since he was an assistant back in the late-90s and early parts of the 2000s. It’s based on running to the football; re-routing receivers and running to the football. And I think they’ve got some guys that understand it, know how to coach it, and they guys go out and execute it. And the big thing is they make you earn every yard that you get when you’re playing against that style. They don’t give up the big plays usually. It’s going to be a challenge for us. You know what kind of game you’re going to get when you play a defense that Lovie Smith has something to do with.”
  
(On what he remembers from running back Bobby Rainey’s performance against Atlanta last year)
“Well that was kind of his coming-out party if I’m not mistaken last year when we played there in Tampa. I think that he’s small in stature, but he’s a very strong runner. He’s got very good vision and there’s not a whole lot of area to hit: you’ve got shoulder pads and knees and that’s about it. He’s very compact. I think that he’s got very good feel and very good vision; good quickness. And I think that they’ve got two outstanding running backs when you talk about Doug Martin. So it’s going to be a challenge for us. We’ve not played the run and defended the run well, and through the first two games of the season, Tampa’s emphasis has been to run the football, and they’ve done a good job running it. Rainey is also a guy that can catch the ball out of the backfield. I think they’ve got two really good running backs.”
 
(On how the team is doing as far as being tougher in the trenches)
“I think we’ve done a good job running the football when we’ve had to do it, and that, to me, is something that you have to do in the NFL. On the offensive side of the ball, I thought that we kept our quarterback cleaner in Week 1 than we did in Week 2. And when we keep our quarterback clean, we’re going to have an opportunity to make some plays – he’s that type of player. Defensively, we have not won the line of scrimmage at the level that we need to win it and I think, again, there’s some things schematically that we’re doing different and I don’t know that we’ve jelled as a unit. It’s more about what we’re doing than what about somebody else is doing. We’ve got to get that fixed. We’ve got to get it where our guys have a much better understanding of what we’re trying to get accomplished in stopping the run. The numbers that we’ve put up through the first two weeks are not at the level that we need to play.”
 
QUARTERBACK MATT RYAN
 
(On what went wrong in Atlanta’s loss in Week 2 to Cincinnati)
“We didn’t execute at the level that we feel like we’re capable of doing it. When you go on the road and you play against a good football team, you’re going to have an opportunity to make five or six plays throughout the game; if you don’t make them, it’s not going to bode well for you. We didn’t play the way that we’re capable of, and when you do that against good football teams, it’s going to be tough sledding.”
 
(On the differences he sees between this year’s Buccaneers team and last year’s)
“Obviously schematically, they’re different than they have been in the past with Lovie Smith coming in. We know his scheme a little bit from Chicago. I think the one thing you find when you go against a Lovie Smith-coached team is that they’re very disciplined and very sound in what they do. That’s one of the things that I think jumps off the screen when you watch the film. They play their scheme and they play it well and they know where they’re supposed to be and they get to those spots. Personnel-wise, again, I think it’s a talented defense. The front four has some really, really good players. Gerald McCoy in my opinion is one of the best players in the league, and certainly we’re going to have to prepare to account for him, as well as Michael Johnson – big pickup for them in the offseason; certainly adds a dynamic pass rusher to their defense.”
 
(On why he has had so much success in home games)
“I don’t think there’s any secret. We’ve got great fans that make it a great environment to play in, and we’ve played well at home for whatever reason. We’ve had good teams, good players in the past and we’ve been able to execute our gameplans at home. And I think it just comes down to being that simple. [Head Coach Mike Smith] talks about it all the time: we want to defend the [Georgia] Dome and play winning football at home. We’ve been able to do that. But I think it’s the great fan base and just executing our gameplans.”
  
(On what makes defensive tackle Gerald McCoy such a special player)
“I think it’s his combination of size and speed. He’s got incredible power, but he’s got a really, really quick first step, and he’s got a great instinct for making plays. That’s a really, really good combination to have. He’s been disruptive when we’ve played them in the past. I have a lot of respect for him as a player and what he’s capable of doing.”
 
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