Falcons’ Arthur Smith: ‘It’s not all on the offensive line’

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

After the 25-0 loss to New England, the Falcons have been blown out in four of their six losses by an average of 28.5 points.

They lost to the Eagles by 26 points, 23 to the Bucs, 40 to Dallas and 25 to New England.

Here’s what Falcons coach Arthur Smith had to say after the loss Thursday night:

On when he knew running back Cordarrelle Patterson wouldn’t be available and how they planned to replace his production:

“We worked him out about two-and-a-half hours before kickoff, give or take. Didn’t think it was in the best interest. Obviously a guy that wants to play. He’s a big part of this team. But it wasn’t going to be – wouldn’t be good for him. ...

“You have contingency plans. When you go in there, can’t ever just be one for one. He’s a special player. Tried everything we could. Clearly it wasn’t good enough. Credit to New England.”

On missed opportunities on third-and-short and fourth-and-short:

“Sure. Yeah, I mean, it was obviously -- we knew it was going to be a physical game, it was slow moving. We had our chance down there. We tried to go in a huddle on third-and-one. As we backed up, tried to make a play, then get sacked, then the penalty on the field goal. It kind of snowballed from there in that possession.

“Too many times we were behind the sticks. When you do that against a really good team, that’s why they consistently win. We’re going to get there. I promise you that. We’re going to continue to fight, get out of this thing.

“It’s been obviously -- last two games haven’t been good enough. But it’s a long season. We got seven games and we’re going to figure this out.”

Falcons running back Qadree Ollison is leveled at the line of scrimmage by Patriots defensive lineman Christian Barmore during the second half in a NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Atlanta.    “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

On the lack of production in the running game:

“Sure. I mean, there wasn’t a lot of things that we did well tonight offensively. I mean, you don’t score points, you don’t take advantage when you do have the opportunity. Like I said, a low-possession game. Defense fought and fought. Our guys fought. It’s not like they didn’t fight on offense. But we didn’t do enough to put us in a chance to win at the end.”

On how to improve offensive-line play moving forward:

“Well, I think you got to look at everything. We’ll take this weekend and do a lot of self-reflection. Like I said, we’re going to get out of this hole because we have to and we will. We got the right guys to do it.”

On whether QB Matt Ryan injured his toe and if there’s an update on him:

“We’ll look at it first thing in the morning. Obviously he finished the game. We took him out at the end when there wasn’t going to be enough time left. Like all our players, they’ll come in tomorrow, get treatment, we’ll see what the doctors say about them all.”

On whether Ryan was affected at all by his toe:

“I think if anything – it’s a tough game. You’re playing on a short week. You’re going to have to alter plans if you think. But Matt’s a warrior. He’s going to keep fighting. That’s what all our guys did.

“If something comes up, you got to have a contingency plan. That’s every player. That’s what we tried to do tonight. We tried to adapt. It wasn’t good enough. So we’ll go back to work and we’re going to get out of this hole, like I said.”

On what gives him confidence the team will bounce back:

“Because we’ve done it before. It feels ugly right now and in this moment. Yeah, you feel obviously pretty poor when you go there, you get to 4-4, you get a big win. You guys all watched the last two games. We’ve done it before. Like I said, it’s continual improvement. You hope not to ride the roller coaster. We got to fix things and we are going to get them fixed and we’ll get them fixed in a hurry.”

On what part of the recent offensive struggles has been the most disappointing:

“Well, I don’t know there’s one thing you say it’s the most disappointing. I mean, we’re not executing. We’re getting ourselves -- there’s too many penalties that are putting us behind. You get into some of the fundamental mistakes you’re making up front or on the perimeter, I mean, so everything.

“We got to go in here, use it as a mini bye, do everything we can to self-reflect and get it fixed because there’s a lot of things. I mean, it’s everything we got to look at it. It’s never one thing.

“A lot of times it looks like, ‘Hey, this guy missed this block.’ We may have had a protection call, guard may not have come down with him. Those are things that happen unless you don’t know the play call and the scheme.”

On whether Ryan might be trying to do too much due to missing offensive weapons:

“No, I don’t think -- I don’t know if people try to do too much. These guys, they’re all sitting there trying to win. As the game gets down, you feel it, you can feel it as a coach, guys are pressing, trying to make a play. Certainly there’s moments. It’s happened at different times at a lot of our positions.

“I know he’s a warrior. He’s going to come back. We’re going to work and get it fixed.”

On the decision to give the ball to running back Qadree Ollison instead of a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-short:

“Well, you get different looks. I think the biggest misnomer, if you get certain looks and you like them or you’re going with a play you felt pretty good about.

“People package plays all the time. If you may not get the look you want, like I said, obviously everything’s on the table. We got to look at it, we got to fix it.”

On whether QB Matt Ryan has the option to sneak it in short yardage if he gets a look he likes:

“Every offense in the NFL people package plays. Watch New England tonight, whether they hit the helmet, do the throw thing, it’s very center issued. People call them audibles. They’re not really audibles. Most people package plays now.

“I’m not going to get into every single detail of our scheme. But that’s pretty common in the NFL, how people package plays.”

On what gives him confidence that offensive-line play will improve:

“Well, a lot of it is about matchup. Like I said, it feels bad now, but we have had some success this year and moments. We’ve got to look at the matchup, maybe schematically what we’re doing. It’s not all on the offensive line. We’ve got to get things fixed all over the offense. That’s where we’re at.

“You sit there and you ride the roller coaster, you feel like you’re improving. Obviously the last two weeks clearly not good enough. But they’ve done it and we’re going to continue to work. That’s the only thing we know how to do. That’s what it is. We’re going to play seven more games. As bad as this feels, a lot of things can happen in seven games.

“If we hadn’t done it at all, sure, you’d be, ‘All right, what are you going to realistically do?’ But we have and we will get it fixed. All the options or on the table. We’re going to look at everything.”

On the decision to switch up the personnel in the defensive front:

“Yeah, I mean, a lot of them, you’re on a short week. If you got guys that are maybe a little banged up, where you’re at in the season, you got guys that maybe are fresh, comes to matchups. We knew it was going to be a pretty physical game, so that’s why we made the decisions we did up front.”

Offensive-lineman Jake Matthews

On moving forward after two losses:

“It’s frustrating. It’s not who we want to be. It makes you angry. We know we’re better and we have to fix it and that’s what we intend on doing.”

On thoughts about the stats:

“Not good enough. Not acceptable. It takes all of us. I have to do a better job and as a group up front, we have to do a better job. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing. We just have to execute better, and we will watch the film on it. We win next week and get this thing rolling. That’s what we intend on doing.”

On steps to fix things:

“I think just executing. We know what to do and we just have to do it. We got to have confidence doing it and make it happen. It’s hard to give an answer and solve it right here, but it’s a lot of stuff. We’ll take the film out and figure it out. It’s definitely a group effort, that’s the biggest thing.”

On what he says after each hit:

“Try to correct it. It’s a special thing being a part of the offense line. It’s five guys working together like that, and we all have to do a better job and that’s our priority. Don’t let anybody touch the quarterback and have to improve on that. It’s frustrating but it’s a long season.”

On how he keeps this from falling apart:

“Just regrouping. That’s the beauty of the NFL. You get an opportunity every week and these last two weeks are nowhere near where we want to be as a team and it’s not what we want to be known for. We have another opportunity next week and we win there. Like I said earlier, we start this thing and get rolling. It’s a long season.”

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Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo

Atlanta Falcons schedule and scores

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons 30, Dolphins 28

Panthers 19, Falcons 13

Falcons 27, Saints 25

Cowboys 43, Falcons 3

Patriots 25, Falcons 0

Next four games

Falcons at Jacksonville, 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 28

Tampa Bay at Falcons, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5

Falcons at Carolina, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12

Falcons at San Francisco, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19