Falcons’ Arthur Smith: ‘No, we’re not making staff adjustments’

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Here’s what Falcons coach Arthur Smith has to day after the 25-23 loss:

On what he said to the team following the loss: ”The last two weeks have been very similar, losing at the end. Obviously, you put everything you’ve got into it and get frustrated, but we’ve got to find a way. Get on that plane, get back and use this bye week to regroup, put everything in there, find solutions and go win against New Orleans. That’s the only thing we can do. I feel like we’re frustrated as anybody would be when you come up short, but we have to fix what’s been our issues and find a way to get back over in the win column and get over the hump.”

On what adjustments were made to slow Cardinals TE Trey McBride: ”Yeah, he did. They’ve got the speed on the outside, he caught some things underneath. Obviously, they took the shot, so give and take. It’s not what you wanted there at the end, but we have to find a way to fix it. It’s been our Achilles heel the last two weeks.”

On QB Taylor Heinicke’s performance through three quarters: ”A little bit of the plan early, really only had three possessions in the first half and a lot of that was because we chewed the clock down running it. We had a huge emphasis to try and run the ball, so that was a little bit of it. Then in the third quarter, give them credit, we got behind the sticks, they made a couple of sacks that got us off track. We didn’t do a good enough job of executing. Regrouped in the fourth quarter. Obviously, he pulled his hamstring, so [Falcons QB Desmond Ridder] Des came in and did a really nice job and he gave us a chance. Obviously made that play on the zone read, but unfortunately, we came up short.”

On how Ridder’s play affects a potential decision on the team’s starting quarterback: ”I think it will definitely have an effect. We’ve got to make a decision, and like I said, Des did a nice job coming back out there. I thought he kind of reset, and we were confident in him if he had to come in on the second play of the game with the way he prepared, he didn’t flinch. He gave us a chance to win.”

On what he thinks hasn’t been working for the team: ”It always comes down to the way these games are. Most of them are one possession. It’s those little things that make the difference in a game and unfortunately, it’s been a few plays here or there and we have to close the gap. It’s the reality of these one-possession games, we’ve been on the wrong side of it, so there’s a lot of little things that we have to continue to work on. We’ve got to find any and all solutions to get us back over there.”

On the difference in the team’s performance between the last two years in one possession games: ”Obviously, we took care of the football today so that wasn’t an issue. I think some of those short fields, the sudden changes. That possession when we got sacked and then couldn’t get the first down, so they get the ball already in field goal range when they scored that touchdown there, those little things. It’s not just one phase, it’s in all phases and that’s been a problem.

On what happened on the offensive series following the interception by the defense: ”We ran it twice and got a look we wanted. I thought we’d get a little bit of a gain, we got [Falcons RB] Bijan [Robinson] free release and caught him one-on-one on that backside, the way they kind of flooded to the front side there, obviously we got flushed out of there.”

On how pivotal their performance in the third quarter was for the final outcome:” Very. I have to give them credit. We didn’t execute very well, and we got sacked a few times, which crushed a couple of those drives. It’s not just on the o-line, there’s everything that goes into it. But that’s what you do, you regroup, you come back. That quarter wasn’t good enough, so we regrouped and made a couple of adjustments. That’s why you saw us take those shots. That’s how we got going, so you get off track and it’s hard to overcome some of those, so we’ve got to do a better job there.”

On self-scouting going into the bye week: ”We self-scout every week. Obviously, you take a step back. Here we are, not where we want to be. Somehow, someway we’re not out of it. Focus on that, but things we can control. We’ve got to regroup, look at everything and find solutions.

On if he feels the team is unraveling: ”No, not at all. I feel frustrated, but I would not use that word. Everybody’s got their own opinions, but [if] you’re out there every day and know those guys that we’ve got in here, I’m betting on them.”

On if QB Taylor Heinicke gave the team enough: ”In the first half, every plan is different. We felt really confident in the way we wanted to run the ball and we did early. They made some adjustments, and we got off track, so it’s not all on him. Des came in and it’s unfortunate Taylor pulled his hamstring. Extending the plays. He made some play extensions on some pass plays early that led to touchdowns. He kept drives going so we’ll look at everything, but it was definitely encouraging seeing Des come back in there. He settled, was very confident. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have pulled the ball right there, I can tell you that. That play will tell you a lot because if you don’t want the ball in your hands it would’ve been real easy to hand it off. That’s one assessment I can give you just stating the obvious. And not living in his fears, that’s basically the same play where the ball popped out against Tampa.

On what he saw on the failed 4th-and-1 conversion: ”I’ll have to look at it, I think he slipped a little bit on that. Obviously, it didn’t convert, but I’ve got to take a better look at it.”

On the way RB Bijan Robinson was used in today’s game: ”That’s the way we pretty much operate. That’s why we took him, he’s a dynamic player. He bounced that one for a touchdown. He’s done a lot of things, and they were trying to take away certain things and we used him all over the place. When we were trying to get him the ball, there was one that we botched, but he did a nice job today.”

On how if today’s game is indicative of how they plan to use Robinson moving forward: ”We gameplan all of those guys. We try to get everybody involved. We’ve got a lot of good players, but obviously as a running back you can force the ball to him that way. We’ve got to find a way to get over that hump and not be a couple points short here at the end of the game.”

On why they have struggled to get all of their playmakers involved in a game: ”We haven’t had them all healthy either. Again, the game plans are different. We made a huge emphasis on running the football today. Obviously, in the fourth quarter we needed to adjust. They adjust, we adjusted, and we ended up moving the ball down the field pretty good. It just wasn’t enough.”

On what has changed on the defense in the last three weeks: ”There’s a lot of things that go into it. They had one pretty good drive right before the half, obviously not giving them the short field would help whether it’s by turnover or in the return game. Get them to third down, seems like there’s a play here and there, and we’ve got to find a way to contain better, change things up, get some pressure. We didn’t have to hold the coverage and let him scramble. We’ll look at everything.”

On if he anticipates making any changes during the bye week: ”We’ll just look at everything. We look at everything we’re doing. We’ve got to make an adjustment. We’ve got seven games left and we’re not out of it and we’re going to put everything we have humanly possible to do our job better and to go win this division. That’s all that we can control. It’s unfortunate, we’re frustrated and you’ve got to look at everything. That’s what we’ll do. That’s our plan going into the bye, so it’s coming at the right time for us. We need to reset and we’ll be ready to roll when New Orleans comes into Atlanta.”

On if any play calling or staff adjustments will be made: ”No, we’re not making staff adjustments. I know those are natural questions. We’ve got the right guys in there. You look at everything every week and find a way to get these wins. I know those are natural questions, I’m not blaming you for those questions. I know this is what happens when you lose a couple in a row, there’s frustrations, but we’ve got the right people in here.”

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