Falcons’ Arthur Smith: ‘Put ourselves in a hole again’

LONDON -- Here’s what Falcons coach Arthur Smith had to say after the 23-7 loss to the Jaguars on Sunday at Wembley Stadium:

Q. What are your overall thoughts on the team’s performance?

ARTHUR SMITH: “Obviously we got to do a better job. Starts with me jump starting up the offense early. Put ourselves in a hole again. Different reasons, but the reality is we put ourselves in a hole and can’t turn the ball over. So that’s something we all got to look at. It’s not just one person. You make life hard for yourself then you got to come back and you’re in fourth down territory and we don’t make the fourth and three to try to cut it to one possession game late. We got to do a better job early in games. There is no doubt about it.”

Q. What went wrong on the interceptions?

ARTHUR SMITH: “Yeah, I mean, first one, again, I got to look at the tape. They were popping out there in zone coverage and you going in there to Drake (WR Drake London) I believe, and got popped up inside, so made a play on it. It’s a tough lesson to learn from. You evaluate that, talk about it, and then you want to give them a chance. There was a play earlier we felt we had Kyle (TE Kyle Pitts); don’t fault him foregoing to Drake. Came back to it; it’s a different look. The picture is never going to be the same, but something we felt good about that and had options. I believe it was Cisco (Jaguars S Andre Cisco), came out of the middle of the field and jumped it if I’m not mistaken. Obviously that happened back to back. Thankfully the defense made a stand there. Now you’re limited in your possessions, so that’s what put us in the hole, and thankfully in the third quarter we were able to do something to jump start. Again, you’re going to make life hard on yourself when you put yourself behind like that.”

Q. What was his mindset after those two picks?

ARTHUR SMITH: “Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing, those are tough, tough lessons for a young quarterback. You know, you find out about yourself when you go back out there. So that’s why the second half he was able to push out ball down the field a little bit. Thought he played cleaner in the pocket. We were able to get some looks and he was not risk adverse after that, which a lot of times that happens. Reality is we got to find a way to jump start early. That’s always going to start with me. We got the right guys in the locker room, but that is a reality, and the other reality is thankfully we’re 2-2 and got get back to Atlanta and get this thing jump started.”

Q. Seems like a common thread (indiscernible). You think that’s been a problem?

ARTHUR SMITH: “Different coverages. Good question. There is something that’s happened that has led to -- today it happened twice, two different things. One was under coverage in a quick game and one was a play-action. So different looks. I don’t know what essentially locking onto it, but I think sometimes you got to learn some tough lessons in this league. Unfortunately, we got behind.”

Q. What was it like to see Falcons fans here in the UK?

ARTHUR SMITH: “Well, I think the whole NFL fan base. It’s great to have the Falcon fan base, as you see the game growing internationally. Obviously not pleased at all with the result today. I mean, better result last time, but the overall experience and playing over here has been excellent. It’s good to see the game grow.”

Q. Was there a reason you didn’t run the ball on that fourth down late in the fourth quarter?

ARTHUR SMITH: “It was pressure, so in that situation we call got-to-have-it, so you’re trying to give yourself the best chance you can. They bring everybody in the middle, so we try to get out of the pocket on it and I believe they kind of combo’d Mack [WR Mack Hollins] and Drake [WR Drake London] and made the right read, unfortunately, out of the back of the end zone. But that’s why, sometimes the look doesn’t work. You need a different call.”

Q. How do you evaluate the last two drives?

ARTHUR SMITH: “Yeah, I think you look at yourself as a team if you have the right guys. We’re frustrated. There will be times, again, when it’s going to flip the other way. If you got a real team you understand that you have that perspective. I think internally, yeah, everybody will be frustrated after a loss. When you have the right guys and the right minds, they’re going to understand, hey, let’s not let them get early momentum; make the play on the sack. Don’t let a busted coverage, a guy leak out on a cover. Those are things you look at in reality. If you have the wrong guys it’s easy to splinter and ride the rollercoaster. We got the right guys in there and we know we got to get back to work and jump start and get this thing rolling, get back on the winning track.”

Q. Coach, what was the talk at halftime?

ARTHUR SMITH: “You know, different than Detroit, I thought we were a little tight and I told guys, relax. Stop pressing. We’re going to take this first drive. Let’s not everybody try to do too much and get into this drive and we’ll come out with a positive result. Thankfully the guys went out there, and to their credit, they did that, got us going a little bit. We got another long drive after being backed up. Credit to them. They made a play on the screen. Guy under cut on the screen and got us off track and we didn’t overcome it. Then we had the long drive I believe, right, after that, and then it was in the fourth and three. Again, to Michael’s point earlier, when you start slow, that’s going to put yourself in some really pressure situations and trying to overcome a lot.”

Q. Was there a moment you felt like in the first half that the pressing offense was obvious?

ARTHUR SMITH: “You know, first drive we started backed up. Didn’t get out of there. The next one I believe we went three and out. So thankfully we hit I believe it was the third drive to Jonnu [TE Jonnu Smith], right, so at least started trying to get in a rhythm. Unfortunately the turnovers happened. But to come back from that, that’s where you want to see who can actually come back and face adversity. The odds are -- you can’t turn the ball over three times. You lose a turnover, the numbers are astronomical and they’ll go against you. That’s always been life in the NFL. So, it’s always going to start with me and we got to go back, objectively look, and whatever we have to do to get this thing jump started, that’s what we’re going to do.”

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