Falcons’ Arthur Smith: ‘The truth is we’re still in the mix’

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

caption arrowCaption
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith discusses on and off the field following the team's 30-17 loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons coach Arthur Smith defended his play calling from the 1-yard line and was not too harsh on the team after it blew an opportunity to upset the Buccaneers on Sunday.

Here’s what Smith had to say after the 30-17 loss to the Buccaneers:

OPENING STATEMENT: “Before we get started, I just wanted to give my condolences to the family of Claude Humphrey. Obviously, Claude was a great player in this league and a great person, and another guy that was ended up coming here to Atlanta. So I just wanted to send my condolences to his family. With that, I’ll open it up.”

On how deflating the fumble on the opening drive of the second half was: “Well, I wouldn’t call it deflating. I mean, those are mistakes that you don’t want to, obviously, make there. But our mindset is, you know, if you’re going to say things deflate you or concern you in the middle of the game, it’s a battle. We got to be cleaner with the football, there’s no doubt about that. Deflate is not a word we use. We’re going to keep fighting and swinging.”

On how damaging the fumble on the opening drive of the second half was: “You can rephrase it however you want. I mean, they made a play. You know, we got to continue work on that. We’ll be cleaner. So, call it damaging, call it deflating, we don’t use those words. We continue to swing and fight. We’ll fight to the finish.”

On the reasoning for not trying to run the ball on the goal line in the first half: “We did. We had a fumbled snap. I’ll show you the call sheet.”

On whether he thought play-action would work: “Yeah. I mean, like, you’re asking a pretty -- you have a question here. So the thought process is you’re trying to call plays to score a touchdown. I mean, that’s pretty obvious, Michael. That’s a pretty obvious -- again, what are you asking? You’re asking the type of plays called? Yeah, I wouldn’t have called it if I didn’t. I mean, you’re asking kind of, like, the no-brainer. You don’t call plays to think, ‘Hey, I hope this works, we don’t think it’s going to work.’ That’s just a -- if you’re asking if we had called a run, yes, we did. And then we had a snap issue.”

On recent offensive struggles over the past month: “We had one offensive touchdown in four -- however you want to phrase it. Look, we’re going to continue to improve, Michael. Again, I understand what you’re trying to ask to create a narrative. If you look at the last two games, you know, we did pretty good running the football. Had a chance here. That’s a good football team. We made too many --, we turned the ball over. You make some mistakes, it’s hard to beat a good football team like that. If you want to squish that in certain spots to fit a narrative, great. All I know is this team has improved. You look at last week, you look at this week, I don’t have the number in front of me, but I know we had over 150 -- what was it, 150 yards rushing? So however your mind works.”

On how the late first-half touchdown affected the second-half: “Well, it’s still -- the game wasn’t, you know, ever -- really, you got to get in the hurry-up at the end. A ten-point game for --, as you get into it, it’s still early in the fourth quarter, it’s not going to alter your game plan.”

On how Tampa Bay’s pressure on QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ lack of pressure on QB Tom Brady affected the game: “Yeah, certainly the sacks are going to hurt you. I mean, when you read a stat like that, they did a nice job of protecting, they kept Brady clean. It’s everybody’s intention to get after the quarterback. They did a nice job. They got good players upfront. Certainly, we’ll look at it and see, you know, what can tweak here. But, yeah, that’s usually a pretty good tell of how it went.”

On whether there’s a way to defend against QB Tom Brady without getting pressure on him: “Sure. I mean, catch the ones he throws you. Marlon caught one. You know, he threw Deion another one. We didn’t catch it. He’s a great player. If he gives you opportunities, we got to make a play on the ball. But there’s other ways to defend him. But, I mean, he is a great player.”

On whether he considered going for it on fourth-down mid-fourth quarter: “If it had been fourth, probably eight or less. That’s where you would have considered it. Fourth-and-12, where the ball’s at midfield, you know, the way they were rushing, you know, the odds are stacked against you there. You’re basically going to hand them the ball with one first down pretty much for a field goal. We punted it down there, we had confidence. And to their credit, they made plays and they converted. And, you know, that’s how the game ended. We’ll reassess everything every Monday.”

On his overall assessment of the game: “Well, we’ll have to watch the film. The surface level, the snaps, we got to clean that up. Surface level. So that’s kind of -- but we got look at the film. Vita Vea is a good nose. They got good guys in front.”

On being 5-7 but still in the mix for the playoffs:

“Sure. Still in the mix.”

On whether there’s anything he can say to the team about staying in the playoff hunt:

“Sure. That’s a good question, Jeff. Because you know how it is, you’ve covered sports a long time. You’re sitting there and looking at it however you want to shape it up in your mindset. The truth is we’re still in the mix, we got five games to go. That’s a lot of football left. Like I said, we’ll get back to work.

We’ve seen a lot of improvement the last two weeks and we’re excited about the challenge to go on the road again and play a divisional opponent. So we got to be ready to go because the opportunity is still there, Jeff. That’s a great point. They know it and we know it, and that will be a great charge.”

On whether stopping the run like the defense did today is a recipe for success moving forward:

“Yeah, I mean, that’s kind of who they are. I believe going into this game they’re 31st in the league in rush attempts. I mean, they got good players upfront. When they got the talent level they got outside and you got Brady at quarterback, and they protect pretty well for most of the year.

I mean, there’s -- I mean, they throw it. That’s kind of always been Bruce Arians’ MO. They got a decent run game. They had to run it when they needed to. But that wasn’t a surprise if you looked at the numbers going into this thing.”

On whether there’s something the team is doing on the road that they’re missing at home:

“You know, we constantly look at everything. You know, we didn’t win the ones that I felt, you know, we should have. I mean, there’s a reason why. You know, some of its matchup based. We got to play better certainly at home. So there’s a lot of factors to it.”

The Bow Ties

For more content about The Atlanta Falcons

Follow me on Twitter @DOrlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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

Falcons 21, Jaguars 14

Next four games

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

Detroit Lions at Falcons, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26

About the Author

Editors' Picks