Falcons’ Arthur Smith: ‘Too many negative plays on early downs’

On the offense having issues getting in sync today: “Yeah, too many negative plays on early downs, got put behind the count a lot on the road and they made life on third down even tougher. We’ve got to do a better job in that, all of us. That’s usually what happens when you get too many negative plays early down. You got to give Detroit credit. Tried to mix some things up, obviously didn’t execute well enough. There’s always going to be calls you want to have back, but that’s pretty much the story of the game, was too many negative plays on early downs which led to a lot of ugly offensive football. But, as ugly as that did feel, we had our chances even late to try to do something with it and we didn’t. We didn’t convert third-and-medium and then the fourth-and-medium after (Falcons S) Jessie (Bates III)’s interception and even in the one before the field goal we missed. You’re trying to play two-down right there, and we’d love to have those back. That’s the thought and you get the fourth-and-5 and make it a one-possession game, so a lot of things we can do better, all of us, and thankfully that’s only one and there’s some tough lessons learned. Tomorrow, we’ve got to get back to work, look as a team, all of us and get ready to go get on that plane Thursday.”

On if giving up seven sacks is a concern: “Yeah, I mean some of them, I mean they’re different schemes. Obviously when you have some of the obvious drop backs, especially late, one or two of them, but some of them were on some actions and they beat us off the snap and it was right now. If it’s the crowd, or whatever it is, we got to do a better job getting into that. We didn’t even get the play started. It puts you all off on those, so it wasn’t like it was all just drop back. I know that sounds like an excuse, but I’m just trying to give you the difference. It wasn’t like they were just collapsing on some of the traditional pass pro, but obviously they got seven sacks, we got zero and we hit (Lions QB Jared) Goff a few times, but they clearly affected our quarterback, and they got us off track and credit to Detroit. They were ready to go.”

On the importance of having offensive rhythm early and what they can change: “Yeah, we didn’t. If it was one issue, but you’ve got to go back, look at the tape. I mean a lot of it is, and some of it isn’t actual football. You’ve got to convert a third-and-8, a third-and-9 and not only be third-and-3s. There was a lot of things, but whether it was on the play-actions, even on some of the quicks, drop backs. I mean there was a couple things. You look at the tape and that’s where you have to be objective and clearly today, like I said, we didn’t get on track hardly at all, and still had chances late, but credit to Detroit.”

On if there are any changes that could be made to the offensive line and their first half performance: “Those were just penalties if I recall. Some of those penalties that got us and some of those second-and long.” On the pass protection leading to a lot of pressure today: “Yeah, I mean the first one dropped. I mean they’re all different. You know what I mean? Some of them are drop back. That was the one (Lions LB Derrick) Barnes got off on the edge. Some of them were internal pressure. There was all kind of things. I mean you get into the games where, how you want to protect inside, where the help is, you look at that every week. Like I said, thankfully we’re 2-1. It’s only one. We’ve got to handle that environment better, so until you look at the tape tomorrow and go about it step-by-step if you want, but it clearly wasn’t good enough today.”

On what Detroit did defensively that caused the Falcons issues offensively: “Again, like I said, some of the stuff I would say we never got in a rhythm and a lot of it was on early downs. The penetration, even when we got in a rhythm, if you hold off too long on some of your locks, guy runs underneath, gets there before you get him, that’s the difference between a really good play and a negative play and credit to them.”

On Lions DL Aidan Hutchinson’s two sacks: “I mean look, there’s a lot of good players on Detroit. You get into some obvious pass situations late, hold the ball, they play in soft coverage. Credit to them. They’ve got good players. It’s the NFL.”

On Falcons QB Desmond Ridder’s performance: “I mean he gave us a chance. There were obviously going to be a couple throws you want to have back, and I thought the one that hit to (Falcons WR) Drake (London) early was good. Got in a rhythm, probably earlier it felt like, but clearly when you lose like that there’s not a lot to feel great about and that’s anybody and it’s everybody. It’s going to take all 11 of us, so again when you get behind that much – the drives are certainly on some of the long-yardage situations, it’s going to make you some obvious points, but there’s all things we got to look at.”

On running the ball on third down on the drive that ended in a missed field goal: “We were kind of in four-down territory, assuming you were going to get to fourth-and-4 less. Obviously, I wouldn’t have called it if I knew I was only going to get one yard. You’re trying to hope to get the pop the first, take some pressure off it. At worst, we had the fourth down call we wanted. You get to fourth-and-5, made the decision to kick the field goal to make it hopefully a seven-point game. We missed it. So, that was the thought going behind it. Obviously, the plan didn’t work, but that had nothing to do with the protection. It was trying to play the game within the game. Clearly it didn’t work out.”

On if he is concerned about lack of consistent pressure on Lions QB Jared Goff: “Well we hit him. Clearly, we didn’t get him sacked. They hit the one kind of throwback play and I’d look at the tape. Obviously when someone’s that wide open, there’s usually some kind of issue that happened. The action or the double move on the route, those are the ones when he’s holding it. We had some of those today that, give Detroit credit, because they got to us on the pressure before we could get it off. He made a hell of a throw. Obviously, it was a good play and that was the one that gave them a little bit of life early. We held them on the one drive down there, but had the illegal contact, but again it’s just consistency all around. You lose field position on a penalty on a punt return. Those hurt. It’s everything, but it’s all of us, starting with me. Thankfully it’s one game, but we’ve got to get back to work tomorrow.”

On his confidence level in Falcons QB Desmond Ridder: “Yeah, it’s still pretty high. He gives a chance. So, we’ve got to do a lot better. When you lose a game like that, I mean that’s the name of the game. Come back tomorrow. Be objective. We’re 2-1. We got to go on the road and fly across the Atlantic. We’ve got to get ready to go and play a really good Jacksonville team and a defense that’s pretty good and that’s our job. That’s the NFL. You’re looking for that consistency coming out every week and give Detroit credit.”

On if there is an update on injured Falcons ILB Troy Andersen: “Yeah, I don’t know yet. They’re evaluating the shoulder. Sometimes you have to wait until you have MRIs. I don’t have any update on him.”

On if Falcons ILB Troy Andersen’s injury was to his shoulder: “I haven’t seen him. I saw him in shoulder pads. I’ve got to see it, so I don’t want to tell you something that’s not. Until we get the MRI, I won’t have an answer.”

On Detroit’s offensive line and their ability to protect Lions QB Jared Goff: “I mean, they probably stayed on track a little bit better than we did. I didn’t think overall the defense like I said, gave us chance and credit to Detroit’s defense. We never got in rhythm. That’s credit to them. Like I said, they clearly stayed on track. They made enough plays to win the game.”

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