Falcons on Ridley: ‘We are keeping him in our prayers’

Here’s what the Falcons had to say after the 19-13 loss to the Panthers on Sunday:

TAJAE SHARPE, wide receiver

On the mood in the locker room: “Obviously disappointed that we couldn’t come out with a victory. It was a division game for us. We knew that we needed to get this one. We still have a long season ahead of us. Ten games left. We’ve got a chance to play another division opponent next week. So, our mind-set is just to continue to stack days and find ways to get wins.”

On Carolina’s plan: “I felt like they wanted to run the ball. Control the time of possession and keep our offensive off the field. As an offense, we just have to do a better job of executing and not turning the ball over, converting third downs and finding a way to stay on the field.”

On playing without Calvin Ridley: “It’s always tough being out there when one of your brothers is hurting. So, whenever one of your brothers is not here or they are going through things, we all feel it as well. Whenever you have to do that it’s tough on the rest of us, but in this league and this business it’s the next man up. We have to be prepared and step up for whatever role we have to play.”

On Ridley’s statement: “We are keeping him in our prayers. Anytime one of our brothers is hurting, we’re hurting as well. We feel for Calvin. We’re here for him whenever he needs us. Whenever he’s ready to get back to playing football, obviously his mental health is number one and the safety of his family and his health and things like that. Whatever he needs from us, we’re going to support no matter what. We are just going to try to do our job while he’s away. Until we can get him better.”

On the late notice today: “It’s always tough when your find out one of your brothers is going through something. But like I said, in this profession. You have to be ready no matter what. Throughout the week I think our team does a great job of preparing like you’re going to be the starter whether you are the starter or the backup or the third man or whatever it is. We all prepare like we’re going to be the starter. I don’t think it was as difficult for us because we have that mind-set of next man up. But it’s always tough when one of our brothers is hurting. We definitely feel for him.”

On when he found out: “We found out today. It’s always tough when we find out that one of our guys is going to be down. We are going to try our best to fill that role and just step up for the team.”

On if he reached out to him today: “No, I haven’t had the chance to. We are keeping him in our prayers. We are kind of want to give him his space so that he can focus on his mental health and things like that. We are going to continue to pray for him and just hope for the best, just kind of do the best that we can until he gets back with us.”

On how to replace Ridley’s production if he’s out for an extended period: “We are just going to continue to work week in and week out, day in and day out. Just put our best foot forward with the guys that we have on the field available. We all have trust in each other. Everybody in the locker room trust the guys that we have on this team to go out there and make the plays when their number is called.”

On what happened to the offense against the Panthers: “I think we just have to find a way to keep the ball in our hands a little more. They controlled the time of possession. We can’t turn the ball over. We just have to find ways to stay on the field. Keep our defense off the field for so much. That kind of wears them down. So we have to find ways to not turn the ball over and execute.”

On the offense looking different next week: “The trust that we have in each other in the locker room. The work that we put in each day. So, like I said, no matter who’s on the field we have trust that the guy next too us is going to make a play whenever his number is called.”

On the main issue stopping them from extending drives: “It comes down to execution. All 11 guys just being on the same page. No turning the ball over. Executing on third down to extend drives. Just things of that nature. As long as we do those then we have full confidence that we can go out there and compete with whoever is out there matched up against us.”


On how much the game plan changed without WR Calvin Ridley: “It stayed the same. Just other people stepping in to fill their shoes.”

On how much responsibility fell on his shoulders when it came to filling the shoes of Ridley: “Not much, just the same thing.”

On offensive play slowing down in the second half: “I think we just need to fix up on the small details and come back better next week.”

On Panthers taking the lead in the third quarter: “I think we just need to come out and play cleaner as an offense. Obviously not the outcome we wanted, but I think we’ll come back better next week.”

On going up against CB Stephon Gilmore: “He’s a great player and kind of gave me a welcome into the NFL, so I know how to come back and do better next week.”

On elaboration of Gilmore giving him a welcome into the NFL: “He’s just a previous Defensive Player of the Year and did some different things that I haven’t seen before, so it’s just a time for me to go back to the lab and fix it.”

On the overall assessment of personal performance today: “I think I can do better, starting with preparations so I can come back better tomorrow ready for practice and have a better (game) next week.”


On his mood after this loss:

“Definitely disappointed. Wanted to come out with a ‘W’ the first time up against the Panthers this year, so we gotta get back to work and find those things we can get better at. I feel like we should have come out on top with this one. I could feel like that all day, but we gotta go out there and execute. So, definitely disappointed.”

On how the Panthers were so successful on third down, converting 10 of 17: “When you’re playing third-and-short for a majority of the time -- I haven’t seen the film yet, but that’s what it felt like – it makes it easier for them to convert. Then they kind of got out on some blitzes and rushes that we have do a better job at containing the QB when he’s being mobile. So we definitely have to be better on third down. That’s way too much.”

On the Panthers ending up with 35 minutes of possession time, conversion of third downs resulting in the Falcons’ defense being on the field for long durations: “Yeah, without a doubt. It definitely snowballed, and that’s something we definitely wanted to do was control the clock and unfortunately, they were able to do that and keep the ball going and schemed up some nice runs against our defense. We’ve got to do better.”

On Panthers QB Sam Darnold creating plays with his feet and ending the game with 66 rushing yards, if those plays were results of his athletic ability or the defense losing control: “Both. Containing rush lanes and then him making something happen, so definitely got to give credit where credit is due. But we’ve got to be better as rushers, blitzers, whatever it may be. It’s just unacceptable, you know? And we’ve got to be better, but definitely give credit where credit is due. He made some nice plays for his team today.”

On where to go from here when play is unacceptable: “You’ve got to go back to work. You go back to work. That’s all you can do. The game has been played, and we have 10 more games left. We’re 3-4, you know, and everything we want, I feel like it’s still ahead of us. But that’s just me. I’m an optimist. I think our best is always yet to come, so everybody has to feel like that. Everybody has to be able to put their best foot forward. At the end of the day, I know I’m gonna come back to work and be the example for my teammates and try to get some wins going and give it all I got.”


On struggling to get off the field on third down: “I mean, we’ll figure that out tomorrow when we go back and watch film. Obviously, they did a good job of running the ball, did a good job tempo-ing us, and we just got to make the corrections tomorrow.”

On his hard hit on Panthers WR Robby Anderson late in the second half: “Just instincts, you know. I was getting depth because I had D.J. Moore to my side, I saw Robby Anderson coming to my side, playing vision on the quarterback, you know, I was just trying to make a football play.”

On getting chippy after the hard hit: “Yeah, it got chippy. It was probably poor judgment on my side. There was a former player over there that I played with, you know, guys were kind of mingling around and stuff like that, so I went to go talk to them, I guess because I was the guy that made the hit. I was not welcomed over there and, you know, I get it. I respect it, you know, they stuck up for their brother, and it was probably poor judgment on my side by going over there at the wrong moment.”

On players getting into it following the hard hit: “Yeah, I mean, just football, man. It’s football, a division game. I liked it. For them to respond to stick up for their guy who just went down, you know, I like that. That showed a lot of character for them and their team.”

On their growth defensively since Week 1: “Each week, we show growth. Obviously, today we didn’t get the result we wanted to, but I think we continued to show growth and we have young guys playing and guys that have stepped up and have rotating pieces within that nickel position and stuff like that, so I think guys are doing a good job. Obviously, we just have to capitalize on plays and when we call certain plays, we can’t allow the quarterback to beat us.”


On missed opportunity to win the game: “We wanted to win the game and get above .500. Keep ourselves feeling good, but now it’s back to work and to get the next W.”

On how Calvin Ridley’s situation affected the team’s preparedness: “The offense has nothing to do with the preparation for me. It’s definitely tough knowing your teammate is going through something. I wish the best for him, and he needs to do whatever he needs to do to get mentally right. But at the end of the day, I’m worried about the defense.”

On the effect of learning that Calvin Ridley was going to be out: “It shouldn’t have affected the defense. Like I said, he plays offense, but as a friend and as a teammate we definitely feel for the dude. Going through something that gives him right.”

On watching the World Series: “Yeah, I’ve definitely been keeping up with baseball. I’m definitely excited for them boys. I remember when I was first here, I was a Cardinals fan and people were saying mean things to me about the Cardinals. Power to them and city of Atlanta. I hope they get the ‘W.’”

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Atlanta Falcons Schedule

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

Next Four Games

Falcons at Saints, 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 7

Falcons at Cowboys, 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14

Patriots at Falcons, 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18

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

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