Arthur Smith: ‘We didn’t score enough points, but that was by design’

Here’s what Falcons coach Arthur Smith had to say after the 19-10 loss to the Browns on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

ExploreWhat Falcons said following loss to Browns

Coach Arthur Smith

On the decision to play TE Kyle Pitts and his evaluation of Pitts: ”Yeah, with some of younger guys, even some of the younger guys that have played, wanted to give them a few snaps, get into a routine, and get ready for week one. Kyle, we didn’t want his first snap to be against Philly. We thought he has done a nice job all preseason. We tried to be smart with guys, evaluate those guys, and gave them a small package, let them go. Of course him and Hayden wanted to play the whole game, but you got to make those decisions. Small sample size, but was good to get him a catch, and we’ll see where we go now going into the regular season.”

On his evaluation of QB Josh Rosen: ”I thought Josh handed it pretty well. Coming into a short week, he’s been in several systems, a very smart football player. We had a package for him in the game plan; he handled it well. I thought he showed his arm talent tonight. Again, I thought he did a nice job overall.”

ExploreJosh Rosen played well in Falcons debut

On whether he’s worried about the secondary moving forward: ”No, I thought the defense tonight, you know, we didn’t bail them out enough situationally. Look, Cleveland made a couple plays, got a couple fourth down stops. Those are huge plays in the game, momentum changing plays. Only thing I was disappointed in was the turnover and giving the ball back and getting the penalty. We can’t do that. That’s a huge momentum play. That will be addressed. That’s not what we want to see, that’s not who we want to be. We don’t want to sit there. It was a great play by (linebacker) Kobe (Jones). We just got to be better operationally, and that’s on me. I don’t want to see that out there.”

On whether QB Josh Rosen did enough to stick around: ”Sure, there are some things that we are going to want to watch the film, (general manager) Terry (Fontenot) and I and the whole football staff. We won’t rush to judgment here. Give Josh credit. He came in here and handled it. We’ll take everything into consideration. I’m not ready to make that statement right now. So, yeah.”

On his plan for (exhibition) season playing time: ”Yeah, it was all intentional. It was really to get those guys ready in there. Again, if the drive had gone differently they probably would’ve been in there a couple plays, and we have certain package plays. Again, you’ve got to figure out what the quarterbacks can do. So we felt it was the best plan for Feleipe to get him going. He’s a different player than Josh. That’s not a knock on either one of them. To me, that’s the biggest part of my job is to problem solve. The problem obviously we didn’t score enough points. But that was by design. If we had gotten into some drives, some different situations, those guys were going to be up for the first two series. Just didn’t happen to work out that way the way things played out situationally ... so that was the plan with those guys.”

On what he’s looking for when making roster decisions: ”We played obviously the last game of the (exhibition) season, so we’re not going to go out there and practice tomorrow. These guys need to recover. So we’ll bring them in there on Tuesday. We can adjust. Had a little bit of a short roster, but that’s fine. There is also a bye week, too. We will practice three days and they’re going to have off, which they deserve and that’s part of the deal. So off Friday, Saturday, Sunday, so that is part of it.”

On whether he’s planning ahead for Tuesday’s cuts: ”We’ll talk about that as a staff. We have a plan. I’m just not going to share that here post-game.”

On whether he has enough clarity on quarterbacks: ”Snap judgment, but I feel good right now, but we need to look at the tape and evaluate. We’re always looking at the roster. You never know who comes available. Going to be a million calls around the league tomorrow between general managers. Not ready to make that statement. I thought for the most part Feleipe and Josh handled the plan. Again, we’ve got to score more points, stating the obvious. But the way they operated and the things we wanted to see out of them, they did a pretty decent job.”

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

On whether injuries around the NFL in the (exhibition) season helped him make decisions about playing time: ”No, you know, look, there is a lot of ways to look at it. We had a plan. We had a strategy. We started out in the preseason, and certainly I would say the thing that changed our plan was maybe a little bit, to get a longer look at Josh Rosen. So obviously unfortunate what happened to AJ McCarron so then you got to be able to adapt. But our plan for the majority of these guys was not to play them a lot in the preseason, and that was obvious. To get a full evaluation, we got a lot of young guys that we wanted to look at and need these game reps that we may not be relying on early, but chances and odds are we need them to play at some point for us this season, especially next year, and they need those game reps.”

On whether he was ever going to play QB Matt Ryan in the (exhibition) season: “No.”

ExploreMatt Ryan did not play a down in preseason

On how the veterans have shown they’re ready to go: ”Yeah, several things. I mean, going back to Matt, that’s not going to be necessarily the plan. You know, at some point, depends on your quarterback situation. If we felt we were inexperienced there, sure, we would play the quarterbacks. That’s what every coach and everybody is paid to do to make those decisions. So that’s why we didn’t play Matt going into year 14. We thought he had a good camp, we felt really good about those joint practices, and we got three opportunities. Everybody is dealing with a new situation. You got a 17-game regular season we got to get ready to play for. It’s a marathon. We wanted to get as much valuable evaluation as we could to develop guys. The only way I know how to develop quarterbacks is to let them play. That’s why we wanted to make sure they had a half. Feleipe got a game and a half, and then Josh tonight got a half.”

On his evaluation of QB Josh Rosen’s past week: ”Yeah, he did a good job. Like most of the players, very few people, especially in this business, are going to tell you, ‘Hey, I want less.’ So that’s my job, to make the decisions. The only thing, I’ll put this on me, situationally you get down in the red zone, I wanted to see him throw it. Unfortunately we took the sack there. I wanted to see him throw it, and so I conceded that. If you’re a regular season game that is probably not some of the decisions I would’ve made, and that’s the beauty of the (exhibition) season. Sometimes you feel like you’re playing with house money. Certainly, everybody is entitled to your own opinion, but that’s how we felt as a staff. To get an evaluation of the quarterback I was going to let him throw down there, so that’s why I did that.”

On whether he was pleased with only four penalties tonight: ”Yeah, that was a point of emphasis. You know, that’s the thing I won’t do here. We’re not going to complain about the rules. This game is constantly evolving and has done a nice job with some of the things that needed to be cleaned up, and that’s what the rules are. We want to coach the rules. We are not going to complain about them. I wasn’t very happy week one. Wanted to clean up some of the holds. We felt luckily, it’s not perfect, but pleased at least we cut down the penalties.”

On the defense keeping the Browns running game in check: ”Well, they did a nice job, you know, setting a wall out there. It’s a really good running football team. Cleveland is built pretty similar to us stylistically, and Kevin and his staff and the whole operation, they did a nice job last year. To me, that’s a good football team. We knew they were going to come in and at least try to run the football for the most part. I thought our guys stepped up.”

On whether he’s seen enough from QB Feleipe Franks to see where he fits in in the offense: ”Well, look, I don’t have the ego to say it’s my offense. This is our offense. It’s the Atlanta Falcons offense. We got a really good staff and a lot of people, really good staff and players. It’s our offense. My job as a coach is to make sure that it’s not going to be one size fits all. Feleipe is a completely different point in his career than Matt Ryan, than AJ McCarron, and Josh Rosen. Part of me developing him is to make sure we push him out of his comfort zone, see what he can do. But pleased with the progress he made. All different players.”

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