What Mike McCarthy had to say about the Falcons

The Falcons (0-1) are set to the play the Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at 1 p.m .Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Dallas coach Mike McCarthy spoke with the Atlanta media via conference call on Wednesday.

Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What can you tell us about Aldon Smith’s come back after being out of the game for the past five years?

A: He’s doing great. It’s a great story. I can’t say enough about him on what he’s done to get to this point. From a pure football standpoint, he really went out there and lit it up in Week One. I’m really happy with the way that Aldon’s played. He’s been a great fit for us. The defensive line room as a whole has a lot of veteran Alphas in there and Aldon is definitely one of those guys. But he’s off to a great start.

Q: How’s coach Mike Nolan doing with the defense as your coordinator? He’ll be going against Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter? (Both were on Mike Smith’s 2012 staff that went to the NFC title game.)

A: Mike Nolan is doing a great job. He’s put together a really good system and a package that does a good job of featuring our players. It gives them the opportunity to make plays in the scheme. It’s fundamentally sound. So, I really like what Mike is doing and how the defensive staff has come together. He’s off to a great start. Dirk been around a long time. He’s off to a great start with the offensive production in Atlanta this year.

Q: What was your impression of the Falcons offense against Seattle?

A: Very impressed with the Falcons offense. Obviously, it started out with the run-pass mix, their explosion and their big-play production. You can’t say enough about Calvin (Ridley) and Julio (Jones) and the numbers they put up in Week One. It’s obviously a carryover from last year. Matt (Ryan) is playing at an All-Pro level. So, it’s going to be a big challenge for our defense.

Q: Any thoughts on the Falcons' defense?

A: Defensively, I thought they were extremely active. They were flying all over the place. It looks like they’ve changed some from last year. We are just expecting to prepare and compare last year to Week One against Seattle.

Q: What have you seen from Matt Ryan over the years?

A: I’m a fan of Matt’s. I think he’s done a great job. Anytime that a quarterback has system changes and he keeps playing at a high level, it speaks volumes. Obviously, he looks very, very comfortable in Dirk’s scheme. His ability to make all of the throws, all of the checks and he plays with great anticipation with ball placement. He’s a veteran and established quarterback, who’s playing at a high level with excellent weapons. He’s going to be a big challenge for us this week.

Q: As a coach with an offensive background is it a natural tendency to test and go after a rookie cornerback?

A: If you look at the whole body of work. We have a perimeter group that we really like. Really, it’s about giving them matchups and matchup opportunities. However Atlanta decides to matchup and play us and align, at the end of the day we’re going to run our concepts and do the things that we feel put us in position to be productive on offense.

Q: What’s the plan to replace Leighton Vander Esch on defense?

A: Leighton is a big part of our defense. He obviously took over the (middle linebacker) position at the beginning of camp and was the key communicator. I think he was a young player really coming into his own. We’re definitely going to miss him. Looking forward to getting him back at some point. I thought Joe Thomas stepped in and played well. He kept us lined up and was getting the calls and so forth. But yeah, anytime that you lose a player of Leighton’s stature, it’s definitely something that affects your defense.

Q: After seeing the L.A. Rams' Aaron Donald in Week One, what’s your opinion of Grady Jarrett?

A: Grady is a big time player. ... Dan (Quinn) does a great job there of highlighting those defensive linemen. Grady is a force and someone that we have targeted.


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