On RB Todd Gurley trying to stay loose on the sideline and whether he planned to save most of Gurley’s touches for the second half:"You just never know with Gurley. I don’t know what happened injury-wise, I just know he’s got to get himself going. He got himself going late, got a couple of really good runs there and the end and he finished the game for us. That’s what he’s been brought here to do – finish the game in the end zone and he did that tonight."
On the decision to take the points on the opening drive and whether that decision was impacted by not converting on fourth down in the red zone last week:"You never base any decisions on what happened last week or your previous weeks. You’re basing them on what your plan is this week and how you wanted to manage the game. This week wanted to manage the game. We felt like if we could get points on the board, get this thing close, that we felt like we could go ahead and win it with Matt at the end. Fortunately, today for us our defense won it at the end and it was nice. You want to end the half with the ball and we did it in both halves, which is great."
On whether having WR Julio Jones in this matchup against Carolina was the biggest difference offensively between tonight’s game and the Week 5 game:"Anytime he plays in a game, there’s going to be a big difference. We talked about this earlier, we talked about them with Christian McCaffrey and us with Julio Jones. Those two guys are LeBron James-type players, Michael Jordan-type players. When they play, they’re difference-makers and he definitely showed that tonight for sure."
On LB Foye Oluokun’s performance, especially on the fourth-down stops:"He’s having a phenomenal year. He’s been one of the most consistent players that we’ve had on defense all year with how he’s played, how physical he’s played, getting after the ball, making big plays after big plays. He made another couple of them tonight. At this point, it’s not shocking. It’s almost expected for him."
On bringing additional blitzers to put pressure on Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater:"They have such a good offense, you have to have the opportunity to get after the quarterback somehow. You have to have answers and you have to have reasons. I can’t keep standing in front of you guys talking about the pass rush and the four-man rush not getting home, so as a coaching staff, you have to do something about it and my guys did tonight. Give Jeff Ulbrich, give Aden Durde and Bob Sutton a lot of credit for the plan they helped put together. I was really proud of everybody."
On the spark RB Brian Hill provided:"You talk about a physical, tough, running machine. His effort, all of the things he brings to the game – his passion for the game – just him on the sideline and him cheering for his guys and doing some of the things he does when he’s on the field, it’s just awesome. It’s unbelievable. We were fired up to get those guys rolling tonight."
On LB Deion Jones' performance:"Deion played more consistent tonight, which is good. If we get Deion going and Foye going, Dante Fowler playing with a lot more energy these days, you love it how that’s working out for all of those guys. Deion is one of those contributors for us that’s going to be big time."
On only scoring two touchdowns on six red zone trips and how that can be fixed moving forward:"I think when you come out of every game, you’re going to have something that you want to get better at. Certainly, we can focus on that. We were talking about two-minute defense. We got better at that tonight. It was certainly improved. We can talk about our red zone offense and some of the red zone things we want to do next week, and I look forward to going against that with Denver next week."
On whether he saw something on film that made him think the defense could be successful with gap blitzes against the Panthers:"Just game-planning. When you have to go out, and some things are going to change every single week, how you play and how you have to play. We’ve talked about before, you have to find ways to get to the quarterback. You have to find ways to mentally disrupt him and we did tonight and affected him."
On clarifying what he meant by “You never know” about RB Todd Gurley:"You never know what he’s doing on the sideline. If he’s getting ready, staying loose and all of those types of things. When Gurley goes out there, he’s ready to go. Sometimes he has to go off to the side and ride his bike and get ready, sometimes it’s just getting his mental right doing all the types of things that he needs to do. It’s kind of Julio-fashion when it comes to those things."
On QB Matt Ryan showing off his speed:"I told you guys, he’s one of those new-age quarterbacks. You guys were sleeping on him when I was saying that this whole time, but Matt’s making plays with his feet, making plays with his arm, making plays with his mind and he’s certainly leading this football team."
Falcons' upcoming games
Broncos at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8
Falcons at Saints at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22
Las Vegas Raiders at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 29
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