What the Falcons said after the 37-17 loss to the Dolphins

Here’s the the Falcons had to say after the 37-17 loss to the Dolphins on Saturday:

Falcons LG/RT Jalen Mayfield

(Right tackle, left guard, getting a lot of action here early in your career. How did it go today out there for yourself?) – “There’s a lot of things to build off of. I thought for the most part I did pretty well, but I know there’s a lot I need to clean up. Technically, I’m not where I want to be yet. Playing both tonight, I felt pretty comfortable doing both. As a unit, I think we played pretty well up front. There’s still stuff we can clean up of course, but that’s why preseason is here to find the corrections and get back to work on Monday.

(From last week to this week, how was it first game last weekend. Now I guess you’re – any jitters this week, or how did it go for this week?) – “Definitely every guy’s first game in the NFL, you’re going to have jitters. You don’t know what to expect. I know you practice all training camp, but it’s the first game to play in the NFL, and I think emotions for everybody are kind of running high, especially being at home and stuff. I think tonight I really found myself more locked in, more able to recognize what I need to do, and as a team, we have some highs and lows in the game, but I think as a team we’re a little more focused. There’s just certain little details I think as a unit we need to clean up. When we get in the red zone, I think we’ve got to score. That’s got to be the mentality on the whole team, there’s a lot of stuff I can do better and the team can.”

(Coach said you all had 95 competitive reps Wednesday and Thursday with the Dolphins. How has that been efficient for your growth?) “Just seeing every day going against guys like Grady (Jarrett) and Dante (Fowler Jr.) and all the guys we have, just changing it up a little bit and going from blocking them every day to seeing different techniques used by other players on other teams definitely I thought was beneficial. It gave me more of a perspective to see what the rest of the league is doing and what I have to expect, especially playing on the interior and outside, from most of the league.”

(How comfortable are you playing on the inside? Do you feel pretty comfortable there at this point?) – “Yeah, I feel pretty comfortable. I thought tonight I felt pretty comfortable. There’s still stuff, of course, I need to work on, just not getting as many reps as I have. That’s why preseason is here. You find your weaknesses. You build off of that. You really try to anchor down and figure out what your weaknesses are to build off of that. I feel pretty comfortable at right tackle. I feel comfortable at left guard. Whatever spot the team needs me to play, I’ll be there.”

(You got the running game going a little bit today. How did you all feel given last week…) – “I think last week we just had too many self-inflicted wounds on our part. I think our average starting point, like on second down, was second and forever. You can’t really get a run game going when you’re always behind the stakes and getting off schedule. Today I thought we did a much better job of establishing our presence on first and second down, creating those manageable third downs. With those, we’ve got to convert. When we do get our first downs we did get rolling. I think we really need to get going and build a sense of urgency over on offense to capitalize on the opportunities, but for the most part, I thought for coming out, our goal was to not be behind the sticks. I think we did a pretty good job tonight.”

Falcons RB Quadree Ollison

(How do you feel like it went for you?) – “It felt good to get back out there. Really just trying to get my feet up underneath me. It’s been a long time since you know I’ve been tackled. Practice is obviously very different than the game. So just getting out there and getting the flow of a full speed NFL game again. It felt good. It felt really good. Obviously as always, there’s some things you can always get better at. But we’ll watch the tape and we’ll learn from it.”

(Coach, we were asking him, hey you know you run behind a second string line against their first string defense, how do you evaluate that? Or you’ve got to just go with what’s out there?) – “I think it’s good for the young guys to go out there against their starting defense. The experience is good for them. You know we were obviously matched up against them in practice for two days so it wasn’t like we hadn’t seen them or we didn’t know who they were or how they played. But I think it was good for those guys to really get out there and see what it feels like to go against the starting defensive line in this league. I really think they did well.”

(How was this entire week? You guys have been down here for quite a while. You take both of these practices in plus the game. Do you feel like you’re going home a better team or that you have a better idea of exactly where you guys are?) – “Absolutely. This is actually my first time doing a joint practice so for me and a lot of the guys it was new. But I do think we learned a lot about ourselves. Those practices are more competitive going against a different team and a different color. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re out there in those practices. So I really do think we came down here and we definitely got better this week as a team most definitely.”

(Quadree, what was the message from coaches? They gave you a lot of opportunity tonight. What was the message to you tonight in terms of that opportunity you were going to get?) – “I think the biggest thing is just wanting to see me out there. I missed the first preseason game. So just getting back out there, getting some touches and getting that flow of a game. You’re a little bit more tired. You’re getting multiple plays in a series. So just like really out there seeing if I can probably sustain a ten-play drive, eight-play drive, those type of things. And I think those where the type of things they were looking at.”

(What do you feel like you were able to show tonight and what are you trying to show the coaches throughout the rest of the preseason as they’re kind of determining what roles are going to be heading in the start of the regular season?) – “I think the biggest thing is honestly just keep getting better. Keep progressing. Obviously being really good on first and second down running the ball but also protecting third down and also catching out of the backfield. Doing a little bit of everything, those are the types of things that we all want to show. I think the biggest thing is definitely first, second down running the ball and third down, pass protecting and catching the ball out in the backfield for real.”

(And that’s something, we never want to see any kind of injury in the preseason at all. We’re waiting, Coach Arthur Smith said, to find out what happened to AJ McCarron, but how tough is that to deal with for you guys? How tough is it to bounce back and refocus when one of your guys is hurting that way?) – “It’s very tough. AJ is such a competitor and such a great teammate and such a great person. I don’t know the extent of what happened but I pray and hope he’s okay. He’s a great person. He’s even a better teammate and he brings something to that locker room. He’s a leader. He’s a guy that’s won a lot of games in his career. So he’s somebody that’s definitely helped me a lot. That’s helped a lot of the young guys a lot. So I hope he’s fine and I hope we get him back out there.”

Falcons RB Caleb Huntley

(… efficiently, but did it feel good to be able to pop on there at the end?) – “Yes, sir, it definitely did. Just to have a touchdown was just huge for me. The offensive line did a good job in responding after the first quarter and getting the run game going.”

(What did you see on that play? Was there a wide open space or did you have to make a move to get through it?) – “All I had to do was really just press the line of scrimmage, and the O-line did a good job of blocking off the back side to allow me to make a cut and get downfield.”

(How do you feel like you fit into what Falcons Head Coach Arthur Smith likes to do offensively? It seems like your kind of physical style and the way that you’re built really kind of meshes with what he likes to do?) – “For sure. I feel like it meshes well with the game plan. Whatever he asks us, we do. My job is just to do whatever he asks us to do. Whatever play is called, try to do a good job of doing it.”

(Seems like there’s a roster spot there for you if you can go out and earn it and kind of stand out. Is that how you’re going through this preseason? Are you really locked on and putting my best foot forward here…?) – “Just trying to go out there every day and give my best effort, and I know everything will fall into place at the end of the day with just 100 percent effort.”

(How do you feel like you were doing early on in the camp?) – “I feel I was doing a good job, trusting the blocking schemes and just pressing my holes. I definitely feel better. My mom even said so. That’s why I say that. Why I did a hell of a job.”

(How do you feel like you – what did you take away from this entire week’s experience? From the joint practices on to the game.) – “I took the experience of just coming together with my teammates just because I felt like we had a good camaraderie going on and we trusted each other, and we had a pretty good practice.”

(When you look at RB Javian Hawkins and now RB D’Onta Foreman’s there, it seems like there’s a lot of talent in that room. Do you feel like you’re kind of learning from everybody else during that process? Like what is that meeting room like?) – “It’s a good meeting room. We’ve got Mike (Davis), ‘CP’ (Cordarrelle Patterson), ‘Q’ (Qadree Ollison) – every day they’re us different things that we can use and giving the younger guys … so we as a whole can perform as well, so this is definitely a good group.”

Falcons S Richie Grant

(First of all, how did you feel it went tonight?) – “Hate to lose, but we learn the most when we lose, when we take a loss. I like the way we competed. We kept fighting, but obviously we want to come out on the other end of this. Like I said, as a team, we kept fighting, we kept punching through the end, and that’s all you want to see for your team.”

(You’re going to have highlights to take away, though. That fourth-down play, what did it mean for this defense? Especially you guys competing for roles, competing for spots, to get the stop in there on fourth down?) – “Oh, most definitely. We’re all competing for a job, so at the end of the day, we want to make the plays. I did make some in some crunch spots, but I grade myself really hard, so I think about the ones that I miss.”

(You guys are competing for spots. You were going against a lot of guys who have their spots locked down. What kind of experience was it for you guys as potential reserves, we’ll see, to go against all of or most of their starting unit?) – “It was good. They gave us good work. They came out fast, and they made some plays, and we gave up some plays. We did know we were going against the majority of the starters. We looked to that challenge. Like I said, we kept fighting to the end. So I’m proud of the guys for that.”

(What are you going to take away most this week from the practices and from the game?) – “I’d say just, really just improving like not taking a step back. We had a great week last week of just playing as a good defense and making sure each week we’re taking a step forward, not steps backwards. We’re going to just keep going in that direction. Just team defense overall is what I take away.”

(Coach Smith was up here talking about how these are reps you can’t replicate in a practice. What are the biggest things you’ve learned from your two game experiences now that you’re just not going to get on a practice field?) – “Guys are just hungry. We’re all competing for jobs. This is our livelihood now. It’s not college. You’re not in school. This is life now, so you can see people out there, special teams, defense, offense, everybody flying around just trying to get a job.”

(You were talking about always trying to make sure that you’re taking steps forward as a team. Do you feel like you’ve done that individually throughout the course of this camp and everything? You’re getting more comfortable. You keep taking steps forward. Is that what you’re seeing on tape? You’re seeing growth?) – “Yes, sir, but like I said, I did miss some plays out there, and I don’t want to do that to my defense. I feel like I’m letting the defense down. The vets, they stay on you. They make sure I’m seeing this and watching film. All of us young guys, we’ve all just got to come together and keep improving. Personally, I grade myself real hard. I try not to, but I end up thinking about the ones I missed just to make the defense a little better. Me being out there, I want to make those plays for those guys.”

(How tough was QB Tua Tagovailoa for you guys today?) – “Great quarterback. He came out fast. We got to make plays, wrap up, and be in the right spot on him. Great quarterback, though.”

(How hard is that? You all don’t tackle at practice, and then you’ve got to get out there and tackle them in games?) – “We do good work at practice. It’s just one of those nights where you got to get over that hump. We all knew it, and that’s part of learning. That’s what this preseason, as young guys, we’re fighting for a spot, that’s something that you’ve just got to learn and improve on in this week.”

(You’re hard on yourself, but are you seeing on tape that maybe you’re correcting mistakes like that you made? Do you feel like you’ve done a good job?) – “Yes, sir, taking more steps in a positive direction, but like I said, I do grade myself hard. So those ones I miss, I try to harp on them because, like I said, we are young, the guys out there playing, and we just want to be cohesive and look like vets. Vets always harp to get better each day. Find something little to get better each day. We try to listen to that.”

(You have a pretty good meeting room in terms of having that experience, and S Erik Harris and S Duron Harmon are pretty open in terms of dispensing advice. How beneficial has that been throughout this process to have not only one guy but two guys who are willing to come and share things?) – “More than two. We’ve got Fabian (Moreau), we’ve got Isaiah Oliver. We’ve got a lot of guys who have a lot of experience. They’ve seen good and seen bad. I love that being a young guy, all of us, we get to hear. We don’t have to go out there and make some of the mistakes they did. We get to hear that from them every single day. We got all that experience bottled up in one room, it’s great. Couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The Bow Tie Chronicles