FALCONS HEAD COACH MIKE SMITH
(on if he is tired of being asked about the fourth down decision to go for it last week)
Guys I moved on long ago, I can assure you that. Our focus since Monday afternoon has been getting ready for Coach (Mike) Munchak's team and he has them playing very well.
(on if the Titan's different game plan against the Panthers makes it more difficult to prepare for them this week)
Well I don't know if it makes it more of a challenge, they were very successful especially on third down against Carolina. I thought they did a very good job of mixing things up, they were very multiple and when you see that multiplicity from a defense it always concerns the offense because it's just more volume of work that they have to do to prepare.
(on the Titans playing four rookies at once on the defense)
Well it says a lot about that rookie class that there are some good football players and it says a lot about coach (Jerry) Gray and his staff to be able to be that multiple with four young players.
(on the Titans secondary play and Cortland Finnegan moving to the nickel position)
Well he is such a competitive guy that whether he lines up at corner or he lines up at the nickel spot, you are going to know that you are going to have to be on top of your game because he is one of the most competitive guys that plays the game. I think he has adjusted well to line up inside and I think down the road it will give them flexibility in terms of how they want to put their defense together because we definitely know he can line up outside as well.
(on his memories from his days at Tennessee Tech)
Well the mid-state, I spent a lot of time there and I really enjoyed living there. Cookeville is a great place but if you wanted to go to the big city you always went to Nashville. Nashville is a great city and I have very fond memories of living there in Middle Tennessee.
(on if he thought he would be an NFL head coach when he was a coach at Tennessee Tech)
My philosophy has always been to be focused on the job that I had and try to do the best that you can. I have been very fortunate to be around some very good coaches and some very good players. When you win games and have some success you get opportunities. I am very fortunate to be have been able to work with good players and work with good coaches.
(on any specific memories of games or incidents at Tennessee Tech)
Oh gosh yes, there were a number of games. There was always the good battle against the team that was down in Murfreesboro. I remember those games, I remember the OVC as a very competitive conference. Probably the thing that I remember most is working with the people like Jim Ragland and Mike Hennagan on that staff.
(on what Julio Jones adds to that offense)
Julio (Jones) is a very talented football player and he has been a very good addition to our offense. What he allows us to do is to have more options. He can create situations where he can make his plays but it also opens up plays for Tony (Gonzalez), and Roddy (White), and Harry (Douglas) and Michael Turner. I think that's the thing that you want to have on your offensive team. You want to have as many weapons as possible where as a defensive coach you are sitting there and going, 'OK, I have got to try to do something to stop this guy. I have to do something to stop this guy,' and before you know it you run out of players to try to stop somebody and you are going to get a mismatch or you are going to get a matchup that you like.
(on if he expected more offensive production than he has gotten so far)
Well I think that we have been very inconsistent as a football team, not just the offense through the first nine games, in all three phases. I think there have been points during games that we have operated very effectively and I think everybody in our building realizes that consistency is key to having success in the NFL. It's such a fine line because every team has players with ability and it's really not all about ability, it's about sustainability and you have to be consistent be able to sustain your level of play. That's probably the thing that has been the biggest issue for us is we have not been as consistent as we would like to be.
(on the offensive line play since the injury to Sam Baker)
Well I think the offensive line has progressed as the season has gone on. We were not protecting the quarterback very well in the first couple of ball games and I think we have gotten those resolved. We have been much better at protecting our quarterback and we are very fortunate to have a guy like Will Svitek that can come in when our starting left tackle goes down and still be able to play effectively and efficiently.
(on what Will Svitek has* done well in pass protection)*
Well Will (Svitek) is a competitor. Playing left tackle in the NFL is not an easy draw. Most weeks you are getting the top pass rusher from your opposing team and the thing that I really like about Will is he has the ability to play both left and right tackle. You have to be cross trained but when he has gone out there he is really a passionate guy and really competes not only in pass protection but in the run game as well.
(on both teams needing to win to keep pace with their division leaders)
I know that both teams have the same record and at least our focus is that this is the most important game until the next one. There are so many dynamics that take place during a season from week to week in the NFL and things can change so drastically from one week to the next. For us anyways, I know our focus is only on trying to get back on the winning ways and Mike (Munchak) and his staff are wanting to say, 'hey, let's put a string together and start putting a streak together.' To me that's the way you have to approach it. You have to put the last game behind you whether you win or lose and try to be consistent and focus on the next opponent. I can assure you this, I have been very impressed with what Mike and his staffs have done through these first nine games.
(on if Chris Johnson looked like he was back on track against Carolina)
He looked like a guy that can rush for 2,000 yards in this league, which we know that this guy can do because he has done it one time in the last three years. He was very impressive in the ball game against Carolina. We know what he is capable of doing and he really showed his talent in the ball game there in Carolina.
(on what he knows about Mike Munchak)
I know having to prepare for him that he is going to have his team ready. When I was the defensive coordinator there in Jacksonville we had some battles. When I was an assistant in Baltimore we had some battles. Mike (Munchak) always has his teams ready to go and you can see that he always wants to control the line of scrimmage and he does a great job of having his team ready to play. I have watched all nine games so far this season and I don't believe that there is a game that they weren't ready to go.
(on if he makes it back to Middle Tennessee often)
Occasionally, I have a couple of fishing holes up there that I like to get back and visit. It's probably once or twice a year.
(on if he is impressed that Matt Hasselbeck has been able to come to a new team and have success quickly)
It doesn't surprise me one bit. We faced Matt Hasselbeck last year when he was at Seattle, we played out in Seattle. Matt (Hasselbeck) is a veteran, been to a Pro Bowl, I think he has a very good understanding of the game of football. He knows how to distribute the ball and he is doing a really good job this season.