Falcons’ Smith hoping to learn from playoff losses
Mike Smith wants his first two playoff losses with the Falcons
to be ”growing experiences” that will help his team prepare for
Sunday’s first-round game at the New York Giants.
With Smith in his first season as coach and Matt Ryan starting
as a rookie quarterback, the Falcons lost to Arizona in the first
round of the playoffs after the 2008 season. The Falcons had a
first-round bye last year before losing 48-21 to Green Bay.
Smith said it’s important the Falcons (10-6) learn from the
losses. He said based on those lessons he is planning tweaks to the
Falcons’ practice this week.
”I know we’ve had two postseason games prior to this,” Smith
said. ”We haven’t gotten the outcome we’ve wanted. We are learning
from those experiences. We’re going to use those as growing
experiences and we’re looking forward to competing this week, and
that’s not just Matt Ryan.
”That’s Mike Smith and every member of our team.”
The Falcons, who never enjoyed back-to-back winning seasons
before Smith’s arrival in 2008, now have four straight winning
seasons and the team’s first back-to-back playoff berths. The
obvious missing piece in Smith’s otherwise impressive record is a
Smith said he’s glad the Falcons, who capped their regular
season with Sunday’s 45-24 win over Tampa Bay, can move straight
into their playoff week.
”I think the way that it went down last year, I’d rather be up
this week and go ahead and play,” he said. ”That was one of the
things I don’t know that we handled as well as we should of, the
way that I structured it. I think if we get in that situation again
we’ll handle it a little bit differently.”
Smith said he also discussed other changes for this week.
”In our staff meeting today, I brought out the notebook in
terms of things we wrote down,” Smith said, referring to his notes
from the last two playoff games. ”You learn from everything that
you do in terms of how you prepare. In terms of the actual
scheduling, we’re not going to change that, but there are some
things we definitely are going to do a little bit
He wouldn’t provide details of his planned changes.
”Some things I’d rather not talk about in terms of subtle
changes in our installation and how we’re going to present things
to our football team,” he said.
The NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement strictly limits
the number of practices in full pads. Smith said the Falcons have
not worked out in full pads since Week 13. He said his players
could work in full pads in one practice this week.
”So it changes a little bit from what we’ve been doing in the
last six or seven weeks of the season,” he said.
The Falcons had four turnovers, including two interceptions by
Ryan, in last year’s playoff loss to Green Bay. They had three
turnovers, including Ryan’s two interceptions, in their 30-24 loss
”There was a common theme in terms of you can’t turn the
football over,” Smith said. ”That was the pressing thing.
”It’s no different than regular-season football, but we’ve got
to make sure that we have ball security. We cannot turn the ball
over in the postseason. It’s imperative.”
The Falcons led the Buccaneers 42-0 on Sunday before pulling
Ryan and other starters out of the game.
Ryan said the runaway win gave the offense momentum for the
”I think it kind of put us in a little bit of a rhythm,” Ryan
”We made the plays and that’s what we need to do moving
forward. I think everybody’s confidence is very high heading into
Notes: Smith said the Falcons have given the Jacksonville
Jaguars permission to interview offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey
for their head coach position. The interview is likely to take
place next week. ”I don’t have any doubt in my mind Mike’s sole
focus for this week is on the New York Giants,” Smith said. …
Linebacker Stephen Nicholas, held out of Sunday’s game with a toe
injury, worked on the practice field with trainers on Monday but is
doubtful for the Giants game, according to Smith.