Tuesday the Falcons will have another round of “Falcons on Falcons” practice, before they start preparing for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. On Monday, head coach Mike Smith addressed the media for the first time since he gave the players the weekend off last Thursday.
During this Monday press conference, Mike Smith continued his theme of taking the blame for the way the team has played up to this point of the 2013 regular season. So far, the Falcons are (1-4) with three of those losses to teams in the AFC East.
“We’ve done nothing and I’ll repeat nothing consistently in the first five games,” Smith said. “That’s offense, that’s defense, that special teams, and that is coaching. That is something that has to get fixed and we have to be much better at being a consistent football team.”
One area on the field that Mike Smith has pointed to all season is the defense’s inability to get off the field on third downs.
“We’ve got to put better pressure on the quarterback,” Smith said. “We can’t let the quarterback stand in there and be comfortable. We must play tighter coverage.”
So far this regular season, the Falcons are the worst team in the NFL in terms of third down conversion percentage. Teams have converted 50 percent of their third downs against the Falcons. The total number is 33 out of 66 times those offense’s have been able to keep their drives alive.
Smith also pointed to the fact the team has to get better at controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. That is something that he says starts with both offensive/defensive lines. This is a point of emphasis he wanted to make a staple for this football team when he took over back in 2008.
“I think both sides have been highly scrutinized, I think there has been some improvement in some areas,” Smith said. “But, it hasn’t been steady (improvement) as we need it to be on both sides of the football.”
Mike Smith did voice his satisfaction with the defense’s performance against the run so far through five games this season. However he did say the team really needs to improve against the pass. The numbers back up his thoughts as well. Right now the team is 25th in the NFL against the pass and sixth against the run.
When the Falcons do start preparing for the Buccaneers, they’ll see a team that is currently giving up about 103 yards a game in the running game and just under 248 yards passing. That puts them in the middle of the pack in terms of the rest of the league in both categories. Plus, this Falcons team is facing their second straight rookie QB in Mike Glennon, out of North Carolina State. Glennon has started two games so far this season, after being named the starter over Josh Freeman. He’s so far completed 58 percent of his passes to throw for 466 yards on three touchdowns and three interceptions. His favorite target so far has been tight end Timothy Wright for 12 catches and 132 yards in the two games they’ve played together.
On the injury front, Mike Smith would not get into the prospects of players like running back Steven Jackson’s chances to return this week. The team will practice tomorrow, yet won’t have an official injury report until Wednesday.