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Q&A with Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith

            <span style="">Q: Can you sum up the way the season's gone for you guys?</span>                   

A: Obviously we haven't had the outcomes we would have liked. We started out fast and with a 4-1 record through our first five games and we've had some very tight games through this past week, the six games after the first five. We haven't' made plays when they've been presented to us and you have to make those big plays and those game-changing plays in this league if you're going to get the outcome you want.

Q: How is Matt Ryan's toe feeling and do you expect him to be able to go this week?

A: We haven't even been out on the field yet this morning. We will be going out this afternoon. We're going to see where Matt's at. Hopefully we'll have an idea as we get closer in the week. He has not been ruled out of the game for sure, but we're going to get our first real look at him today.

Q: Can you talk about Michael Turner and some of the injuries he had experienced and how that's hurt him. Had he seemed to have turned the corner before the injuries?

A: It's very unfortunate not only for Mike but for us to not have him out there because he's an integral part of our offense. He was really starting to hit his stride prior to the injury to his ankle. I know it has to be personally frustrating for Michael. Injuries are a fact in this league as we all know. Michael's working very, very hard to get back out as quick as possible. I know that he's working with our rehabilitation staff and we're hoping as the week progresses that he'll be able to contribute more on the practice field.

Q: What does facing the 12-0 Saints mean for you team?

A: We need to get a win. That's obviously and we don't really look at it as the 12-0 Saints. We always concern ourselves about us. It's really about us not our opponent, going out and playing the best we possibly can and going out and executing. It is a big game because it's a division game. I've been in the NFC South. Every game I've been involved with has been very closely contested and it's very competitive, so we're looking forward to going out and playing these guys in the Georgia Dome this week.

Q: Do you think you have to win out to make the playoffs?

A: We're not really talking about what we have to do as I told the team this week, really we changed divisions in once sense. We're not in the NFC South anymore. We're in the Wild Card division. It was a five game season. We didn't really get the outcome that we wanted this week. What we can do now is concern ourselves with this week. We're just going to go out and play week by week and see what happens. We don't want to say it's a must win because there's so many things that can happen over the next month and there's a lot of teams that are still on contention and there are a lot of teams that have to play each other. We're really taking it as this being the next game. We'll play it and move on to the next one and at the end we'll see where we end up.

Q: If Chris Redman plays rather than Matt Ryan, how much did he grow last week?

A: I think that Chris got to experience some things in the game against Philadelphia. The only way you get an opportunity to experience them as to do it in a live situation and I think it was a good learning experience for Chris. It's been 27 games since he played. He went through his first full week of preparation knowing he was going to be the starter, so I think it was a very good learning experience for him.

Q: Does it make it easier for him to prepare this week?

A: Most definitely in terms of his prepation if he's the guy that's going to take the snaps, it should bode well for him, because he did it last week. We're going to be making that decision very soon.

Q: What kind of addition has Tony Gonzalez been?

A: Tony's been a big addition to us. Last week, he broke the single season receptions record for tight ends for the Atlanta Falcons, so he's been a big addition. He did it in 12 games. Not only what he brings on the field and off the field, Tony is a consummate pro. He's a great influence on our younger players, not only the offense players and the receivers, but everybody on our team. I've never seen anybody work so hard when he steps on the field. This is a guy who's been in the league for 13 years, has been to a number of Pro Bowls, probably is going to be a Hall of Fame tight end. When he steps out on that field to work at practice, that's what he does.

Q: Does he have a few years left in him?

A: Gosh, I hope more than that. His chronological age, whatever it is at 33 or 34. His body is a lot younger than that. It's just a matter of how long Tony wants to play.

Q: Besides Drew Brees, what makes that offense so hard to defend?

A: They've got a lot of weapons and it starts with Drew. Drew's throwing the ball so effectively he's in such a good rhythm with all of his wide receivers. To see some of the throws that they've been able to make this season is unbelievable. He's the guy that directs that offense, but they have so many weapons, not only at the receiving position, meaning the tight end and the wide receivers, but their running game has been very good. The numbers that they're putting up are just staggering when you look at the points per game and yards per game and I think they're rushing the ball very effectively at almost 4.6 yards per rush. That says they're doing that effectively as well. They're not just a passing team. They're a complete offense. They put stress on you from the first snap to the last.

Q: Can you talk about the matchup between Jermon Bushrod and John Abraham?

A: They did a nice job in protecting the quarterback when we played down there on Monday night. John Abraham has through the years been one of the most outstanding rushers in the league. We certainly hope that John can get going. John has gotten a lot of attention since we've been here with chip presence and things like that. People have done a really good job in trying to make sure John doesn't get a whole lot of one on one opportunities regardless of who he's rushing against.

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