Smith: Falcons need to be more efficient

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
9:11
AM ET
Late Tuesday afternoon, Atlanta Falcons coordinators Dirk Koetter and Mike Nolan will answer questions about what adjustments need to be made in preparation for the New England Patriots on Sunday night.

Koetter is sure to discuss his offense’s problems in the red zone, while Nolan will have to explain why his defense deteriorated on the final drive in a 27-23 loss to the Dolphins.

Monday, Falcons coach Mike Smith did his best to absorb some of the blame, at least from an offensive standpoint. While discussing his team’s 2-for-5 red zone effort against the Dolphins, Smith pointed to no one other than himself.

[+] EnlargeMike Smith
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsFalcons coach Mike Smith pointed the finger at himself for the team's red zone efficiency woes.
"The responsibility goes to me,’’ Smith said. "It doesn’t go to the quarterback. It doesn’t go to the offensive line. It doesn’t go to the offensive coordinator. It’s my responsibility, as the head coach, to make sure that we are more efficient in the red zone. And I can assure you that that is something that will be addressed.’’

The Falcons are 6-of-12 in red zone efficiency through three games.

"Last year, through the season, we were 10th in the league in red zone efficiency,’’ Smith said. "And I believe, through three games under a small sample, right now we are 24th in the league. We would like to be in the top 10 in the league.’’

Here’s what else Smith had to say while reflecting on the loss:

  • On the defense giving up the game-winning touchdown after a 13-play, 75-yard drive by the Dolphins: "You’ve got to play tighter coverage. You don’t want to play soft coverage. You want to get up there and challenge the receivers. ... There were a number of plays on that drive that we weren’t as tight as we needed to be in our coverage. When you don’t challenge them, you’re going to give them third-and-3s and third-and-4s. ... You’ve got to get up and play press coverage. You can’t be off, or they’re going to convert that.’’
  • On the contribution of the rookies: "It’s a learning curve for our young players. I thought that they did a good job yesterday. There were a number of positives in that football game. We have a lot young guys out there playing and they stepped up and made plays and made it a close ballgame.’’
  • On whether Nolan made conservative defensive calls with the number of rookies in the lineup: "Absolutely not. Again, we’ve got to go out and execute. We did not execute in those situations.’’
  • On the offensive line: "In terms of sacks, we were more efficient. We had [Matt Ryan] hit too many times there, especially in the second half of the ballgame. There were a couple of hits that forced him to get the ball out of his hands quicker than he wanted to.’’
  • On new right tackle Jeremy Trueblood: "First game, I thought that he got tired. His first really significant playing time. It was our third game. It was his first game in quite some time.’’
  • On being outscored 48-24 in the second half this season: "We’re not executing in the second half of football games. The numbers state that. We’ve got to be more efficient. We’ve got to be more efficient as coaches. We’ve got to be more efficient as players. ... And I think it’s very important that we focus on finishing the specific play. Let’s not focus on finishing the game. Let’s take it each play is a game. That’s how we have to approach this.’’
  • On tackling: "We did not tackle as crisply as we needed to, especially in the secondary on the explosive run that led to the first score. ... We were not as efficient as a team -- not strictly to one individual -- but we were not as efficient as a team as we needed to be in tackling. Our last line of defense, we’ve got to be more efficient.’’
  • On kicking the field goal on fourth-and-1 from the 2: "There were discussions that if we got the ball inside 1 yard. When we saw the distance that we needed, it was closer to 2 yards. It felt like, right before the half, that it was important that we get points. Obviously, we didn’t think we were going to give up a two-minute drive right after that."

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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