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Mike Smith says Falcons need to change playoff approach

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Mike Smith has been the most successful regular season head coach in Falcons history.

He’s the first coach to have consecutive winning seasons (the streak now stands at four), the first to take them to consecutive playoff berths and his winning percentage is the best franchise history by a wide margin. The only thing Smith hasn’t been able to do is win a playoff game. The Falcons have lost their first playoff game three times under Smith, including last season’s one-sided 24-2 loss to the Giants.

In an interview with 790 The Zone in Atlanta, via SportsRadioInterviews.com, Smith said the team needs to alter their approach to come up with better results. And the first person who needs to make some changes is Smith himself.

“Well obviously we have to do it different than what we’ve done in the past. We’ve been there, we just haven’t been very successful. So it starts with me in evaluating how I prepare our football team, or we as a coaching staff prepare our football team. And believe me, we’ve done some soul searching. When you go to the places that we’ve been and not have the success that you want in those situations, it’s tough. And I know everybody’s disappointed, but nobody’s more disappointed than I am — I can assure you that.”

There have been a lot of things to blame about the team’s playoff losses, but the one common thread has been that Matt Ryan hasn’t played well in any of them. He had three turnovers in each of the first two losses and completed 24-of-41 passes against the Giants in a game that the Falcons led 2-0 in the second quarter.

Smith and the Falcons are wise to investigate every possible avenue to improve their results, but they won’t make much difference if Ryan doesn’t start playing better when they get to the postseason.

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27 Responses to “Mike Smith says Falcons need to change playoff approach”
  1. monosylab1k says: May 15, 2012 3:13 PM

    Well sure the Falcons will frame it as, “We’re good enough to beat anyone. We just need to find the right approach.” The reality is they just don’t have a great QB, team, or coach.

  2. trefkennedy says: May 15, 2012 3:15 PM

    Idg how Tony Romo gets lynched by everyone, “He can’t win a playoff game,he’s not a leader, he doesnt have “it” ” smh yet Matty Frost gets away with being utterly useless smh I bet if romo played for another team he’d never go through this

  3. richkotitte says: May 15, 2012 3:16 PM

    The approach should be to let your offense score too! As in more than 2!

  4. sbdt says: May 15, 2012 3:19 PM

    “Matty Ice”

  5. burm61 says: May 15, 2012 3:21 PM

    The Falcons are that team that are consistent but don’t have enough talent to get hot enough to win the Super Bowl and don’t have the killer instinct to finish big games.

  6. beckzhere says: May 15, 2012 3:32 PM

    I’m glad he takes some responsibility, because we seemed to be outcoached in those games. Sure Matt could have played better, but the coaches certainly need a fair share of the blame.

  7. franktherat96 says: May 15, 2012 3:39 PM

    New approach…score more then two points in a playoff game. Mike Smith is a genious….LOL. Face it Falcon Fans. With Melted Ice at QB you are going no where fast.

  8. northeastkiller says: May 15, 2012 3:39 PM

    Step 1 – Score more than 2 points.

    Step 2 – Realize that Matty Hype is just that – empty hype.

  9. elmaxoh says: May 15, 2012 3:41 PM

    I don’t get it … how can Matt Ryan lose with all thoses weapons around him …

  10. kayotiicdat says: May 15, 2012 3:41 PM

    Between Mike Smith just figuring this out and Matt Ryan deciding to get in shape the Failcants are complete joke from top to bottom. Have fun being the Saints personal punching bags.

  11. paulitik74 says: May 15, 2012 3:50 PM

    People can knock Matt Ryan all they want, some of it is deserved, but the Falcons offensive issues has always been Mike Mularkey and a subpar offensive line.

    An OC that refused to implement screen passes, obsessed with curls and out routes, mixed with one fo the worst pass blocking lines in the league and Matt Ryan should win an award for being as productive as he has been.

    It looks like the Falcons have addressed the Center and RG, let’s hopt the LT situation is addressed soon. Hopefully with the addition of Dirk Koetter and his vertical passing game will be just what the doctor ordered.

  12. dogluverssuck says: May 15, 2012 3:50 PM

    You mean like scoring more than 2 points in the playoffs or your qb throwing deeper than 20 yards down field?

  13. dirtybird70 says: May 15, 2012 3:51 PM

    Anyone that’s been paying attention to the Falcons will tell you that the OL has been putrid in both playoff appearances (GB and NY). Not to say that Ryan doesn’t need to improve in some areas and the “big games” in general, but not many QB’s do well when under instant pressure. Ryan takes a beating and all Atlanta has done in the offseason to fix that is add a new OL coach, a vet coming off a season ending injury (Manuwai) and 2 rookies. I think Pat Hill was a great addition but boy does he have his work cut out for him.

  14. dogluverssuck says: May 15, 2012 3:55 PM

    trefkennedy says:May 15, 2012 3:15 PM

    Idg how Tony Romo gets lynched by everyone, “He can’t win a playoff game,he’s not a leader, he doesnt have “it” ” smh yet Matty Frost gets away with being utterly useless smh I bet if romo played for another team he’d never go through this

    ____________________________-

    The answer to your question is quite obvious.

    There is no way the media would criticize the guy they labled the savior of the post Vick era. That would make them look ignorant. Ryan would be crucified if he wasn’t Vick’s replacement.

  15. dzor22 says: May 15, 2012 3:57 PM

    Ryan has ever called himself ‘matty ice’–thats the media. He and this team have come a long way since Petrino and dog boy. You haters need to start finding new excuses when this team does win these playoff games this year. Carolina can keep getting excited over not even making the playoffs as long as their QB gets his numbers. NO has its ‘excuse’ to SUCK now!

  16. brenenostler says: May 15, 2012 4:05 PM

    Suddenly Matt Ryan now sucks too. Along with Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Matt Scaub, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Mark Sanchez, and every other QB in the league besides Brady, Peyton, Eli, Rodgers, and Big Ben.

  17. SeenThisB4 says: May 15, 2012 4:09 PM

    Anyone who thinks that Atlanta’s playoff fortunes are going to change this year, is not seeing the whole picture. The problem with their team is their Head Coach and Starting QB. Until those two are gone, which is probably at the end of this season, they won’t be contenders. The Saints own them. Lock, stock and barrel. And inspite of the suspensions and penalties, the Saints are still the team to beat in the NFC South. The falcan’ts haven’t done a thing this off season to make themselves better, not a thing. They are about as stagnant as the Dead Sea.

  18. porklift says: May 15, 2012 4:25 PM

    Matt Ryan is simply not elite, and as we’ve seen time and time again, you can’t win without one.

  19. JohnnyTwoTimes says says: May 15, 2012 4:47 PM

    Between Philly, New York (N), San Fran, Green Bay, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago…….. they (ATL) have no shot at winning anything

  20. jason1980 says: May 15, 2012 5:47 PM

    Not only did they lose those three playoff games, they were beat like a prostitute who held back on him pimp, hah…..Their problem in addition to being in a division dominated by the powerhouse Saints, is that they need a QB, and an offense that can score points. Maybe this year, but they said that last season, and the season before that, and so on……….

  21. trefkennedy says: May 15, 2012 5:56 PM

    @dogluversucks I agree, he did help ATL when Vick got caught up, but it’s been 4 years, look at how during the 07-08 season, Romo only threw 1 int and was blamed for that lost, never mind Patrick Crayton couldn’t make those 2 catches, or the 09-2010 season when we had to play the Vikings and then when the o-line crumbled Romo suffered, never mind that we have an owner who insist on being a gm, which if that’s the case a smart gm would have been building our o-line back in 05-06, or 06-07 so by the time it’s 2009-2010 our o-line would be sturdy

  22. finfanjim says: May 15, 2012 10:48 PM

    Matty Ice was the comeback kid and clutch in college. That didn’t just go away.

    As a Dolphins fan, I’ve seen Mike Mularkey’s offenses at work. He is ultra-conservative and obsessed with the power running game. There are too many weapons on the Falcons offense to be so bad as they were against the Giants.

    Mularkey is gone. If Dirk Koetter has any innovation at all, they will be a successful playoff team next season…

  23. mannyicey says: May 15, 2012 10:58 PM

    Here’s the deal: Atlanta has weapons. Atlanta’s O-Line is Ok- not great, but not terrible either. And Matt Ryan is an OK quarterback.

    But Matt Ryan wishes to be Tom Brady when he grows up and he doesn’t play in Brady’s offense. So Matt Ryan checks down entirely too much. He’s easily rattled with the ball in his hands for more than “2-Mississippi.” He doesn’t like throwing the deep ball and the timing of it isn’t good. Oh, and the ball never really hits the WRs in stride in order to get good RAC numbers. It’s mostly balls where the WR would have to come back or stretch out to catch the ball.

    So if you really want a potent, high-powered offense, you must hit your receivers in stride. But the best throw that Matt Ryan makes is the Out, back-shoulder throw. So you see less and less RAC numbers, thus you have your problem on the offense.

    But the O-line protected Ryan pretty well.

  24. randallflagg52 says: May 16, 2012 4:00 AM

    I can’t believe Joe Flacco get so much hate from everyone, despite the fact his WR’s have cost him playoff games two seasons in a row. Ryan’s WR’s constantly bail him out and make him look far better than he actually is. Both put up near identical stats despite the fact the Ravens having inferior weapons and playing in the toughest division in football. Oh, and Flacco can actually score and play well in the playoffs (over 95 QB rating past 2 post seasons).

    And don’t blame Mularkey, because the Ravens have had to deal with Cam “I can use more than two recievers on a play”? Cameron for 4, going on 5 years now. So that is a moot point. Also don’t say Flacco has a better overall team than Ryan, because they were a 4 or 5 win team before Joe Cool showed up, McNair/Boller/Smith couldn’t win yet somehow Joe Cool does… Maybe because he’s actually not as bad as a QB as you all think.

  25. jus10jonez says: May 17, 2012 4:28 AM

    It’s funny how most of you think Ryan is a bad QB and Smith is a bad head coach but they have been the most successfull QB/HC combo in ATL, ever.

    4,200 passing yards is bad or mediocre? Are you kiddin me? In the ’10-’11 season Tom Brady threw for 3,900 yards. Does that make him bad or just mediocre?

  26. mannyicey says: May 17, 2012 7:34 AM

    Yeah, I agree with Jus10jonez…

    Matt Ryan isn’t a bad quarterback. He’s just mediocre-to-good in the regular season. I saw every pass he threw last year, many of them live. And what makes him only mediocre-to-good is that he only does or doesn’t do what I’ve written previously. He checks down too much.

    See, Mike Mularkey gives Matt Ryan the freedom to choose from a package of plays when they are called. And every pass play has at least three options: Option 1, Option 2 and Outlet. If Option 1 is a deep route and Option 2 are midrange passes while the outlet is, well, the outlet, Ryan discounts Option 1 if the WR is covered by only one defender.

    Now let me say this: As a former wideout- if I’m covered by one guy with no help coming from up top, I am OPEN! The wideout have to make the play! But Ryan would see them as not open and check it down.

    This is a pattern that may work in the regular season, but by the time you reach the postseason, you can defend against that really well. For instance, if you know that your Number 1 Option can be defended by one defender, you can defend with two on Option 2. Then you shut down his outlet via double team (mostly Tony Gonzalez) and make Ryan beat you doing something he doesn’t feel comfortable doing: Passing down the field in single-defender coverage and passing to the RBs.

    So what makes Matt Ryan problematic in the postseason isn’t his skills or abilities, it’s the fact that he’s predictable.

  27. randallflagg52 says: May 18, 2012 10:50 PM

    It’s funny how most of you think Ryan is a bad QB and Smith is a bad head coach but they have been the most successfull QB/HC combo in ATL, ever.

    ————————————————–

    That’s not say much…

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