DC Mike Smith Aims to Improve the Pass Defense: 'The Sky is Not Falling'

Sports Xchange

(On his takeaways from the first quarter of the season)

“I think the biggest is that every time we go out and play, we’re playing to win and that dynamic is different in every game. I think it was obvious in the first three game – not so much in the fourth game. We absolutely stunk from me down in the fourth games, but we did some things in the first three games that you can look forward and say, ‘Gosh-darn those guys – they’ve got a chance to do some things well.’ Overall, we have not done what we need to get done. I think there’s some young guys that have shown spurts of being good players. I think there’s been times when they’ve shown their youth. I think there’s times that we’ve shown that we’re able to put pressure on the quarterback and there’s other times it’s not. We’ve been an inconsistent group and really that’s frustrating as a coach because you don’t like to put the inconsistencies out on the field.”

(On what’s unique for him going against a team that he knows well)

“We’re familiar with this team because of the relationship I have with a few guys on that team. As you move down the road, it’s not as many guys. It is a challenge because they know us – or what we do – and we know what they do and they’re playing very well on offense. That offensive unit is definitely one of the top in the NFL, so it’s going to be a challenge for us. Matt [Ryan’s] throwing the ball extremely well. He knows where to go with the ball pre-snap, so we’ve got to make sure we do a good job of trying to disguise it. Again, that get to be a conundrum when you’re playing with some of the youthful players that we’re playing there in the secondary.”

(On Atlanta Falcon’s wide receiver Julio Jones playing big games against the Buccaneers)

“Julio’s had some big games against a lot of folks. I’ve been on both sides of it. He’s an outstanding wide receiver. He is a mismatch. He creates mismatches. They do a good job in moving him around. They don’t play him every snap. He’s not an every-down player. He’s going to play upwards of 75 percent of the snaps. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s got great hands and he’s got great zone awareness. He has a knack for sitting down in zones and then again playing him one-on-one and if Matt [Ryan] has got the time to the throw the ball, he’s going to put it in the tight spots – Julio’s going to catch it.”

(On how challenging it is to cover Julio Jones and wide receiver Calvin Riley)

“When you’ve got a guy on the other side that can stretch the field as well, it’s going to create issues. I think they are very good in their play-action game and that’s something that they do very well. That’s where they get their deep shots. When you’ve got two that can go down the field, it gets difficult to double cover both of those guys and be able to still be strong against the run because if you don’t stop them in the run, they’ll pound you with [Devonta] Freeman. He’s a very good back and so is [Tevin] Coleman.”

(On how defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has been)

“It’s amazing. Jason is such a competitive guy. We want to have a rotation and it’s hard to get him off the field because he wants to play every snap. It’s just amazing and he’s great with the younger guys. He’s a guy that likes to collaborate. He likes to talk about things and I think that’s good. I think that’s going to help us in the long run. Again, we’re four games in to it with this group and we’ve got new pieces and we’ve got pieces playing in different spots from week-to-week.”