Keith (Smith) always getting a good block for me, man. Every time I score, Keith is always in the mix. Honestly, the offensive line, they did a heck of a job today, man. Coach, he pointed out all week, we need to do better in the run game. We all took it to heart. And offensive line, they came in. They really did. They showed what they really can do.
Talking through your scores, looks like you swung the first one wide and then the second one was some power it looked like.
With that blocking, man, how could I not score? Like I said, offensive line, they did a heck of a job. And Keith Smith, man, the best fullback in the game. He’s always showing up, always making that key block for us.
How much do you feel this offense looks different when are you in it?
I wouldn’t say different, man. I’m a big part of this offense. That’s a no brainer, man. I mean, outside looking in, you can see that. Like I told you before, I love it here. I love when I’m out there on the field. I love competing. I love having fun. That’s just something I’m always doing. When I’m out there, man, I’m going to give it my all. I just love it.
Pregame you wore cleats honoring Ahmaud Arbery. What went into your decision to do that? Just walk me through your feelings.
I’m pretty sure we all seen what happened. I mean, I just got to show my respect to his family, man, and that shit was - that stuff was tragic. That could have been my son just jogging down the street. People just pull up on him and kill him. That’s something we’ve got to deal with every day, man. Unfortunately, we do. That’s the part of life. It’s -- you know, this football stuff really doesn’t mean stuff because we got so much going on outside. People don’t understand. They just think we’re football players. We’re human too. We always got a target on our back. Every time -- we’ve just got to be careful, man. Just got to do the right thing and just always try and get home safe, man, because our family depend on us. I got kids, a girl, you know. They’re always making sure we’re safe. And like I said, unfortunately, that had to happen, man. I’m sorry for him and his family. I just had to honor him wearing his cleats.
You said that this week there was an emphasis on we need to run the ball better. What did that look like and sound like? Was it just, hey, we need to run the ball better? Was it a challenge issued to you guys?
Honestly, when Arthur (Smith) say something, we take it to heart. You know how Art can be sometimes. Love him to death, but we all know how he gets. When Art say something, he’s the head dog in charge. We’re going to go out and execute it. This whole week we’ve been talking about the run game since Wednesday all the way up to Sunday. We made it a big target for us to go in and just run the ball and just do what we do. We know we can do it. We’ve just all got to get together and work together. Running back got to get the right track. Offensive line got to get their blocking. We’ve just got to trust the offensive line they’re going to get the job done.
For those of us that don’t know how he gets, does that mean like animated angry or what does it look -- we only see him behind the microphone?
I’ve never seen him angry. He’s the best man in the world.
After your second touchdown, I don’t know if you remember exactly what you said, but you were pointing at the ground running up to Mike Davis. It looked like you were saying like this is my house or something like that?
I said, ‘This is my (stuff).’ Honestly. I just love football, man. I’m so emotional out on the field, man. I just say a lot of things I probably don’t mean; just having fun like I say. I’m a kid at heart, man. You can’t take that away from me. I’m having fun. I’m smiling. I’m joking. It’s just fun to me, man. I just love this game.
You said, you know, we know we can do it. We know we can run the ball. We just needed to do it together. Do you feel like today specifically that first half was a prime example of doing that?
That first half, sure. We probably had over 100 some rushing yards in the first half. That just shows you, we put our mind to it, we can’t be stopped. We’ve just got to keep building that confidence each and every week. It starts at practice on Wednesday. Just keep building that confidence and that faith that we trust each other. We’re just going to build that chemistry and just get the job done.
Multiple times this season you talked about special teams being your thing. How hard is that not being on kick return today? Arthur said that was your call that he kind of left it to you. What was it like not returning kicks?
It was hard. You know, special teams is my bread and butter. That’s something I’ve been doing my whole career. I would never give it up. Today, man, I just had to focus on what coach wanted me to focus on. And that’s just what it is. Like I say, I’m going to do whatever coach needs me to do. That’s just the kind of guy I am. If he needs me to return the kick, I’ll go out there and return the kick.
Do you see yourself in more of this type of role going forward or do you want to get back to returning kicks?
I want to be in any role that’s going to help this team win.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER DANTE FOWLER JR.
What was it like being back here, man?
Just treat it like another away game. Just wanted to come down here and handle business, which we did. Got the W. Ready to go back home now.
When you get the sack, is there something emotional in that for you, considering what you’ve gone through here?
No. It just felt good to come back and get a sack in Jacksonville for sure.
How about the defense, Dante, you know, closing out the game? Got a couple stops there late to get the W.
It felt good for us to go out there and close out the game like that. I think we was playing pretty good throughout the whole game. And when it was a clutch moment time, and time for us to stand up, we did that.
What were some of the things that you guys have been getting better the last couple games? It looks like unit’s coming together. … Are you sensing that too?
Yeah. I think we’re just playing together as a unit, you know, just doing our jobs, everybody doing their jobs, not trying to do something special, just doing what you’re supposed to do and doing that 100 percent.
On your sack, I think they shifted a few guys to (Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett). How much does playing with Grady kind of free you up sometimes to be you and do what you want to do?
Yeah. Same thing for me too so -- whenever we get opportunities to win one-on- ones, we try to do it.
Was Trevor Lawrence – it looked like a couple times you were real close to getting him again and then he slipped away?
Yeah. Just got to do a better job of getting him down. He’s athletic and a strong, long guy, so I’ve just got to make the best of my opportunities when I get there.
The energy that (Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson) provides, the offensive guys were talking about. Does that bleed over to the defense as well?
Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, for sure. You know, his runs, the runs that he does and things like that, that’s really cool. Gets us going, and you know, be ready to go out there and play.
(Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan) talked about a minute ago, about (there being) six games to go. What are the things that you’re seeing that tell you this team is on the upswing, is building toward the stretch run?
I just think we’re coming together and playing as a team. The team we have is built to play as a team. So I think guys are doing that and getting more confidence. Our rookies are getting confidence throughout the year. They’re getting a lot of reps. So I think you’re starting to see guys playing with confidence and swagger and just playing together as a team.
You guys haven’t given up many touchdowns in the last couple of games. What has been the key to keeping teams out of the endzone
Just playing together as a unit, everybody doing their job and being on one accord.
Was there anything, like, when you came in today, did you see people that you knew in the past? Like were there people that --
Yeah. Anybody that was on the team in Jacksonville when I was there, it was good to see them.
So there was not much extra emotion?
I didn’t care to see anybody else. If you didn’t play with me in-between the white lines, I didn’t care to see you, honestly. But it was good to see, you know, the guys that I played on the team with and almost, you know, went to championships and almost went to a Super Bowl with. So it was cool.
CORNERBACK A.J. TERRELL
How did it feel for the defensive unit to be able to close out the game here and get off the field there a couple times late in the game?
: Just going out there and playing a complete game and just getting it done in the fourth quarter, (we’re) just hanging our hat on that.
What were some of the keys keeping Trevor Lawrence under control?
Just hats off to Trevor [Lawrence], you already know that. (He’s a) great quarterback. But defensively, we just played as a unit this week, just came together as one. Everybody just did their job and came out with a W.
When you went out briefly again, what happened there?
(It was) just something happened with my shoulder, just came down on it and that was it. (It was) just something that was hurting for a second. (I) came back in and just finished the game.
How did Mykal Walker play? I know it was a tough spot having to get out there and start with Deion Jones out.
Yeah.Just being ready. You know, next man up, next man up mindset. He was ready. He had a good practice all week and just came out and did his job, helped us get the W.
Has the defensive unit grown over the last few games?
Yeah. Just something that we focus in on every week [is] just not beating ourselves in a winning situation in the football, playing as one, playing as a unit.
The fact that you faced Trevor Lawrence so often in college on a day-to-day basis, does that help you early on in a game potentially or at all because you know him?
You know, me and Trevor, we had our battles at Clemson, whether it be in practice or whatever. But, you know, Trevor, like I said, (is a) good quarterback, very instinctive and just decisive with all his passes. The ball’s going to get rolling over here, so he good.
Did it help that you saw him so many times?
I haven’t played him in so long. I’ve never been really against him for real live situations, so that was my first rodeo. You know, it is what it is.
Matt Ryan was saying that he thinks the best football for you guys is still in front of you. Do a lot of you guys feel that way?
Just the heart of the team, just everything we do. You know, we try to be meaningful, just come in, whether it be in meetings, in practice, just trying to focus in on details and understand that we’ve still got to race for the playoffs and just not getting complacent. (We’re) just staying on ten toes the whole time.
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter
FULLBACK KEITH SMITH
Cordarrelle told us that (Arthur Smith) said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get the running game going this week.’ How did you feel about it today, running for 150?
It feels good. It feels good when your plan works and I think that’s just what we did as a team. We were kind of intentional all week in just making sure we were on top of the details, especially in the run game, and it panned out for us.
On the 12-yard touchdown run, could you walk us through that play and your role in that play?
It was just a regular lead play. You know, just everybody kind of did their job. I guess my block kind of stands out more because I’m kind of at the point of attack. But it was the guys across the line that were driving their guys back and, you know, made it easy for (Cordarrelle Patterson).
Coach was saying that we’ve got to stay with it. He fully believed you all could run it. How did you all stay, you know, with it and attacking it until you were able to get it going like this?
I think it’s just being intentional and understanding what we’ve done thus far. I think we left a lot on the bone this season and I think that’s just kind of what we’re diligent about doing moving forward is kind of getting all that we can get.
How has this offense changed with Cordarrelle on the field?
It’s -- I mean, you know, CP’s dynamic. He does everything. It just gives you a lot more options. It changes the look for the defense, especially because they got to worry about a running back being in a receiver spot and all the places that he plays. But, you know, CP kind of -- CP brings energy too. When he’s out there, it’s contagious. And you see it out there when he’s out there.
How does he bring that energy? What does he do?
Watch his highlights.
Is he saying stuff or -- ?
I mean, CP is always a positive dude. I think he’s always about uplifting his teammates. It’s not only an example, but he is contagious as far as encouraging others.
Can you give us an idea how much Arthur emphasized the running game this week and how he emphasized it?
A ton. He just kind of showed us a lot of the stuff that we were capable of and what we’ve done this year and just things that we could build off of.
The Bow Tie Chronicles
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Atlanta Falcons schedule and scores
Eagles 32, Falcons 6
Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25
Falcons 17, Giants 14
Washington 34, Falcons 30
Falcons 27, Jets 20
Falcons 30, Dolphins 28
Panthers 19, Falcons 13
Falcons 27, Saints 25
Cowboys 43, Falcons 3
Patriots 25, Falcons 0
Falcons 21, Jaguars 14
Next four games
Tampa Bay at Falcons, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5
Falcons at Carolina, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12
Falcons at San Francisco, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19
Detroit Lions at Falcons, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26