2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Smith wants Falcons to clean up inconsistencies

By GEORGE HENRY - Associated Press
    2012-11-26 17:24

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Leading the NFC with a 10-1 record isn't nearly enough to satisfy Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith.

His team is playing too many close games and still making too many mistakes for Smith to say that Atlanta is one of the NFL's few elite teams.

He will only say that if the Falcons keep winning, they will put themselves in position to earn a top playoff seed.

Tight end Tony Gonzalez, the NFL's No. 2 career-leading receiver, agrees with his coach. Atlanta just escaped with a 24-23 victory at Tampa Bay, which had won four straight and five of six, but Gonzalez knows the Falcons still have plenty to prove.

``Everyone was saying they were the hottest team in the NFC South, and they probably were,'' Gonzalez said. ``To be honest, we could have played a little better, but when you win close games like that, it's only a positive.''

With just three days to prepare for Thursday night's home game against New Orleans, the Falcons want to clean up inconsistencies in the running game, red-zone offense and pass rush.

The Saints (5-6) are coming off a 10-point home loss to San Francisco, but Atlanta has lost 11 of its last 13 matchups against New Orleans and quarterback Drew Brees.

Not only did the Falcons suffer their first loss of the season three weeks ago at the Superdome; they did so by turning the ball over on downs late in the game from inside the 5-yard line. Atlanta also was forced to settle for two field goals in the red zone

Running back Michael Turner was held to 15 yards rushing on 13 carries while New Orleans' Chris Ivory gained 10 more yards on his 56-yard touchdown than the Falcons managed all day.

Since that loss, Atlanta has managed to squeak past Arizona despite five interceptions by quarterback Matt Ryan. With two more Ryan turnovers at Tampa Bay, the Falcons are now minus-7 in turnover margin the last two games.

But they have two wins to show for it.

Against the Buccaneers, Atlanta held powerful rookie running back Doug Martin to a season-low 2.4 yards per carry. Ryan and Julio Jones connected for an 80-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that wiped away Tampa Bay's second lead of the afternoon.

Michael Turner's 3-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter gave Atlanta the game's final lead, and Ryan's smart clock management consumed all but 8 seconds of the final 3:22 and all but secured the victory.

Though the last possession sputtered when Matt Bryant missed his second straight field-goal try - this one a 48-yarder - of the game, the Falcons still did enough right to sneak out of Tampa Bay with a big win.

A critical third-down pass from Ryan to Roddy White covered 8 yards and moved the chains to the Tampa Bay 37. One play later, the Bucs were forced to use their final timeout.

``We feel really good where we are at,'' White said. ``We've got a game coming up against the Saints on Thursday night and that's going to be a big one for us in the division. So we've got to move past this one and move on and get ready for the next game.''

Atlanta's declining turnover margin - the Falcons have created just two takeaways in their last five games - needs attention, too. Injuries to cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson are another concern.

But Gonzalez believes that the Falcons will follow Smith's lead and focus more on what they need to correct rather than what they've done well.

``It doesn't matter what your record is,'' Gonzalez said. ``You just want to be playing some good football come playoff time and right now we've got to hopefully put something together and try to get that home field advantage.''

---

Follow George Henry at www.twitter.com/georgehenryAP

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 17 08:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo's quick decision making and accuracy fit well with New England's playbook that includes quick-rhythm passes as part of the foundation, and Bucky Brooks [ More ]

Zach HockerMay 17 04:42p

The New Orleans Saints have signed free-agent PK Zach Hocker (Dolphins).

Joseph RandleMay 16 07:32p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has the skills to lead the team's backfield in 2015 but he'll need to work on his off-field issues, according to Jon Machota of [ More ]

Matt CasselMay 15 07:52p

Buffalo Bills QB Matt Cassel is likely to enter Week 1 of the season as the team's backup quarterback, in the opinion of The Buffalo News' Vic Carucci. He [ More ]

Santana MossMay 15 07:12p

Free-agent WR Santana Moss (Redskins) is not ready to hang up his cleats and retire this offseason. 'I'm a free agent right now, you know how they do [ More ]

Robert TurbinMay 14 05:32p

Seattle Seahawks RB Robert Turbin (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason, according to sources. No timetable was disclosed for his recovery.

Tom BradyMay 14 03:52p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has officially appealed his four-game suspension.

Greg SalasMay 13 02:23p

Free-agent WR Greg Salas (Jets) signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions Wednesday, May 13. Financial terms were not disclosed.

John ConnerMay 13 12:03p

Free-agent FB John Conner (Jets) signed with the Buffalo Bills Wednesday, May 13. FB Corey Knox was waived to make room for him.

Tom BradyMay 13 10:03a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension could be reduced significantly, and possibly overturned, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Brady has put together a renowned legal team to appeal his suspension.

D.J. SwearingerMay 12 05:22p

Free-agent SS D.J. Swearinger was officially claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tuesday, May 12.

Fred JacksonMay 12 03:13p

Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson may not make the final roster if the Bills end up keeping only three running backs, according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. RB LeSean [ More ]

Lance MooreMay 12 01:23p

Free-agent WR Lance Moore (Steelers) signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions.

Justin BlackmonMay 12 11:02a

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon was denied reinstatement by the NFL this offseason, according to The Associated Press' Mark Long. It's unclear whether Blackmon failed a drug test or [ More ]

Joseph RandleMay 12 10:42a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle could see the bulk of the carries as the season weighs on, in the opinion of beat writer Todd Archer. Archer pegged Randle for [ More ]

Jimmy GaroppoloMay 11 09:42p

New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to start while QB Tom Brady serves his suspension for 'DeflateGate'. Brady was suspended four games by the National Football League [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 11 07:12p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will appeal his four-game suspension, according to his agent.

Tom BradyMay 11 05:52p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has been suspended four games for his involvement in the deflated-football incident in the AFC Championship. In addition, the Patriots will lose their [ More ]

D.J. SwearingerMay 11 04:12p

Houston Texans SS D.J. Swearinger was officially released Monday, May 11.

Carey SpearMay 11 01:22p

Cleveland Browns PKs Travis Coons and Carey Spear will compete for the kicker job this offseason, and the competition is wide open at this point, according to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.

Garrett HartleyMay 11 01:12p

Cleveland Browns PK Garrett Hartley was released Monday, May 11.

Kyle ArringtonMay 11 10:32a

New England Patriots CB Kyle Arrington was released Monday, May 11, according to a source. The team left the door open for him to return.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group