Seahawks Insider

Smith on Hawks: Special teams playing at elite level

Post by Eric Williams on Dec. 15, 2010 at 11:31 am with 6 Comments »
December 15, 2010 11:31 am
Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith (John Bazemore/AP).

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith talked about the usual suspects when asked to assess the team he will be facing this week in Seattle, naming guys like Earl Thomas, Chris Clemons, Matt Hasselbeck, Marshawn Lynch and Marcus Trufant as players his team needed to prepare for.

But more than anything, Smith said his team needs to be prepared for return specialist Leon Washington, who is becoming this team’s MVP candidate because of his momentum-changing plays each week.

“I think the most impressive thing that stands out to me is the play of your special teams,” Smith said. “Leon Washington is someone that we’ve have got to make sure that we account for, not only on kickoffs. … He also has done a great job, I think over 18 yards on punt returns.

“They block field goals. They block punts. I think their special teams is something that they are playing at an elite level right now.”

Listen to a snippet of our conversation with Smith here.

[wpaudio url="http://blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/files/2010/12/MikeSmith.mp3" text=MP3: Mike Smith audio"]

Smith said one of the reasons for his team’s success is because he believes they play in the most competitive division in the league, year in and year out.

Hard to argue that, with the Falcons at 11-2, New Orleans at 10-3 and Tampa at 8-5 and Carolina out of the running at 1-12.

“I’m biased, but I think it’s the most competitive division year in and year out,” he said. “This is such a competitive division. I think the proximity of the teams geographically makes it so. But right now the New Orleans Saints, they are the Super Bowl champs and will be continue to be that until we crown a new one. And I think they are a team that everybody has looked up this season because they are the defending champs. And I think competition brings out the best in all of us, and having them in our division definitely helps us, and ramps up our competition level.”

Smith said a couple things that he has built his football team around is being physical, playing smart and winning the fourth quarter.

“Statistically we know that around half the games are going to be decided by eight points or less,” Smith said. “And about 25 percent are going to be decided by three points or less.”

Seven of Atlanta’s 11 victories have been by seven points or less.

Smith said with his team on a seven-game winning streak and facing New Orleans in two weeks, that Atlanta is focused on Seattle.

“From the very beginning we’ve stated that the most important game is the next game,” he said. “We don’t look beyond down the road. We try to keep it very segmented in the process of our preparation. And Seattle is a darn good football team that is fighting for a playoff spot.”

Smith went to say that his team needs to be ready to deal with the crowd noise, and that the Seahawks are a different team when they play at home.

One of the reasons Atlanta has been so tough to stop offensively is because of their balance. Running back Michael Turner is fourth in the league in rushing with 1,174 yards. And receiver Roddy White leads the league with 99 receptions for 1,219 yards and seven touchdowns, so teams have to pick your poison.

“We’re balanced all the way around,” White said. “We can run the football. We can throw it, and that’s just given defenses so much difficulty. When the come and bring the eight guys down in the box and they play a lot of single-high, we’re making plays on the outside, me and Michael Jenkins. And if you play Cover-2 we hand the ball off to Mike (Turner).”

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Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. hawkfan777 says:

    It is good to see other coaches focused on something that the Hawks do well. We just need Leon Washington to score 3 touchdowns this week.

  2. Audible stated on a previous topics post:
    “What if they take it all? Everyone loves a David and Goliath Story. What if we beat the Patriots in NE in the AFC Championship? The odds of that happening are much better than winning the lottery, and those scenarios that make some games unforgettable.”

    I think you actually would have a better chance winning the lottery then that scenerio playing out.

    Sorry, I just read that and couldn’t resist.

  3. I want the Hawks to win, but I’m tired of everyone else talkin’ shit and making fun of them. If they make the playoffs, who will they play, NO, Philly or NY. We already saw what the Giants did to us up here, if Philly rolls our way, Vick will destroy us, and if its the Saints then, I’m thinking thats our best shot, but even then if will probably be horrendous. Oh well, I’m doubting we even get in, for some reason I’m seeing the niners doing it, but thats a bitch too, listening to those F’ers talk their shit. Anyways, I will be at this game Hawked out, I guess we’ll see what happens.

  4. The shit talkin’ will get out of hand if we get blown out in the playoffs. I know some are already numb to it, but it still pisses me off.

  5. Seahawkgo says:

    Mike Smith does not care about O and D teams :)

  6. After watching this team closely the last 3 years with 3 different coaches one thing stands out to me. Momentum. When the momentum swings Seattle’s way they usually win, whether it be close or a blowout. I don’t see it is lack of effort, skill, or experience or injuries. i notice that the Seahwaks live and die with the momentum of a game. Once it swings in their favor early they rarely let another team back in the game with a chance to win. But if it swings the other way it is usually disasterous for the Hawks.

    Not that our team gives up physically or effort-wise but mentally they kind of get the “oh-no we are behind or something bad has happened, we can’t recover” . for some reasononce things do not go according to plan they usually fall apart whether it is the 1st quarter or 2 min to go in the 4th. it is strange. I am not sure how you teach momentum (sorry for typing it some many times). But i see other teams avoid that panic and hang in there. Ever since Holgrem’s last year and last year and even this year i notice it…

    any way, just a thought….

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