TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
Obviously, a great team win for us in the preseason, it is always nice to win no matter when it is. We came out against a good football team and I thought the defense early (they) got some yards, but we held them to field goals, field goal tries. We did a great job on third downs which allowed the offense, we had a little slow start the first couple of series with the turnover. Then all of sudden we did a great job and it is 7-6. We are in the game and we have momentum. We won a lot of situations, won third down, won the red zone, we won the two-minute drills at the end of the half and we held them and then we scored a field goal to finish the half. So, a lot of good things there to finish the game in the four-minute which was good also. A lot of things we hadn’t been as consistent with in the first couple of weeks all came together tonight, so that was good to see
I think he just made some great throws. I thought the guys dropped the ball last week, and we were doing some things we normally wouldn’t do. Kenny (Britt) had some nice catches, Nate (Washington), spread it around pretty well, (Justin) Hunter, (
(on if the pass rush demonstrated tonight what is needed in the regular season)
We got a feel of what they were doing after that first drive. We were able to get some pressure with the guys up front. I think there (were) five sacks among the starting group which was good to see. You could see the confidence growing as we started getting stops, getting the quarterback. That is what we were hoping to see, also. That’s what we were hoping to be able to do. I thought the linebackers did a good of bringing pressure also.
(on if Michael Preston’s play makes for tough roster decisions)
You want those kindS of tough decisions. You want guys playing well like that like he has been. He has gotten better every year since he has been here. He was working at it. He makes some decisions tough, but again it was good to see him go out there and make plays. He plays special teams also. He’s done a nice job.
He did. Like we talked, we were never really concerned with it. It was just a matter that it’s something people aren’t used to seeing—him missing two field goals less than 40 yards, because usually they’re chip shots for him. It’s good to see him—I thought he had a good week. I think it refocuses you when things don’t go your way, when you don’t make a kick or you don’t make the play. I think he had a good week of work, and it showed tonight. He made two nice kicks. The one before halftime was a big one because again, if he misses that field goal, even though they only have 28 seconds they have the ball at the 45-yard line. They have a chance to get three on us, and the momentum of the game changes dramatically there.
We didn’t bring him in until that second quarter, Tommie (Campbell) didn’t come in. I thought Tommie, from what I could see again…that’s a hard position to watch unless you see the obvious plays. It looked like Tommie was aggressive. It looked like Tommie played pretty solid. They have some good receivers out there, so they’re going to make some plays on us here and there. I thought overall, Tommie looked good. It’s just a matter of watching the tape.
You just have to be careful. It’s hard, you want that in your defense. You say you don’t have that, people are looking for it. Now when you get a penalty, you run that fine line of wanting aggressiveness, wanting physical play, but not to have a 15-yard penalty. He knows that. He’s very aware of that. I didn’t see the play, how it worked out, but we’ll look at that on tape. He knows he’s got to be careful. He’s a smart enough player to know how to prevent that. He has to be able to do that because those kind of penalties aided to a drive. Luckily they just ended up with three points. We have to be smart with those things.
Neither one of those (
(on how important it is to walk out of the stadium with a victory)
I think it’s just good to win, preseason or not. The guys played into the third quarter on both sides, so you got kind of a real feel of where we’re at — still a lot different than the regular season, we know that. It gives positive energy when you leave the field, for the fans, too, I think to see something that we talked about. You want them to see glimpses of hopefully what they’re going to see once the regular season starts, the type of plays we feel we can make on offense, on defense, on special teams. You saw some of that. You saw a step up with the sacks. People are always wondering about pressure, how we get pressure. Tonight, we had six sacks against a good group. Running the football, I think we ran for 170 yards tonight. We converted all our third-and-ones and third-and-twos. I think Jake (Locker) played as good as he’s played in the half. A lot of good things, we got off the field on third down, just a lot of things that looked good. That’s what you need to do in preseason to build momentum for the regular season. It’s a good win. It’s a much needed win. It’s showing that we’re heading in the right direction.
TITANS QB JAKE LOCKER
(on finding his rhythm during the game)
I thought we did a good job with play calling. (They called) things that allowed us to find some open receivers and get the ball in their hand and make some explosive passes downfield.
(on the play during which he fumbled)
You have to protect the ball. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked. I guess it looked bad. It didn’t hurt that bad. Obviously, at that point you have to take care of it (the ball) and I think, “If I hold onto it, we get the first down and the drive continues.” So there’s a big swing in that.
(on the shift that occurred following the first series)
We really did a good job of mixing up the run and the pass play action. I thought we did a really good job up front. The pocket was really, really clean, allowing me the opportunity to step up and step into throws and deliver them with confidence. That makes a big difference.
(on if the 134.9 rating affected his confidence)
We won. That’s all I care about. It was how we wanted to play. We came out and executed. We were able to continually move the ball and stack completions together. I think any time you’re able to do that, you give yourself a lot better of a chance of having the outcome we did tonight. That’s what you shoot for always.
(on tonight’s pass game)
Especially there in that second quarter, the play-action game…they really had to respect that. It opened some running lanes up and we were able to bust some big runs there in the second quarter and in the third. We played off of each other very well today and that’s something that we hope to be able to continue to do going forward.
He (Ryan Fitzpatrick) played really well and was able to come in and have two big plays right off the bat there. That play was a great design. Justin did a good job on his assignment, was able to really find himself pretty open in the end zone. Ryan gave him a good ball and a good way to start the second half for them. That’s just an example of Justin (Hunter) growing and understanding his role in this offense.
(on Justin Hunter’s touchdown play being similar to that of Nate Washington earlier in the game)
Not the same play, the same design, same idea. (They were) very similar.
(on the offensive line’s play)
I thought they did a great job. That group of guys works well together. The pocket was clean. I felt really comfortable back there all day. We did well in the running game. It’s encouraging going forward.
(on the importance of tonight’s win for the team)
Everybody in that locker room is a competitor or they wouldn’t be here. You’re lying when you say you don’t really care whether you win or lose. It always feels better when you go home knowing you won the game, even though at the end of the year, these games aren’t on your win-loss column. It’s always better to go home a winner.
TITANS RB CHRIS JOHNSON
(on the importance of the win)
That’s kind of important. You really don’t want to go into the regular season with a loss. Anytime we come in here and play a good team like the Falcons, getting a win hopefully can give us some momentum going into the regular season.
(on Jake Locker’s performance)
Just real poised and making great decisions. When he was looking downfield and saw it wasn’t there, he was using his legs. That’s something I know that the coaching staff wants out of him instead of making crazy decisions if it’s not there. He’s athletic enough to run the field and try and get the first down.
(on the offensive line’s performance)
They’ve been doing pretty good all preseason. Like I said earlier in the week, we just want to continue to get better and better every week through practicing and then when we come out here on game day, try to get better, too. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.
(on the defense making big stops)
Basically, it’s a momentum switch around. We got great field position and the momentum just helped us try to go down and put more points on the board .
TITANS LT MICHAEL ROOS
(on if it’s good to get the first win of the preseason)
It is. It’s preseason so they don’t matter but it’s nice to get a win and you still want to win. It makes you feel better about yourself, especially when you do some things well that you can build off of it even more.
(on what he thinks they did well tonight)
Well at the end of the half we had the two-minute drill. The defense stopped them and got us the ball back and we were able to go down there and get three points so that’s really good. Stuff like that becomes huge in the regular season when you can go into halftime with momentum and points.
(on if the offense got a lift by the defense holding them to field goals early)
You do. We were a little slow the first drive or two and then they held them when they got into the red zone, and that gave us the confidence to go out there and continue what we were doing and go out there to start working on drives.
TITANS G ANDY LEVITRE
(on having a good mix on offence)
We did start out pretty slow but we stuck to the game plan and we thought coming into the game that we had a pretty good game plan set for us. It’s too bad that it took us a couple of drives to get going, but it ended up working out for us.
(on the defense playing well)
Yeah, we talked about that last week. We didn’t too well on third down on both sides of the ball so on that aspect we wanted to do well and in the red zone for both sides as well. We wanted to make an emphasis in all phases of the game rather than just certain parts of it. I think today was a good indicator of what we can do.
TITANS WR NATE WASHINGTON
(on getting going on offense after a couple of series)
It’s all preparation. It’s a different type of preparation when you are going into a third week of the preseason. It’s a little more film watching, a little more game planning. Of course it doesn’t compare to the regular season, but at the same time we took a little more time out to evaluate the opponent and that’s what we did tonight. We knew there was going to be a couple of things that we could run against the Falcons so we just had to come in and take our opportunities.
(on if Jake Locker looked more ‘crisp’ than he has in a long time)
Jake (Locker) has always been crisp to me. I think now he’s just getting more comfortable. It’s just a matter of him coming in every week and making sure we are on the same page so that we answer the call when he is there.
(on the injury and if he thinks he will miss practice)
It wasn’t my ankle, it was my foot. I’m alright…I doubt it. If I do it will just be because they hold me out, but I doubt it.
TITANS WR MIKE PRESTON
(on having a great game tonight)
It feels great. I think I made some plays when I had my opportunities. I think as an offense we performed well. I think we got out to a slow start but we picked it up and all of the receivers got around to making plays.
(on offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains coming into the rookie locker room to shake his hand after the game)
It feels awesome. When I came in he was already here but not the OC (offensive coordinator) yet. He has seen me work hard so I know it means a lot to him to see how far I have come and he just wanted to come in and give me some congratulations and I appreciate that.
(on if he made the team tonight)
That’s not my decision to be made. Like I have said before, we have one more game left so I want to stay consistent and keep on progressing.
(on if he is moving in the right direction towards making the team after another touchdown tonight)
Absolutely, you have to keep making plays when your number is called and keep that progression going. You want to be your best at week 16, that’s when you want to level off. I just want to keep doing things right and headed in the right direction.
(on his touchdown and staying in)
My length helps me do that so I can reach out for the ball and still be able to drag my toes. I was kind of skeptical if I got it down or not so I was checking on the sideline with a lot of people to make sure. Once they gave me the touchdown it felt very good.
(on the long pass completion)
You know what, (Ryan) Fitzpatrick dropped back and gave me a great ball. It got in my hands and as soon as I got tackled I ran back and I apologized to my linemen because I am supposed to get them off the field. We are going to keep working like I said and next time I am going to make sure to get it into the end zone so those guys can get some rest.
(on just working hard)
Absolutely, I think I am just a blue-chip collar guy. I don’t need the attention on me. That will come in due time like I say. All I have to do is keep working hard when the cameras are on me and make sure I am consistent so there is no drop off.
TITANS WR JUSTIN HUNTER
(on his play today)
The sky is the limit now so hopefully I will have more chances to do that. I just can’t wait until next week.
(on his touchdown catch)
When they called my number I was a little nervous in the beginning because I knew it was coming to me. Nate (Washington) scored on the exact same play I did so I saw how it was going to play out and he threw it to me.
(on improving every day)
It feels like everything is falling into place now. Coach is easing up a little bit, somewhat. I am learning all of the plays and the different positions and everything, so things are starting to go really well.
TITANS DE DERRICK MORGAN
(on tonight’s victory)
We are ready to go out there and play when it counts. This was good work today against a good football team. This is a good game to build confidence.
(on the defense’s focus)
We had an emphasis going into this game to get after the quarterback and disrupt the passer and give us a chance. We know Atlanta has a really explosive offense. The secondary gave us a chance to get back there and gave us time to get back there and disrupt it.
(on gaining confidence)
You don’t want to get overconfident. It’s really just only a half. We’ve got to learn to start fast and finish games. Tonight was a good step forward into the right direction and something that we look to build off of.
(on the defense holding its own in the first half)
I think we did a good job in reacting to adversity with the field position, holding them to three points. We’ve talked about that when the field changes, a sudden change, we’ve got to hold them to three. We did a good job at doing that.
TITANS DT JURRELL CASEY
(on limiting the run game)
We wanted to hold guys to two yards a carry. You don’t want to give up more than that because they are making it too hard of a game, where they can just pound it down your throat. You never want to be in that situation. You want to get to the quarterback as much as possible. In order to get to the quarterback, you have to stop them on first and second downs. That makes the game much easier.
(on what the team needs to do to stop the run)
We’ve still got a lot to work on. He still was out there carrying that rock. No matter what we’ve still got to keep on getting better. We are never going to be happy until we reach our goals in stopping the run. And stopping the run is not giving up anything.
(on the ability to pressure the quarterback)
I give credit to our DBs. Without the DBs, we can’t get to the quarterback. They did a great job covering tonight, giving us time to get to the quarterback. We started off slow up front then as soon as our DBs clicked on. It turned up the heat for us up front and we got our opportunities to get to their quarterback.
(on the defensive line pressuring the quarterback)
Every time it was all four of us almost around the quarterback getting to him. We’ve been working hard in practice in trying to get to the quarterback. We’ve all got goals in breaking records this year. In order to get that done, we’ve got to all help each other out. We all have been working as a unit. It’s great when you have everybody around you to make things much easier.
TITANS S MICHAEL GRIFFIN
(on the defense limiting Atlanta’s offense in the first half)
We started out a little slow. When we got to the red zone, we just picked it up. One of our goals is don’t allow any touchdowns. We stopped them in the red zone. The offense turned the ball over. We were back in the same situation and only gave up a field goal. You got to give credit to the D-line, the corners, the nickels – all of them did a good job today.
(on how stopping Atlanta in the redzone builds confidence)
It helps to build confidence. You go back to watch the film. There might be some spots here and there. When the rush is getting there and the blitz is getting there, it’s a great day for the secondary. When the secondary is covering, it gives the rush a little more time to get to the quarterback. Today was working hand-in-hand. Jerry Gray was calling a good game plan. Everything went in hand-in-hand.
(on the progress of the defense through three preseason games)
Last week, we were missing tackles and were giving up touchdowns. Today, we stopped them and were giving up field goals. Again, if we can get to the point where we are not giving up the yardage and they are not getting in scoring position, it makes us even better. It takes time. We’ve still got two weeks ahead of us to prepare for our season opener at Pittsburgh.
FALCONS HEAD COACH MIKE SMITH
Tonight, I don’t feel like we played up to our standards in truly any phase of the game. We felt like we got off to a fairly good start moving the football. We can’t settle for field goals down there in the red zone. Then we ended up missing a field goal. So I think collectively we have a whole lot of work to do over the next 14 days. Many of the mistakes we made are correctable like always. We just did not play up to our standard tonight in many, many phases. A lot of young guys out there that got an opportunity to go through some learning lessons and it doesn’t feel good right now but it will help us in the future.
(on the play of the offensive line and the sacks they gave up)
We gave up way too many sacks and way too many pressures on the quarterback. It wasn’t necessarily mental. I think it was a technique thing. Again until we watch the tape I am not going to be able to tell you exactly what happened but it looked like it was more technique than mental errors. They did hit our quarterback too many times with some of their add-on blitzes. We have got to get that fixed.
(on Brian Banks’ performance so far)
Brian has done a nice job. He’s a guy that has not played football 10 years so his learning curve has got to be accelerated and I think he has done a nice job. He shows a lot of resilience. He has come a long way and it will be interesting to see what happens over the next five or six days. He will get a chance to play more snaps than he played tonight. He just got a handful of snaps in the game tonight.
(on losing momentum in the first half)
Well we didn’t convert red-zone possessions into touchdowns. That can’t be a momentum stopper. We’ve just got to keep going out and playing and making plays. Again, I don’t think we did a whole lot well tonight in the ball game in terms of offense, defense and special teams. I would say maybe special teams was a little bit better than the other two phases.
(on injuries to CB Asante Samuel and DT Peria Jerry)
Well, Asante did not come back. It was reported during the game that it was a quad injury and Peria Jerry was back on the sideline and was cleared by the doctors to go back out with his injury, but at that point in time we had already moved down to our second group.
(on K Matt Bryant)
We did not plan on kicking Matt (Bryant) this week. That was part of the plan. There were three guys that did not play in the game. Matt was one of them. We anticipate that Matt will be full speed, ready to go. We wanted to rest him, we wanted to look at (Jeremy) Shelley. I thought that he did a nice job, although, he did miss the one field goal. He came in and did a good job for us. I don’t think we kicked the ball off as well as we needed to. Matt missed a couple of them that normally would’ve been seven-eight deep and we had some short kicks, but I thought that the coverage units did a nice job of compensating for those kicks.
(on satisfaction with tonight’s game)
Oh gosh. That the game’s over. I think we did some things in the kicking game where we showed improvement. We have not done as well as we would’ve liked to on some of our protection and punt coverage. I think we did a nice job there. I thought we were close to breaking a punt return, so I think there was some things on special teams that we’re learning to take as a positive. You can’t have plays that stall drives, you can’t have penalties that stall drives, again, we had way too many penalties, I think we had seven penalties in the ball game. We had a procedural penalty on a couple of occasions, those things just shouldn’t happen. We’ve got a lot of things to work on, but I know that this group of men in the locker room, they’re ready to go. We know what our number one goal is and that’s to be as prepared as we possibly can for the opening game there in New Orleans.
(on preparation for the first game of the regular season)
Our whole thought process as a staff and as an organization is that we’re preparing for the regular season. It’s a marathon, it’s a long season and we didn’t play up to our standards tonight, but there’s a lot of learning experiences out there for these young players and some of our older players as well.
(on performance by LB Sean Weatherspoon and TE Tony Gonzalez)
I thought that Tony did a nice job out there. I think Spoon was doing a nice job with the defense in terms of signals and getting us into the right defenses. The scoring drive there in the first half was way too quick, I believe it was five plays and 64 yards, that was way too quick. They completed three quick passes and had two runs, an explosive run of 19 yards, so that was way too quick for what we would like to do. We want to force people to take the ball the long way and not score that quickly.
(on the difficult decisions of cuts)
Can this move from 90 to 75? Albeit it is difficult, it is not nearly as difficult as what takes place when we go down to our 53. I think this is fairly, when I say fairly, it’s never easy, but it’s fairly clear what we have to do. When we go down to 53those are some very difficult decisions. There’s a lot of young men that have worked their tails off for us since April that are not going to be on the team next week when we play on Thursday. So, it’s always a tough time.
FALCONS QB MATT RYAN
(on the first team offense)
It was kind of a mixed bag tonight. We did some things really well. The first couple of drives we moved the ball up and down the field really well. A couple of things stick out to me – production in the red zone. We have to be better. That is something that we have got to improve on and work hard on in the next two weeks so that we hit the ground running when we get to the regular season. And then overall execution I think needs to be better across the board. We just need to play better than we did tonight.
(on running back Steven Jackson and tight end Tony Gonzalez)
Steven [Jackson] is a great player. I think he ran the ball really effectively tonight early on. We have seen the last couple of weeks that he has been extremely productive. He’s a great teammate, a great worker, fun to be around and a really good leader. Tony [Gonzalez] is a guy that we know what he is capable of doing. He’s been here for the last four years and coming into his fifth season with us. I’m excited about those two guys. They are going to be a lot of fun to play with and I think it will help our football team a lot.
(on the offensive weapons)
We have some weapons. We have some guys that are capable of making plays. As we move forward to the regular season we have to think about executing a little bit better together than we have. We have done some really good things, but we have made too many mistakes. That is what happens sometimes in the preseason. We are going to have to iron out those details and make sure we are doing what we are capable of doing when the regular season starts.
(on the performance of the offense in the red zone)
I think it is one of those things that we are going to have to look at the film and evaluate things we did well and things we didn’t do well. I think I have got to be a little better in giving guys good opportunities to make plays with the ball in their hands. That is just kind of my initial take, but after we watch the film and get a better feel for it we’ll know what we need to work on and try and do that in the next couple of weeks.
(on the importance of the next two weeks of practice)
They are huge. I am a big believer in preparation. That is, to me, the formula for success. You have to prepare really well. We have an opportunity this week with three practices before we play Jacksonville again. During those three practices we have to get better. We have to go out there and we have to work. We have to sure up some of our timing and work on protections and do all of those things that we can do to become a better football team. So I think the mindset has to be that we have to have a great week of practice.
FALCONS QB DOMINIQUE DAVIS
(on his overall performance)
I feel like I did some good things. I did some stuff that I need to correct, but overall I did some good things. I’ll get in the film room tomorrow and make those corrections.
(on his role behind Matt Ryan)
I am just going to continue to work hard and keep making plays and try to cut down on the mistakes that I have made and let the rest fall into place from there.
(on learning from a veteran like Matt Ryan)
It feels great. Even from my freshman year in college, watching how he works and his preparation and his leadership. I just try to follow his same footsteps.
FALCONS TE TONY GONZALEZ
(on how tonight went for him on a personal level)
Personally? I felt good. Obviously, there’s room for improvement—there always is, I’ve only been back four days, or whatever it is. I am improving my wind, I wasn’t winded, but I can get better. I can explode off the line of scrimmage, everything can improve. I like where I’m at having missed most of camp, but we’ve got another week of practice and then we have to get ready for the Saints.
(on if he wants to play in the final preseason game)
No. (Laughs) I never play in the fourth. I don’t think the other guys are going to go, but if they go then, yeah, I’ll go out there. I haven’t done it traditionally.
(on if getting a catch on the second play of the game helped him get comfortable)
I was happy with it. Just that, ‘he’s still got it’ I guess—that I can go out there and get open. It’s football and I’ve been happy with my progress since I’ve been back. I take a little pride knowing that I wanted to do it. That was part of the plan. I took care of myself during those two weeks that I wasn’t here, going out there and conditioning and working out and preparing. Preparing myself for when I got back to hit the ground running, I didn’t want to let my teammates down—I didn’t want to let myself down.
(on the message after tonight’s performance)
We’ve got to play better; no doubt about it. That’s the good thing about it, it’s just a preseason game. It is a dress rehearsal, we have to play better, we see some weaknesses that we have and we’ll improve on them and we’ll get them right. We have to, we have no choice, we’re too good of a football team. I know our guys take a lot of pride in what we do.
FALCONS LT SAM BAKER
(on the offense getting into the red zone and having to settle for field goals)
That’s why we go to practice, and that’s why we watch the tape, that’s why we come to work every day and that’s to correct those things. We’re not satisfied with that, we know we can play better than that and we’re going to go back to work.
FALCONS RB STEVEN JACKSON
(on how he feels now that he’s been with the Falcons for three preseason games)
Each and every week I am getting more comfortable with the offense. The way things are happening, the way the offensive line is blocking on certain plays, so more repetition, more time to get together—the better I’ll feel.
(on if they have some things to work on offensively)
Yeah, we definitely have to work on our red zone offense a little bit more. We’re putting together drives, but as a unit we have to learn how to finish them.
(on how important practices are moving forward with the starters expected to sit out the majority of the last preseason game)
Tomorrow marks 14 days before the season opener. We have to take advantage of all practice opportunities, different looks that we’re expecting to see going into the season and just continue to execute the offense.
(on if playing for a team with a winning culture makes a significant difference)
It definitely makes coming to work a little easier when you have guys around you who expect to execute and expect to have excellence day in and day out. That makes for guys who want to come in, work hard and push each other.