The past is just that – in the past.
That’s the response from Atlanta head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan when asked about the team’s one-and-done playoff exits since Smith took over as the team’s head coach in 2008.
“You learn from all of your experiences, whether they’re positive or negative,” Smith said. “And it’s something that we’ve evaluated. But once you get into the season, it really has no bearing. You make the adjustments that you feel like you need to make, and you go through the preparation like you normally do.
“And in our preparation last week, we earned the right to have the bye week. We approached it with a little more workload than we have in the past, and now we’re on to game preparation. So what’s happened in the past really is going to have no bearing on what’s going to happen.”
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Added Ryan: “There’s really no sense in worrying about what happened in the past. I think you learn from it. You make adjustments. You try and use it in a positive light. We talk about it all the time – what you did the week before, what you did the year before has no bearing on what you do the next time out.”
Ryan said one of the adjustment his team made is the Falcons approached the bye week differently than in 2010, getting more work in last week and doing some self scouting.
“We were in here the entire week,” Ryan said. “And we were working and staying in that rhythm. And I think that helped us.”
Predictably, Smith spoke highly of the Seahawks in general, and Seattle’s defense in particular.
“It’s very impressive up front,” Smith said. “They’ve got some very physical guys, and I think it starts with the two inside guys in (Alan) Branch and (Brandon) Mebane – they do a nice job. And Red Bryant is a big, physical player.
“I’ve been impressed with the speed of their linebackers, they can run. And I think it’s arguably the best duo at the cornerback position in the league this year. They’re big, long physical football players. And then the safeties, they’ve got a big one in (Kam) Chancellor. He’s a big, physical football player. And then Earl Thomas has great speed, makes a lot of plays on the football.”
Smith mentioned for him the thing the stands out over the last nine games for Seattle is the team’s turnover margin. The Seahawks are No. 1 in the league at +16 turnover differential according to Smith.
“They do a great job of taking the ball away,” Smith said. “And that will be a big challenge for us.”
Ryan said one of the things that makes Seattle tough defensively is they stick to what they do best, regardless of the opponent.
“They player their scheme well, and they don’t deviate from it,” Ryan said. “Those guys know that defense inside and out. And it allows them to play fast.”