Head Coach Doug Marrone

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Q: Injuries?

A: Scott Berchtold: Did not participate in practice: Chris Gragg with the knee, Mike Williams with the calf, Da’Norris Searcy with the hamstring, Mario Williams because of illness and Chris Hairston because of illness. Limited participation: Dan Carpenter with the groin, Stefan Charles with the quad and Jarius Wynn with the knee.

Q: How does this game differ with Aaron Rodgers versus Peyton Manning?

A: Obviously, they’re both great quarterbacks and Rodgers is probably playing as well as anybody in the league has been playing this year. I think the dimension that he brings – not only can he make all the throws, but he can extend plays two ways. Obviously, he has unbelievable pocket presence. He knows when to leave the pocket and run. He’s an outstanding athlete and he also can break the pocket and still make all the throws vertically down the field, while keeping his eyes down the field. He’s the same type of quarterback [as Peyton], meaning they’re both great quarterbacks and probably going to be in the Hall of Fame, but there’s a little different dimension to what he brings.

Q: Do you take some comfort in knowing that your defense kept Peyton Manning in check? 

A: Our defense has done a good job all year. It’s a challenge for them. It’s a challenge for our offense to make sure that we’re able to score. That’s the big challenge, along with field position with our special teams group. Defensively, we’ve won some battles and we’ve lost some battles. Those guys will be able to compete and go out there. We’ll be ready. It’s a big game.

Q: You say Kyle Orton gives you the best chance to win. Will that change next week?

A: No, not for me, unless it changes for somebody else.

Q: If you’re 7-8 do you think Orton will give you the best chance to win?

A: Every week I’m going to make that decision and if I get to 7-8 I’ll make that decision, but right now I will play Kyle Orton because he gives us the best chance to win now.

Q: What does that mean in regards to your thoughts on EJ Manuel?

A: We’ll just keep progressing and keep bringing him along.

Q: What do you mean by saying ‘for somebody else’?

A: If you’re asking me, personally, my decision is that he’s going to play. If you ask somebody else, they might tell you something different.

Q: Isn’t it your decision?

A: That’s correct.

Q: I know you don’t like to look ahead, but what are you going to do next year. I could see you, in six months, coming out and telling us that EJ is the franchise quarterback without playing.

A: That’s your opinion, right? I respect your opinion.

Q: Does it make things difficult for the franchise?

A: I will say this. My job, right now, is to win a football game and that’s how I see it. I’m doing the best job I can to win a football game, plain and simple.

Q: What does Eddie Lacy do to enhancing Aaron Rodgers’ game? 

A: I think they’ve been playing both running backs. They complement each other well with two different styles. They’ve got a good one-two punch working back there. They have a big physical back that can run and make a lot of people miss. The other one is obviously quick, can run and get the ball outside. They’ve got a good combination. I think they’re the top-ranked team in all of the ratings.

Q: How serious is Mario Williams’ illness?

A: I think it’s the same symptoms we had last week with the two players.

Q: Will he be back at practice tomorrow?

A: I think it’s the same symptoms we had last week with the two players. How they react to it, I hope it’s the same.

Q: With Clay Matthews now playing inside and outside, what problems does that present?

A: He plays inside and outside, even though they said he moves in. Inside allows him to make plays from sideline to sideline. Outside, from the pass rush standpoint, it gives him half a field. I think they’re doing a good job of moving him around and putting him in the best position to defend whatever offense they’re going against.

Q: Did the Falcons show you anything that you can use to attack the Packers defense?

A: I think we look at five or six past games. We look at everything to see how it is. Situationally, what’s going on, who’s playing, what the matchups are coverage-wise and see if things change. You try to look at that stuff and try to learn what other teams are doing and what they’re successful with and you try to implement it in what you’re doing.

Q: What’s the biggest reason for things not working out for Mike Williams this year? 

A: I think Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins.

Q: Robert Woods said you guys sat back and weren’t aggressive enough in the first half against Denver. Your thoughts?

A: Robert said that? I’ll have to talk to Robert about that. I’m surprised he wouldn’t come and tell me.

Q: Where is your level of frustration with Jerry Hughes, in regard to the unsportsmanlike conduct?

A: My level is still about making sure that he does things to help our team win. We’ve had discussions with him. Jim [Schwartz] has had discussions with him. I think Jerry understands that and he has to do a better job with it.

Q: Do you think he’s on the same page with you on that? 

A: I hope I’m on the same page with everyone on the team, because that’s been an issue with everybody, not just Jerry.

Q: Did you clear up the miscommunication you had with Pepper Johnson? 

A: Yeah. Yeah. I told the coaches that I trust them and what decisions they make. They just have to make sure that I’m aware of it when it comes to substitutions of players. I don’t substitute players and if we deviate from the play prior to, then I need to know so when I come to a press conference, I can answer those questions.

Q: Last home game of the season.

A: It’s a big game. It’s a big game for us. It’s like a playoff game for us. We’ve got to win.

Q: How has EJ developed since he was benched?

A: He’s progressing. That’s how I would put it.

Q: How did Jarius Wynn look in his first practice back?

A: Limited, but I think he’ll progress as we go along. Not sure. We’ll come out later with how we are during the week.

Q: What were your thoughts about Fred winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year award? 

A: It’s outstanding. Everyone knows that Fred has done an outstanding job with the community since he’s been here; even prior to when we arrived. Fred represents what a lot of players on this team are doing in the community. It’s an honor for Fred to receive that award. He’s been a good spokesman for the organization. He’s been great for the region.

QB Kyle Orton

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Q: I’m sure you got a chance to watch the Monday Night game a little bit here, Kyle.  Are you encouraged by what you saw the Falcons’ receivers here do knowing that you have comparable talent here in your locker room?
A: Yeah, you know we’d love to get going in the passing game and obviously in the second half, Atlanta was able to do some good things against them and ran good routes and their quarterback played well so we need to go out and replicate that and move the ball and score some points.

Q: Speaking of your receivers, just the emergence of Chris Hogan this year.  Just from where he was at the start of the season to now and the kind of plays he’s making for you guys.  Can you just talk about the growth that you’ve seen in him this season?

A: Yeah.  I think just a guy that was finally given a chance to get on the field and play and he’s certainly made the most of it.  He’s a good route runner.  He’s a physical route runner.  He’s got good size to play in the middle and has good feet so as much as he can improve, it’s going to really help our offense on third down and in the red zone.

Q: Doug Marrone has put his faith in you and says that you give this team the best chance to win.  Your thoughts on moving forward and what might be on the offense and your shoulders going into this weekend after some inconsistencies?
A: We just have to play well.  I think really all year, we go out for a drive or go out and play for a quarter and really move the ball well and go up and down the field so I think that’s just been our focus and it’s been our goal to do it for four quarters and we’re going to have to do it this week.

Q: You guys have had some pretty highly anticipated home games this year and now you get one last chance against a team that’s been a budding Super Bowl favorite. 

A: Yeah, we have a great task ahead of us.. We’re going to have to play three-phase football to beat this team and we’re excited to do it in front of our fans.

Q: Is there a realization that this is the last chance playoff wise?
A: I guess our focus is just to win this week.  To win a game against a very good team and any time you get out of that focus, you’re just hurting yourself.  We’ve done a good job all year of just staying week to week and we’ll have to do that this week.  Can’t waste any time, any emotions on what’s in the future.  It’s just what do we have to do this week to beat a really good football team.

Q: Some of your offensive teammates have expressed some regret in feeling that maybe they’ve let the defense down in not being able to finish.  Do you share those emotions that you might’ve let the defense down?

A:  It’s a team football game.  We’re 7-6 or whatever we are right now because that’s what the team’s done to get to that point.  Obviously as an offense, we want to go out and play well every week and if we’re letting anyone down, we’re letting ourselves down.  I guess I don’t have any regret or anything.  I have a lot of optimism that we’re going to get it done this week and we’re going to get it done for the remainder of the season.

Q: What gives you that confidence?
A:  I see how hard we work every week.  I see the talent that we have and I’ve seen us do it in spurts.  It’s always a battle in consistency and finishing and we’ll hope to remedy that this week.

Q: You’ve played on teams that have played in meaningful games this time of year.  How does this team compare?  Where are they lacking?
A:  I don’t think we are lacking.  I think we’re right where we need to be and I think we’ve got the guys in this locker room to finish the season and to play well down the stretch and it’s a great opportunity for us.    

DT Marcel Dareus

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Q: Is this a little better opportunity to get through the line and get those sacks?

A: I’m pretty sure he’s going to prepare for us, he’s not going to let us get to him, he’s going to try his best not to let us get to him and just try to extend the plays as usual. He’s mobile, he can run, he’s faster than people think he is and like you said he can just extend the plays and make everyone else a little bit better across the field.

Q: How much more difficult is it too defend than, a guy who is always looking downfield despite the fact that he can get out of the pocket?

A: Oh man, it’s crazy. It’s one thing but him throwing across his body forty yards and just flipping the ball, that makes the game so much more hard, so we’re just going to have to try our best to contain and get after him the best way we can.

RB Fred Jackson  

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Q: Talk about the Walter Payton award and what it means to you?

A: It’s always special.  It’s one of probably the most prestigious award that I’ve received and one that I’m always proud to get because we have a lot of great guys on this team.  A lot of guys that do a lot of different stuff in the community for a lot of people so anytime you get that award, it’s one that you’re definitely proud of.

Q: You look at this Green Bay defense and they give up their share of points.  Does that encourage you guys that maybe you can make some hay here and maybe get back to the point scoring ways you prefer to have?

A: Yeah. There’s definitely opportunity just on us to go out and get it done as an offensive unit.  Playing against a guy in Aaron Rodgers; he’s going to put up points.  We have to be able to do the same.  It’s just like last week; playing against a great quarterback that’s known for putting points up and as offensive unit, you have to be able to go out and put up points yourself.  We’re definitely looking some things we think we can take advantage of as an offensive unit and be able to put up those points.  It’s just on us to go out and get the job done.

Q: Not that you haven’t done it in the past weeks here but do you feel…Robert was talking last week after the game about being more aggressive from start to finish.  I don’t know how you capture that as a team necessarily…maybe your play caller has more to do with that than you guys do but can you just maybe speak to what Robert was getting at…if you agree with that.  If you guys maybe have to take that killer instinct, nothing to lose mentality. 

A: Yeah.  It’s those things that one as a receiver you see they play a lot of man to man coverage.  That’s one thing that we feel as though our guys can beat any corners that they play against so we want to be able to take some shots against them and that’s something he was probably referring to.  Running the ball…we feel as though we can run the ball.  We have to be able to run the ball.  We feel as though we can do it against him and it’s just about being aggressive and going after it.  I think that’s what he wants to do.  We all want to go after it.  Get some long scoring plays.  Get the crowd involved in the game and being loud for us and if we do that, it gives us the best chance to win.

WR Sammy Watkins

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Q: Sammy how important is it too get off to a faster start points wise?

A: We’ve just got to finish. They understand that and we’ve been harping on that for 14 or 15 weeks and we just have to finish and score touchdowns.

Q: What’s missing?

A: It’s everything; it’s not one particular guy. I just think we get down there and we lose focus, I just think we press so hard to where nobody is really understanding they’ve got to score and we leave off with a field goal. We just got to be more aggressive, it’s not going to be a perfect play down there, it’s going to be covered and we just have to make plays with our defenders on our back, if we have to push off, push off and if we have to use a bow, use a bow and that’s what it’s about when we get down there in the red zone and we have to score.

Q: Did you catch what Julio Jones and Atlanta was able to do against Green Bay on Monday and does that maybe heightened your expectations for this weekend?

A: Most definitely, I sat there and watched the game and I mean different teams play different ways. He had a great game, 10 catches 250 yards, that’s outstanding and we have to go out there and do our jobs and just dominate as well as they did. They got great cornerbacks, veteran guys, so we have to be physical and go out there and have fun and play ball.

S Aaron Williams

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Q: Knowing that you guys were able to keep Peyton Manning from throwing a touchdown pass and now going up against another very prolific passer. Do you get any encouragement?

A:  Oh yeah. We’re very confident. Not allowing a Hall of Famer to throw a touchdown pass, I think he had a streak of fifty-one games straight. That’s a huge accomplishment and it gives us a lot of momentum coming into this game and another great quarterback. In my opinion, another Hall of Famer. He can extend the plays as well. People don’t realize that he can use his feet and that’s what makes him create such big plays is people think that that he can stay in the pocket, but he can come out and throw on the run as well.

Q: No disrespect to the Bronco receivers but how frightening is it put on tape and see Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson?

A: Oh yeah. They have some phenomenal play-makers. Randall Cobb and Jordy; he’s having a great year and you have to add the tight ends as well especially with a prolific running back like they do with (Eddie) Lacy and if you don’t stop the run and added to the pass game, it’s going to be a long day so we have to do a great job on the back end of just staying on top and having great communication.

Q: Is it fair to stay with no disrespect to Manning that this guy’s playing the best in the league?
A: Yeah and again, no disrespect to Peyton Manning; a Hall of Famer but I feel right now Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in this league. Numbers don’t lie. If you look at his numbers, his numbers are phenomenal and we’re not going to look past that whatsoever, but I feel like as long as our D-Line gets the pass rush and keeps him in the pocket and we do our job on the back end, I feel like it’s going to be a good game.

DT Kyle Williams

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Q: How much is the level of frustration knowing that whatever the officials call, there was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on some other guys and you took one too.

A: Yeah, it’s like everything else. Those things could go one way or another. It’s just kind of what happens in the moment. We have to leave no doubt there where it can’t be called. We have to be cleaner and do a better job. The thing that’s tough and it’s been tough all year is that holding call especially if you get somebody third and fifteen…third and twelve, it’s an automatic first down. If they’re running a four-yard slant and the guy bumps him, automatic first down’s tough. I’d love to see that be more like five yards or replay the down or something, but we have to be smarter and we have to be cleaner.

Q: As far as the quarterbacks you’re facing, Aaron Rodgers sort of ups the ante a little bit more than the Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning. 

A: It’s tough to say. He’s a great player. I was just telling someone else that it’s not something that we’re going to be shocked by having played (Tom) Brady twice a year. We’ve played Peyton. It’s not going to be something where we’re going to go in, in awe. That being said, we have to be on top of our stuff.  They’re executing at a high level. We have to clean up some of our issues penalties wise and we have to play cleaner to beat quarterbacks like that, like you saw last week.

Q: This guy Rodgers can scoot a little bit…

A:  Yeah. He can move around. I think the other two are subtle in the pocket. They do some nice movement things where this guy can actually get out of the pocket and run around and make some plays down the field so that’s a big part of their game and when we see that, we have to be ready for it.       

C Eric Wood

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Q: Is there any kind of back against the wall type feeling now knowing how the standings sit and everything?

A: Oh yeah, we’ve got to go out and get a win. We’re going to prepare hard and we have an excellent opponent coming in here on Sunday. We’re looking forward to another awesome atmosphere again with another sellout crowd and we’re fired up.

Q: Can you point to anything with the Red Zone struggles that have persisted through most of the season?

A: Yeah, we just have to keep getting better. It’s a different area of the field, a different situation, things happen a little quicker down there and we’re not making the plays. All 11 guys have to do better for us to kind of turn the page on that.

Q: Last week showed you that your defense is going to keep you in every game you play, the need to score points though…

A: Right, yeah. Our defense is excellent and they’ve played well all year and they’re a big reason we have a winning record for sure.

Q: Did you see any of the things the Falcons did to have some success against their defense?

A: For sure, and we’ll look at everyone against them, but I think they’ve got a good defense and they play well together. Everybody knows (Clay) Matthews and (Julius) Peppers and they’ve got some big names, but they’ve got a lot of players over there and they’re an effective defense.

WR Robert Woods

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Q: Is there an attitude about just being aggressive?  Do you have to each do that as individuals and then the sum of the parts as a whole?  How does that all work?  How do you capture that aggression you’re talking about?

A:  Attitude and just going after the defense.  What we see and what they give us and what we feel like we can take in certain routes, certain runs, certain plays and just always attacking and keeping them on their heels.  Just keep moving forward.

Q:  It’s kind of do or die now.  Does that kind of give you even more incentive to even let it all out this week?  Lay it all out there because there’s nothing to lose at this point.

A:  I think so.  That was our mindset.  I think we have to just keep going, stay consistent and do it every week.  Like you said, it’s do or die.  We have to win so no reason to hold back.

Q: You have a guy in your receiving core now who has really come a long way since August in Chris Hogan.  Can you just talk about how his contributions and what they’ve been this year might not have been expected back in August but they’ve come to fruition here.  How that’s all unfolded in front of everybody. 

A: Right, well since I’ve known him, he’s been good.  Coming in, rookie minicamp; he did that with us and just watching how he worked.  It was amazing how he always went hard, quick feet and I think he had that last year.  Coming in this year, making big plays for this team on offense, special teams…he’s been everywhere.  He’s really come along as a receiver and making plays for this offense.   

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