On Falcons QB Matt Ryan and his poise: "It's pretty rare. They made a commitment. You can tell, when you look at the preseason film and you go all the way through the season, every game he has improved. He probably had his best game last week against the Bears, as far as throwing the football. I think everyone knew he was coming out, he was a very intelligent guy, he has nice size, he has a good arm, and they have done a good job with him. You see improvement. He's not taking sacks, he's throwing the ball away, he's doing a good job with that. He hits big plays when he has to. Every week, he has really improved."
On having success against rookie QBs: "I know that somebody mentioned that the other day. I can hardly remember some of the rookie quarterbacks we've gone against. I don't really think about it; I just think about attacking their offensive team, knowing that we are going to try to do some certain things against a young quarterback, like we do a lot of different quarterbacks who don't have experience. He is playing like a veteran right now. You would like to have this guy the first game of the year; he was a lot different quarterback than he is now."
On whether the defense can surprise a rookie QB like Ryan or if it is about out-executing the offense: "I think it's out-executing. I think every week you try to do something a little bit different. He has probably looked at a lot of film of us. They kind of know certain things we do. Even if you blitz, it still comes down to execution - timing of the blitz, how well we execute the blitz. Some games we have had good success with blitzes executing, some games we might not get there because of the timing or not doing the blitz right. I'm sure they have studied enough things and he has studied enough things. You're always going to try to do some certain things a little bit different, but it still comes down to execution."
On Falcons rookie LT Sam Baker: "He is coming along. He didn't play a lot, earlier in the year. All of a sudden they've brought him along and he's playing pretty well right now. Earlier in the year we didn't see quite as much of him. We have seen him in about the last two or three games playing a lot. They are a very physical line. Any time you only give up seven sacks (on the season), it's a combination of the line and the quarterback. Of course, the thing that sets it up is the running game. They do a great job in the running game. If they can get ahead of you, they're going to pound the ball against you. They are a very balanced offensive attack right now."
On Falcons RBs Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood: "The thing about these running backs, both of them, if you look at the stats in the league, they break tackles. Their yards after being hit is some of the top in the league. I think Turner is something like second in the league after getting hit, as far as breaking tackles. We knew Turner from San Diego, watching him, he had great balance and one of his things was he was a hard guy to tackle. He brought it over to Atlanta; same thing. Norwood is the same thing. They are two good backs. One is a good inside runner. The other one may be a little better outside, but they're two good backs and they're breaking tackles right now. You don't hardly see that much in the league having two backs breaking tackles like these guys."
On whether breaking tackles has been a problem for this defense: "I think it was in the last couple games. I think it was a little bit in the 49ers game, I know that. We have emphasized that. I've always said this: if you're not stopping the running game, it comes down to either gap control or tackling. Sometimes if you have both of them, you're going to have trouble stopping the running game. It's important we have good gap control. Even if we are stunting or blitzing, we still make sure we are in good gap control. Plus, we have to tackle. It's as simple as that. Good defenses tackle well."
On whether they examined the run defense during the bye week: "We went back and examined it. We were concerned. Every game is a little bit different. San Francisco (RB Frank Gore) broke a couple tackles and made some big plays. A couple times was gap control and we had some blitzes on too. I guess I get more concerned about making sure we are tackling well. We have emphasized that a lot. We have to tackle well this Sunday."
On whether they worked over the bye week to fix the problem of opposing tight ends: "Yes, and we're still working on that. (Jokingly) Tight ends need to send a limo for us, I think. It's a matchup. You always go back to last week. The 49ers, at times we did a good job on the tight end and at times we did a poor job on the tight end. Toward the end of the third quarter and in the fourth quarter, we did a great job on the tight end. I think this defense, and I've said this before, we just need to be more consistent in what we do. Whether it is a tight end or the running game, we have to play the whole game, as far as taking away the tight end. At times we had good matchups. At times we thought we had good matchups and the tight end made a great move one time on (FS Brian) Dawkins and got away from him. We just have to be more consistent, that's all."
On Falcons WR Roddy White: "There is another guy having a good year. With 35 catches, he has more than the rest of those receivers together. The thing about him I think two things: Matt Ryan has a lot of confidence in him; he's throwing the ball to him quite a bit. The kid is getting open, he's coming up with great catches. With that combination, he is getting a lot of balls thrown at him and he has come up with some big plays. It's as simple as that."
On whether Ryan reminds him of anyone at this stage in his career: "No, I remember going against (Colts QB) Peyton Manning when he was with the Colts and I was in Seattle. You could tell Peyton was going to be a good quarterback. I don't think he had the year this guy is having right now. This guy is winning football games. Peyton was good, but this guy here is as advanced as I've seen, as far as a rookie, that I have been associated with."
On shutting down WRs and whether there is a give-and-take with shutting down TEs too: "Yes, I think when you get it to a tight end, just like (Cowboys TE Jason) Witten, I worry more about big plays from a tight end. I don't worry about a six-yard hook or a short route. Those are going to happen. It's when you have certain coverages and we give up a big play. Those plays are going to kill you. I don't think a tight end catching a short pass, unless it's a big yards-after-catch, is going to kill you. Sometimes we are playing certain coverages to take away the wide receivers, too."
On what it is about Ryan that makes him so composed: "That's hard to say. I think this guy, just like they did with Peyton, they threw him in the fire right away. They did it with Matt right away. I'm sure Peyton got better as the year went by, too, because of the experience. You never know how fast a guy is going to come along. This guy is coming along at a good pace. Also, I think the running game has really helped him. It makes a lot of a difference when you have a good running game. I'm not sure if Peyton had the running game. This is an excellent running game; they are second in the NFL in running the ball. It makes it very difficult to defend when you have to stop the running game, too. I think this running game has helped him. He did throw for over 300 yards against the Bears and had a great game last week. They know what they're doing with him, as far as what situations they are going to put him into. They haven't had a lot of hard situations. There have been a lot of third-and-three, third-and-four, third-and-fives because they are running the ball."
On S Quintin Demps' development and status on the team: "I'm not sure he is going to get in right away. He is still a special teams player right now. If we have an injury here or there, we are still trying to bring him along in case we do have an injury. He is getting some reps in practice. Right now he is still our return guy and a special teams player."
On DE Victor Abiamiri in his first game back: "I saw a lot of rust. He played 18 plays and didn't really have much production. He is going to play a lot this week and I think he'll tell you the same thing about just getting back in the flow of the game. He is going to play a lot this week. He might play 20 or 25 reps. I think it's just the tempo and speed of the game. I think he's going to be a good player for us; he's going to help us."
On DE Chris Clemons performance last week: "Chris played 11 plays and did a good job. He came up with a big fumble (recovery). He was very active. The thing he did was let (DE Juqua Parker) rest until the fourth quarter when JP had an unbelievable fourth quarter. It's nice to have that rotation, where you have the confidence in Chris taking a few plays and resting JP. Same thing with Victor helping out there, too."
On when most of Clemons' snaps took place: "They were all up in the first, second and third quarter in nickel situations. Of course, we went to a certain package with JP in the fourth quarter, when he was fresh anyway and had a great fourth quarter."
On what happened in the fourth quarter that made the defense take over: "It's hard to pinpoint. It is one of the better fourth quarters I have been around. I think they had six possessions and we had six stops in the fourth quarter. All of a sudden you get that momentum and we had the quarterback on the move a little bit. We came up with some big plays and I think we were fresh, too. It helped being fresh."
On what role Parker played in the fourth quarter of that game: "We played a lot more Okie; he was playing that Joker, coming outside and dropping. That's where we had him dropping on the blitz. Stuff like that."
On whether Parker is a different player this year: "I think he's been the same player. I think he has had some good games and he just had one of those games where he came up with some big plays. If you look at him before, he has always seemed to come up. He might go into a little bit of a slump for a while, but he has come up with some big plays over the years."
On whether Parker is a player who needs to rest during the game: "I think so. He's such a hard player. He's not a really big defensive end. All of those guys need rest. It's nice to have that rotation where you can do it."