San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator chatted with the media today and had plenty to say early on about the Cincinnati Bengals young foundation of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. The duo grows more and more interesting by the day and could present a tougher than expected challenge this Sunday. The Bengals have put together some impressive passing displays through two games.
Dalton potentially loses a recent playmaker in Jerome Simpson after he was found with what some would consider a slightly more than modest amount of marijuana at his home. Simpson blew up against Denver and would provide Dalton with one more weapon to continue his solid start. Whatever the case, the Bengals do not represent any sort of pushover opponent. With the passing game backed by a solid rushing attack, the Bengals are not going to roll over on offense.
Based on Fangio's comments after the jump, it looks like both Dashon Goldson and Shawntae Spencer will get playing time this week. It sounds like more than just special teams play as Fangio did mention the "rotation." I'be curious to see how they both look for regular stretches given some of the struggles in the secondary. It's possible they won't provide upgrades, but sometimes making these kinds of changes for change's sake could shake things up a bit.
Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio
Press Conference - September 22, 2011
San Francisco 49ers
Listen to Audio I Media Center
How have the Bengals managed to have a rookie quarterback do very well in two games?
"Well he's a good quarterback number one. He was a highly thought of guy coming out of college, won a lot of games at TCU and his career there. He's very efficient. He's got a really good understanding of the game. Gets the ball out of his hands quickly. He's an accurate passer. I don't think the aura of playing in the NFL has affected him like it kind of affects some rookies at times. So, I think it's just because of him. He's capable and he's ready, and he's a good quarterback. They've made a good pick there, and I think he'll be a good quarterback for them for a long time."
Have you ever seen a combination of two rookies, a receiver and a quarterback, have such quick chemistry?
"I'd have to sit down and think about it for a little while, and you'd have to give me some examples. But, I'm trying to think here. I can't think of anybody, but I'm sure it's happened. But, no, these guys have gelled quickly together. [Bengals WR A.J.] Green's an explosive threat outside. He gives them size, range, speed. He makes the tough catches. He can find the ball in the air on the deep balls. He's a tough matchup for anybody."
There's always talk about quarterbacks that they have to adjust to the pro game. Is that any easier now that the NFL kind of resembles a college game in a lot of aspects with spread offenses lined up fairly often?
"I don't think so because the college game is a lot different than the NFL game in many ways. Where the college game has caught up and maybe prepared people more for the NFL quicker, is they do throw the ball more than they used to. So the passing game, being more prevalent in college football, has helped both quarterbacks and receivers be a little bit more NFL ready than they have been in the past. But, the college game is still vastly different from the NFL game."
Vic, is [S] Dashon Goldson going to start this week?
"He's definitely going to play some this week. We haven't decided on what the rotation will be, but he will be in there."
And what about [CB] Shawntae Spencer?
"He will play also."
So how do you, right now, he's been the fifth corner?
"I wouldn't necessarily say he's been the fifth corner."
I'm sorry, the fourth.
"Or the fourth. It's just because of the injuries. The injury he had, we wanted to make sure he was ready and able to play before he came back. I think it's been repeated many times in the NFL and happens week in and week out, many times guys come back from injuries too early. They're cleared medically, but they're not ready to play. They need some practice time. And what invariably happens in many cases, guys go out back there, they're not ready to play because they haven't had much practice. And either one of two things or both happen. One, the guy doesn't play as good as you think he would have, or two, he reinjures the injury. So, we wanted to make sure that he's fully healthy and ready to go, get some practice under his belt before we put him out there, and I think we've done the wise thing there."
How do you simulate how he would respond in a game situation just by practicing? What do you have the offense do?
"Well, he just practices. He gets in there and practices, gets a part of our huddle calls and playing within our scheme. You've got to remember, he got hurt very early on the second practice so he had zero training camp for us. So, his body, mind is still in training camp, physically and mentally. So, we had to give him a lot of reps. He'd been out there the previous two weeks of playing on the scout team. They did more reps, just playing corner, back pedaling, breaking on the balls, getting his conditioning, playing speed conditioning."
Do you have an indication now what kind of player he is after a couple of weeks?
"Not really just because practice is one thing and the game is another. But I'm confident. He's been a veteran player in this league. He's played well in the past, and we're expecting him to play well for us."
You mentioned last month that [LB] Ahmad Brooks came in a little bit heavier than you would have liked, how is he now? How is his endurance throughout the game? And is he still effective at the end of the game as he is at the beginning?
"Yes he is. Ahmad plays at a very high level from an effort standpoint. He's all over the field, and he's played I think almost every play we've played in these first two games, outside of maybe three or four at the most. So, I think his conditioning is where it needs to. He just has to make a special emphasis to keep it where it is and even improve it."
Was he lined up in the neutral zone from where you could see?
Vic, when you were evaluating personnel in the spring, after you guys came in, did you not see [Bengals OLB] Manny Lawson and [Bengals CB] Nate Clements fitting well in your system? Did that have anything to do with the decision not to re-sign those guys?
"I never saw Manny-never evaluated, saw him, or met him. We were trying to sign back Nate prior to the lockout. Then after the lockout, we were trying to sign him back."
I mean on film, when you saw them on film looking at last year's personnel. Did you see them not really fitting into your system, or?
"No not at all. I think both of those guys could have had a place in our system, and we would have loved to have both of them."
You guys are ranked number one in stopping the run, only two games, but that was something the team did really well last year. Is that an emphasis this year? Or is that more a factor of we've got the personnel for, or are good at stopping opponents' running backs?
"Well we'd like to think that we do a good job at stopping the run. We have some good defensive linemen that do a good job of holding the point in there. We'll be tested more this week. This is the best running game that we're going to face out of the first three games. These guys run it better than the first two teams that we've played. So, we'll see exactly where we stand after this game. But, we're confident that we can play the run. Our D-line is prideful in it, along with our linebackers up front, and the safeties fitting it correctly. So, we expect that to be a strength of our team and we need it to be moving forward."
With [DT] Ray McDonald being an every-down player now, how has he adjusted to playing the run on first and second downs?
"Very well. He's played the run well for us. He's done a very nice job as a total package defensive end for us and the base package, and obviously playing tackle in the sub-package. We've been very pleased with his play."
On the second [Cowboys WR] Miles Austin touchdown it seemed like [S] Madieu Williams was in the right position to make the play, did he take a poor angle? What should he have done...?
"On the one down in the end zone?"
Yeah, on the corner.
"No he was fine there. We just didn't play it correctly around him, and that was the route that was disappointing that we didn't get stopped at that time."
What about that last pass play where [S Donte] Whitner comes in and [CB Carlos] Rogers kind of just stays put. Is Rogers supposed to trail with him and go with him down the field?
"We didn't play it correctly. We got our eyes in the wrong place and obviously the result is what you saw up there."
Just as the secondary as a whole in the second half, Cowboys were able to put up some pretty big numbers, what was going on? Was that just individual breakdowns, or?
"No, for the most part it was they threw and caught it better than we defended it. That's a very good passing game, very good quarterback. He's got good weapons to throw to, and they threw it and caught it better than we defended it. It wasn't that there was a lot of breakdowns."