Defensive Coordinator Vic FangioPress Conference - November 22, 2012San Francisco 49ers
What are your initial thoughts on the Saints offense?
"Pretty proficient and explosive. Any time you've got a quarterback of [QB Drew] Brees' ability and stature playing in the same offense now for six or seven years with a lot of the same guys around him and with all the talent they have at receiver, tight end, and running backs, it's a tough, tough task to slow those guys down. Even when they were in their bad stretch early in the season, they were still scoring a lot of points. So, it's a huge assignment."
Is it a very familiar scouting report from what you had going into the playoffs last season?
"Pretty much. That's again, goes back to it's same quarterback in the same system for six or seven years and why change what you're good at? But, the problem is they have a lot of volume. When you have that type of continuity in your offense personnel wise, particularly at the quarterback position, they have a lot of offense to defend."
The 66-yarder to TE Jimmy Graham notwithstanding, do you think that you guys did a good job against him to that point?
"Against Graham in particular?"
"He did catch a touchdown in the red zone on us. He had that big play. It was OK. Wasn't as good as it needed to be. But, it was OK."
Do other teams do things differently with him? Will they put cornerbacks, safeties on him?
"It's typical really good tight end, everybody thinks well, put a corner or safety on him and sometimes those corners can't handle the guy so big, even though they can run with him maybe better than a linebacker. And then you've got the flipside, well a linebacker's maybe big enough to match him size wise, but can't run with him and change direction with him. So, a tight end like that is a problem. You just have to figure out how you want to match him up."
It looked like LB Patrick Willis had a really good game in coverage on Monday. Is that typical? Is that what you expect from him?
"He did. Yes, he did have a very good game in coverage. Particularly, [RB Matt] Forte's a tough back to handle. They went to him early on a critical third down that he stopped where it was one-on-one coverage. And thought Patrick had a very exceptional game Monday."
Speaking of good games, LB Aldon Smith was effective. He seemed to do it a number of different ways, with moves, with just brute strength. Has he gotten stronger since his rookie year? Or was he capable of that type of just shoving guys back into the quarterback last year?
"I think he's always had really good strength. He has gotten stronger from year one to year two with an offseason in here working out with our strength staff. But, he's always had good, strong, natural, brute strength and he's got strong hands, too. And the combination of that, his length, and his slither ability, he's a tough guy to block."
Have you been using him more on both sides?
"We've been doing that since we've been here. We have certain packages where he lines up on the left, certain where he lines up on the right. Now, by far he's more on the right. But, we can get him on the left at any time we want."
I haven't noticed he and DT Justin Smith playing opposite too often?
"No, we've been doing that, not a lot, but it happens anywhere from five to 10 times a game."
Not to get into too much hyperbole, but that was 5.5 sacks. Do you remember that type of performance by a pass rusher that you've ever coached?
"Not that I've been directly involved with. I can't remember. I know there's been games where guys have had more. But, I can't recall one that I was directly involved with."
Saints interim Head Coach Joe Vitt said he reminded him of former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas?
"Yeah, I think that's a little bit of a stretch. Derrick was a great pass rusher, so they are similar in that way. But, Derrick was a speed rusher primarily. And that was bailiwick. Aldon's more of a combination of strength, size, speed, slither, long arms. I think Aldon's more of a variety-type pass rusher. Where Thomas, Hall of Famer in his own right, was a speed rusher."
What kind of challenge does WR Lance Moore have?
"Their receivers, all of them, are good receivers. They don't have [Lions WR] Calvin Johnson, or [Cardinals WR] Larry Fitzgerald. But, all of them are really good. That's the problem with this team. There's not one guy to play, hey if we can take this guy out, we've got a good chance. All the receivers and Graham and [RB Darren] Sproles and their group of running backs are tough to stop. So, you've just got to line up and play and you've got to win some one-on-one matchups."
How much different is it playing these guys in the dome as opposed to at home?
"I don't think it will have much of an effect on the game when we're on defense. I don't think so."
It just seems like over the years that they've been significantly more successful at home. Is there anything you can point your finger to in terms of that?
"Well, I think that's with a lot of teams. But, they've got the home crowd there. They know the field. They're comfortable. It may make their guys go a little quicker. But, I also think the domes and turf is helpful for the defense because they change direction quicker, too."
Any thoughts on the 49ers quarterback situation?
"Why? What's up with it?"