SANTA CLARA – This is what Vic Fangio said about the 49ers’ upcoming matchup with the Patriots in the media tent on Thursday.
Q: What jumps out at you about the Patriots offense?
FANGIO: They’re not only the top rated offense in the league – they’re way ahead of who’s in second in all the important stats. It’s not like they’re just a little bit ahead of team 2 in a lot of the stats. So they’re very impressive, and they have been for a long time with Brady at quarterback
Q: What are some of those important stats?
FANGIO: They lead the league in first downs and they’re 60 ahead of whoever’s in second. They get a lot of plays, they make a lot of first downs, they move the ball, they keep it going – they’re just really proficient in all areas.
Q: How do you stop them? Can you stop them?
FANGIO: Anytime you’re playing a quarterback of his caliber, the definition of a great quarterback is there is really no one way to stop him. You can’t do the same thing for four quarters and expect to slow him down. This is his 12th year starting in this system. He knows how people try to defend his system, how they try to defend him. There is no one way to defend Brady. Do you want to pressure him some? Yeah. Do you want to cover some? Yes. Do you want to rush three? Yes. Do you want to rush five or six? Yes. You’ve got to do a little bit of everything – man, zone – because he’s really good.
Q: Is a matchup like this a lot of fun for you as a defensive coordinator?
FANGIO: Do you have a tendency to be sadistic at times? There is one way to have fun, and that’s to win. Every week is a challenge. This week it’s more of a challenge, obviously because of Brady and their offense. They do a great job of running the ball too. They’re way up there in the running stats. They’ve handed the ball off well over 400 times. They do a great job of pass protecting. I think they’re offensive line coach, Dante Scarnecchia, and our offensive line coach, Mike Solari, are the two best offensive line coaches in the NFL. And it’s reflected in the way the line plays.
Q: What challenges does their no-huddle offense present?
FANGIO: It presents challenges. I think the biggest thing defensively if you just have to know that they’re in the no huddle. They do it at different tempos and you’ve got to be ready. You’re not going to have the normal time lag in between plays.
Q: Do they really try to force you into the dime package?
FANGIO: Not really. Teams have tried various ways to play them. They’ve played in the nickel. They’ve played them in base – I’m talking about when they’ve had two tight ends out there. I think you’ve got to do a little bit of everything. We’re comfortable playing our nickel against all personnel, and likewise we’re comfortable playing our base against all personnel. We may want to start a series in a certain personnel, and if we get stuck with it out there, then we’re OK with that.
Q: What have you noticed from Stevan Ridley?
FANGIO: I just think they’re running game as a whole has really complemented the passing game and the overall offensive touchdowns – these guys have rushed for 20 touchdowns. Ridley’s been a great addition for them. They’ve got Woodhead who’s a real threat coming out of the backfield and in the handoff area. He’s accounted for more than 600 yards of offense. They’ve got a stable of backs that they’re using.
Q: Does is surprise you how few times they’ve turned the ball over?
FANGIO: That’s one of the amazing things they’re doing well. They’re a high octane offense, but they’ve haven’t turned the ball over hardly at all this year. When you put those two things together, that’s why they’re a tough assignment.
Q: How much do you rely on your offense to keep your defense well rested?
FANGIO: That always is a great help. When Brady is on the sideline with the rest of the offense, that’s a great way to defend them. Our offense has a job to do. They’ve got to go out there, move the ball, get first downs, score points. Obviously when you play against a team that scores points like this group does, you’re going to have to score some points.
Q: How do you think Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman match up against this offense?
FANGIO: They’ll be stressed. They’ve got good tight ends, good backs – Woodhead is an excellent back out of the backfield. Great speed and quickness. You know what Hernandez is. They’ll have their handsful.
Q: Is this the kind of game where Perrish Cox needs to be ready?
FANGIO: He needs to be ready to go all the time, but yeah, it could be.