Carson Palmer has faced defenses coached by Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on eight different occasions since he came into the NFL as the No. 1-overall pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2003 draft. His teams have beaten Fangio’s four times.
And with all that time and contact, Palmer has no true idea what he’s dealing with in Fangio’s Bears defense, except that it will be “weird.”
“In no way do we feel confident that we know what we’re getting,” Palmer said. “It’s one of those weeks where you’ve just got to study and then be prepared for some kind of pressure out of a weird alignment or weird front that you haven’t seen. Then just react and try to overcome it.”
Fangio doesn’t expect “weird” from Palmer or Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Fangio and Arians were members of the same Indianapolis Colts staff under Jim Mora from 1999-2001, and Fangio has seen Palmer from the perspective of three different defenses: Houston, Baltimore, San Francisco and now Chicago.
“He’s a great passer, throws a great deep ball, which is something Bruce really likes,” Fangio said. “He’s got good command of their offense. He likes their offense. You can tell that he likes it. He thinks it fits him and I think it does, too. Back in the day, he was a good scrambler and he still can to some degree. He’s a complete quarterback, always has been.”
The NFL is about matchups, and those come in all forms. And history is not always a good reference starting point; witness, Fangio being 4-0 vs. Aaron Rodgers going into last Sunday’s Bears-Packers game and Green Bay leaving Soldier Field having ended Fangio’s streak.
But neither that game nor his own against Fangio have given him a true clue. The result is Palmer needing to study not only this year, not only last year, but even games that don’t matter.
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“I wish, I wish I had a really good feeling of what was coming and when it was coming,” Palmer said. “He presents a lot of different issues, a lot of different fronts, different looks, different pressures. You’ll see a pressure, a handful of pressures in the preseason, and then the first week against the Packers, that you won’t have see again. You’ll expect and practice for those and he’ll tweak it just a little bit and bring it from another side.
“You’ve just got to study as hard as you can and bring up every look from all of last year, all the preseason games when the 1’s, 2’s, 3’s and 4’s are in there, and try to have a good feel for it. And then expect to be surprised by one or two pressures that you see.”