Bradley: Bengals Are 'Very Talented at Running Back'

Chargers DC Gus Bradley talks with the media about preparing for Bengals RB Joe Mixon

Opening Statement:

“We walked through the session that we had in the gym, and it was good. A lot of things going on. As far as Cincinnati, we've got a lot of respect for them. When you take a look at their running back, their running game, it jumps out at you. It's not hard to put on in front of our players and they take notice. Very talented the running back obviously at the skill position. We've got our work cut out for us this week with this group.”

On DE Joey Bosa:

“I think you see every game that he plays, every series that he plays, you start seeing him come back to who he is. I think that especially after last week's game, it was a very physical game. I think he can feel it from the game, the effects, and that tells you that he's not quite maybe in game, tip-top shape where he's at, but he's getting closer. So we really like the progress he's making.”

On how having Bosa changes the defense:

“I mean, we've changed some things because of his coming back, you know, as far as position guys. What he gives us, you know, especially versus the run and his pass rush. You know, third down rushes and things like that, he's come back and got three sacks, I think in two games. So just that, the ability to get the pressure on the quarterback from the four-man rush.”

On how Cincinnati’s offense has changed with Bengals QB Jeff Driskel:

“That's a great question. You know, I looked back at them early in the season, their four games, and this team scored a lot of points — a lot of points against Atlanta, a lot of points and they were rolling. Now they've had some injuries, but you still see that ability to score points because of their skill players and because of their backs. So you see a little bit of differences. You see the way they attack the offenses, that philosophy is still there. You see how they want to go about doing it, but I think now that Driskel, the ability of him to run, there are a few things that may be a little bit different than they did with Dalton — but their overall philosophy is still there.”

On if he expects the Bengals to utilize run-pass options:

“You know, [Driskel’s] ability, I think we're very aware of his ability to run the ball.”

On Bengals WR John Ross:

“A lot of strength because of his speed. He has the ability to stretch the field vertically. Every week you have guys like that that have elite speed, but he might have the most elite speed in his ability to run. So he can take the top off the defense. So, again, it's just building awareness to where he's at on the field and his abilities.”

On the pass-rush struggling early against Pittsburgh:

“No, I would agree. I didn't think as far as the first half, we didn't get the type of pressure we were hoping., but the second half I think some things got cleaned up. Whether it was just the four-man rush or some of the games, [Defensive Line Coach] Giff [Smith] did a great job at halftime with those guys. I think we've really detailed the package of getting more clarity on what we were trying to do, and it fell in place a little bit better. So even though there was only one sack, we felt like we were getting closer to him, affecting him a little bit more.”

On any adjustments made in the secondary against Pittsburgh:

“Well, it didn't start very good right away early, but I think the guys — you know, it felt like right away, like we said at halftime, let's just do what we're supposed to do. Do the techniques. Do what we show up and practice and we've done in previous weeks and let's see what happens. I think guys kind of got back into that groove. There were some subtle things that we did, but nothing drastic. I think our guys just really played better. I think the rush started to get where they were more affecting the quarterback a little bit more. Our coverage was a little bit tighter, and we were making plays on third down.”

On the defensive backs being physical with opposing receivers:

“I would say that's our objective every game is to try to be as physical as we can, especially at the line of scrimmage, but no, I don't think it was anything like that. I think that guys got more into a rhythm as the flow of the game. Then you know how momentum goes — you start getting momentum, these guys start making plays. I thought looking back at it, we had some missed assignments, but I felt like we really tackled well. I think earlier I talked about if you were in single digit, missed tackles, I think we had five in the game. So that, I think, is progressive week after week. I think we're becoming a better tackling team. I think that showed up.”

On CB Michael Davis’ pass interference:

“You're talking about the deep ball and the penalty? Yeah, that was one of our busts. We didn't have the proper leverage on that play, so he had to make up. I think that's where you saw the speed. He had the catch-up speed, but then the 50-50 ball and the ability to run that, that's a challenge for him. That's what we want to see more from him are those 50-50 type balls to go up and make plays on them. So I think leverage to start would have been better for him. Then, you're right, the ability to, you know, to get to where you're back in leap position and the ability to look back and make the play. He just thought he was still in the trail position.”

On the versatility of S Adrian Phillips:

“First of all, he's extremely intelligent. He can play strong safety, free safety, dime and nickel for us, and we'd feel extremely comfortable if he was in any of those positions. So that intelligence, he's got a football IQ that is, to say compare him to anybody, he's just one of the most elite guys in that area that I've ever been around. So that helps him. Now, his athleticism, and his ability to make plays, the challenge for him was being in the box and getting off blocks and making plays because your safety, you're not doing that much. You might be doing it on the perimeter, but he's been impressive inside there. He's really taken ownership of it, and how it happened was just basically because of injuries. Our hands were tied a little bit and said, alright, where do we go from here? After talking with [Defensive Backs] Coach [Ron] Milus and everybody, we thought he would be the next man that we felt like could handle that and all the things that we ask him to do. We're very grateful for him. Very grateful.”

On if Phillips has made pass coverage and flexibility a strength at linebacker:

“Yeah, I would say so. In our minds, if you ask us as coaches, that is a strength right now, his ability to play that because it gives us flexibility. Usually having a linebacker and there are only so many things you can do with them. You saw him, he was in the box, but other times he was playing half field coverage. So that type of athlete gives us some flexibility.”

On NT Damion Square:

“It's funny that you talk about him right after [Adrian] AP [Phillips], because in our mind those two guys are very similar. Damion Square plays nose, four-technique, and he's another guy with his football IQ and intelligence, we can play him at multiple positions. It's not just play [there], he excels at it. He's been playing very well for us. Those are two key guys in our defense. Those two guys, we've had some injuries, but those two guys, I think, have given us the flexibility that we can maneuver some things and keep going.”

On when he knew Phillips had an elite football IQ:

“I think they told me about him when I first got here, but now being around him and just seeing him, I think it's something that you appreciate once you see him involved in the games and some of the things he does because it's not only for him. He's helping guys next to him. I think [LB Jatavis Brown] has played very well for us and I think a lot of that credit goes to AP [Phillips]. I think just that presence with him on the field. They're constantly challenging one another and talking through some things, and they're similar in body types, you know.”

On S Derwin James:

“He played pretty well. He's a guy that we want to make sure he's around the ball. Every week it changes for every position. I mean, that's the goal for everybody on our defense is to try to put them in position where they can impact the game. So he's been a play-maker for us all year. His skill set is unique, very unique. It's our job to try to position him to where we can utilize that skill set.”

On what position Phillips plays:

“Yeah, we call him a dime. He can double up on many positions, so you know, when [CB] Desmond [King II] went down and he was on the field, we kind of hesitated. Okay, we would have to move some guys around if we lost him. Again, we would probably look to him in that situation where he might have had to move out to nickel or [CB] Trevor [Williams]. So I think for a coach, it just gives you more peace of mind when he's out there, because, again, he can play so many different positions.”

On if Phillips studies with the defensive backs:

“Oh, yeah, he's not going to give up that part. [Linebackers Coach Richard] Smith would like him in his room, but I don't think that's going to happen.”

On NT Brandon Mebane:

“You know what? He's one of the strongest leaders in that locker room for our defense. His presence on the field, his presence in that locker room, he brings a sense of calm and wisdom to the guys. He's not going to get up in front of the group and give this passionate, long speech, but if there's issue, he's the one that a lot of them go to. He has been such a great impact on our room and to see what he's going through and his family is going through, your heart goes out to him. Just the relationship I have with him, being with him in Seattle and here, you hurt for him — but I think the greatest thing about him is he is all this on his plate with his family and what his family's going through, and then to be able to perform at a high level on the field and deal with that. It's not surprising because I know him and his professionalism and his ability to handle those things. Je's playing at such a high level, but his priority is his family, as it should be.”

On Bengals RB Joe Mixon:

“You know what? You hate to compare. You see his ability to accelerate through a hole is something that jumps out at you. He can jump cut. That part reminded me of Fred Taylor. The ability to start in the A-gap and get to the edge like that. So, you know, we looked at it, and no doubt he's one of the top running backs we've faced. That's not even a question. You know, his average per attempt and things like that are high. So he's strong. He's physical. He can make you miss. The jump-cut, the acceleration. So if you just pulled up their explosive plays and look at their explosive runs he's had, and we look at running style each day, five or six flips of running style. Well, it's not hard to find those this week because of him.”

On Bengals RB Giovani Bernard:

“Completely different style, completely different style, but very effective. Another guy that can go and accelerate. Yes, his size, they're a little bit different there, but as a third down back, and they'll change it up with him. So our defense has to be aware of which back is in the game because of the different styles.”