COACH SHURMUR: Good morning. Well, as always, I know Coach [Kelly] had a chance to talk to you after the game, then yesterday had to clean up anything you might have had questions about last week's game.
We're obviously in our bye week. Bye weeks are important from a couple of standpoints. Today when we go on the practice field, we'll be able to go through some of the corrections from Sunday's game. We'll get a chance to work on fundamentals. We think that's very important during the bye week. When the players leave, we as coaches will go back and study some of the things we did in this case in the first 11 weeks, then try to refocus as we get going on our last really five weeks of what we would consider our regular‑season mission here and try to get better. So that's where we're at.
With that, I'll take your questions.
How different does the game become in December?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, I think you always want to play meaningful games. That means you won a few previous to that. Fortunately, we put ourselves in a position where we kind of control what might be the outcome of this regular season.
What's most important is we take it as a one‑game season, and this week [is] the most important week. Once we get back to preparation next week, [it] will be the Arizona Cardinals, because that's the next game.
Really we haven't accomplished anything yet other than winning our last three games. Embarking on our bye week, getting ready once we come back next week to play Arizona.
Can you see the level of intensity rise in December?
COACH SHURMUR: I think our preparation has been good each week. I've seen it get better each week also. I think there's more of an enthusiasm when you're going through it when you see results on the field.
You were Donovan McNabb's first quarterback coach.
COACH SHURMUR: One of them, yeah.
How important is that relationship between a young quarterback and the position coach? What have you seen from
COACH SHURMUR: I've mentioned it in the past. I think that quarterback room is very healthy. I think there's good learning that goes on there. You always work on fundamentals. You're always getting ready to play the next opponent, our plays kind of match with how we're trying to attack a new opponent.
But I've seen a very healthy relationship there. I think everybody understands in that room that we're trying to get the starter ready to play. Then the guys that aren't starting are working on their fundamentals so that, given an opportunity to get in the game, they can have success.
I think Bill does a good job of administering that.
What has Mike Vick been like behind the scenes helping Nick along?
COACH SHURMUR: I think Mike's been terrific. I think part of this business, if you're a player, every once in a while you get injured. Then the process that you go through to come back and become healthy again, Mike has done a good job with that.
In that quarterback room, I've been in there at times, and I see that there's some good learning. Mike is trying to help Nick as much as he can, but he's also trying to get himself ready to play in the event he goes into the game.
Have you considered challenging the slant to
COACH SHURMUR: We considered a lot of things in that game. I think Coach [Kelly] answered that yesterday.
When you talk about Nick's improvement, what has been greater, his knowledge of the game or the improvement in his fundamentals and mechanics?
COACH SHURMUR: I think both. I think it all runs parallel. I think his fundamentals are getting better each week.
Nick sees things well. I've said it numerous times in terms of a quarterback. Really in my mind it's in order -- decision, timing, accuracy. Nick is generally a good decision maker, but then you have to do it in a timely way as a quarterback. He's getting better and better at that.
Chip Kelly brought methods of sports science, the goal was to have the freshest team at the end of the year. In December, do you see a lot of these things he's instituted working?
COACH SHURMUR: I see the sports science part of what we're doing have an effect on players. The guy I talk to frequently is
I'm kind of watching it, like some of the other people in this building that are new to it. He's kind of my gauge because we've always had a great relationship. I ask him how he's feeling, how he's doing. I see a guy that each week has a high energy level once the game starts.
Yeah, it works.
Do you feel as if the preparation and sports science will help the guys be fresher in December?
COACH SHURMUR: We'll see. We'll see. I think generally speaking, we as coaches have always talked about preparation, hydration and rest. We've always talked about that.
I think what we've done is shown the players from a scientific standpoint why that stuff's all important. I think in terms of how it's going to affect us in December, we'll see. We're still in November, you know.
I'm just curious to see how it's going to go. I've just seen our guys improve physically and have a good energy level each week as we get ready to play on Sunday. Hopefully we'll have the same results as Andy [Reid] did when he was here.
What kind of things would you like to see improve offensively?
COACH SHURMUR: I think you look at situational football. I think everybody goes into their bye week, they look at how they're doing on third downs, in the red zone, how they're doing finishing games, four‑minute situations, clutch situations when you're at two‑minute, you're trying to press the pace and score. We're looking at all those things. There's areas in all of our situational football that we can get better.
How much similarity do you see between
COACH SHURMUR: Growing up in Detroit, I watched Barry. He was one of my favorite players. He was out of sight. There was times when the o-line coach might say it was perfectly blocked, but you saw four guys in the hole, he'd find a way out of it.
I think LeSean has some of those same characteristics by being able to make people miss. I think there's some comparisons there. Let's talk about those things after the season.
Following the game Foles said he's been focusing on the decision making. During the preseason, it wasn't there as much as he'd like it to be, but it is now. Did you see a line in the sand where he started to turn the corner?
COACH SHURMUR: When you're in preseason, you're in training camp. You're in training camp, then there's games that get in the way. That's what you're doing there is you're learning.
Now, in this training camp, we had a lot of things running parallel. Nick was getting used to a new system, new terminology, new way of functioning, being we were at the line of scrimmage instead of coming out of the huddle, new receivers. He was in a situation where he wasn't getting all the reps.
You just got to work your way through it. Anytime we do things more than once, you get more and more comfortable with it. He's able to do it now and has had some success.
Chip mentioned yesterday on maybe some of the zone read plays, Nick should have made different decisions than he did. Was there a point where he wasn't? What does he have to do to improve in that area?
COACH SHURMUR: It's like anything, just like taking a five‑step drop, hitting your back foot, hitching, letting it rip. It's just the fundamentals of it, going through it. You need to practice it during the week. When you get in the game, you normally get more than one shot at it. There are times when you kind of make corrections as you go. Defenses change. Maybe the end didn't give you or the guy you were reading didn't give you as clear a picture the first time.Those are things you keep going through over and over and over.
Did the Redskins do more of having the unblocked defender crashing on the line more than other teams you had seen?
COACH SHURMUR: No. I think each team tries to defend the zone read portion of our game differently. Each team tries to take away some portion of it. We just have to respond and make the right choices.For the most part we've been doing a good job of that.
Every game is tough. As you come out of the bye, you play a bunch of teams with winning records. Are you entering a telltale stretch of the season here?
COACH SHURMUR: We feel like the next most important game is the Arizona Cardinals, and they're playing extremely well. We really don't look past that.
In terms of Brent Celek feeling good at this point in the season, did you know he had that extra gear in him that he showed on Sunday?
COACH SHURMUR: The only thing disappointing about that play is he didn't get in. We all saw that he did everything physically possible to do that.
But he acted like he did. I was happy he got to go through that. But, no, I've always felt, even when I was here before, he's one of the players that was on the team when I was here before, in a former life. He's as tough as there is. He's all in for all the right reasons. I'm always, always pleased when he has success.
He is a different type of player now and used differently than before, especially in run blocking, pass protection.
COACH SHURMUR: I would dispute that claim. I would say we're using him in a lot of the same ways. We ask him to pass protect at times. He's primary in some of the route concepts, secondary in some. I know for a fact we threw him screen passes.
He's just doing a good job of making the best of his opportunities.
Another guy that was here with you was
COACH SHURMUR: If you're just going to look at the pure numbers of it all, I think he's on track to have one of his best years. I think his production is helping contribute obviously in a positive way.
He's one of those guys that each week, as good as he can be on Sunday, I see him preparing better and better and better. I think that's a credit to him. So I just hope he stays kind of right where he's going: keeping on getting better each week.
By virtue of Nick not winning the job out of camp, it would seem there was more he could do or more he needed to show you. Is he at the point where you've seen that progression?
COACH SHURMUR: I think he's playing winning football, and that's really what you rate a quarterback on first. Then we can all crunch the numbers behind and do all the comparisons that we might do.
But he's playing winning football. He's improving each week. I think that's the challenge. That really is the challenge. Do what you can to help your team win football games, whatever that may be.In this past game we asked him to run a little bit. There were some times we called passes where he scrambled and got us positive yardage. Every once in a while you take a sack, which is the right thing to do. In our offense, there are times we ask you to zone read it. He's working on all the fundamentals to have success on Sunday and ultimately help us try to win games.
There is sometimes a debate that a win or a loss is not a quarterback's stat. Do you view it that way?
COACH SHURMUR: I think you rate a quarterback ultimately on how he helps you win football games. At least I do in my mind.
I wasn't involved in that debate, so...
Foles did some nice things last year as a rookie. Two different systems. What does that say about his upside, what he might be able to develop into?
COACH SHURMUR: I think he's learned what we're doing well. I know a lot of what he was being asked to do last year. You're right, he had some success. In the passing game, some of what we're doing is very similar. A lot of the concepts are similar no matter what your offense is. Some of the other things we're asking him to do he's handling well, as well.
I'm anticipating he's going to keep getting better. I think that's good for all of us.
You've worked with so many quarterbacks. Anything when you think about Nick that sets him apart as exclusively Nick?
COACH SHURMUR: I don't know about exclusively Nick. I see a lot of the same characteristics in guys that are good. What I'm talking about are things that you do when you prepare to play a game. Then in a game, I've always been fond of the guy that stays calm and doesn't get rattled. I think that's just something that's natural to Nick. It shows up.