COACH SHURMUR: Well, I know Coach [Chip] Kelly has had a chance to visit with you twice since we played and again we are only 48 hours removed from the game.
But I think from an offensive standpoint, we had some guys in there. We had a positive contribution from all the guys that were in the game. A lot of attention obviously paid to the performance Nick [Foles] had but I think for the most part we did many things in the game I think that were positive. You know, we eliminated all the pre‑snap penalties except for one.
I think we did a good job of taking care of the football except for the one fumble. We got some explosive plays. We were pretty efficient in the run game.
So we did a lot of the things you need to do to win. The challenge for us now is to do it on a consistent basis and get our guys back out here going today and do what we can to beat Dallas, another division opponent. Dallas is a very fine football team. They won a lot of games already. And you know, it's going to be a great challenge for us.
So we are deep into the preparation, and as we get ready for Dallas, I'm sure you guys have some questions and I'll try to answer them for you.
*What's the plan with the quarterbacks today? *
COACH SHURMUR: We are going to practice the guys that are out there. So, you know, just like last week, if Nick and Mike [Vick] are ready to go, they will both practice.
The snaps ‑‑
COACH SHURMUR: We'll just see. We're out here today practicing. But again, at this point Nick is ‑‑ until ‑‑ and again, going back on that question, I can probably answer some of the ones that are going to come along here.
Coach Kelly will address those issues about who the quarterback is when both of them are healthy, and at this point we will go with Nick and then when Mike's healthy then we'll have that discussion.
Are those two as evenly matched as you can remember two quarterbacks being through your time in this league?
COACH SHURMUR: I think they are both very fine quarterbacks and when you look at our three victories, they contributed equally. And they do different things well. And they can both be very, very effective and efficient in our offense.
If DeMarcus Ware doesn't play, how significantly will Dallas's defense be affected?
COACH SHURMUR: He's an outstanding player and has been for a long time. I'm sure they will find ways to compensate but when you have a great player like DeMarcus Ware , a guy that by the nature of his position puts pressure on the quarterback, you know, I'm sure they are going to do what they can do make up for it.
The advantages of Michael Vick and then the advantages of Nick Foles, they have different qualities. What's the advantage of both?
COACH SHURMUR: I think No. 1, Nick moves a little bit better than some people give him credit for and I think Mike operates from the pocket a little bit better than some people give him credit for. They both function equally well in our offense and they both have been efficient.
We caught a game last week where Nick did a nice job of completing his deep balls. He made good decisions in the run game which is very important for us. But Mike's done the same thing. And so I think we'll sit here and try to compare the two players, but for the most part, they both can do anything we want them to do for us to be successful on offense.
*What is the relationship like inside the classroom? How do they work off each other? They talk about being very close. *
COACH SHURMUR: I think we've got a good quarterback room. Those guys all work well. My experience with quarterback rooms, if the room is not right, then it's hard for the starter to play well and it's hard for the guys that are not the starters to develop.
But they both, along with Matt [Barkley] ‑‑ you know, the room is good. [Quarterbacks coach] Bill [Lazor] does a good job of directing them. The room is good and the time that I spend in there with them and on the field ‑‑ you see them trying to support the guy that's the starter, but in total, they are all just trying to get better.
*The red zone last week, was it execution or just different play calling? *
COACH SHURMUR: We hit on some but we didn't have as many bad plays as we've had in the past, and you know, we hit on the passes that we threw. And then we ran the ball in, as well. So we just played better in the red zone. And for those of you that are number crunchers, you know, at the end of the game, we played the game right and it went against us in terms of our red zone efficiency.
We were fighting to make the Buccaneers use their timeouts. We knew that a field goal made it two scores, and so that's one of the those things we could have even been better in terms of our touchdown percentage, but what we were trying to do there was right based on where we were in the game.
*Does the red zone success have anything to do with Nick being the quarterback? *
COACH SHURMUR: No. We'd have played the game exactly the same way. We would have had all the same plays in the game plan and we would have called it exactly the same way with Mike.
Your percentage in the red zone ‑‑
COACH SHURMUR: The passes that we threw in the red zone Sunday, we would have called the exact same passes if Mike was quarterback.
*There's two different quarterbacks though, right, two different styles, two different hikes, execution would be different. *
COACH SHURMUR: Well, we expect them to execute and be efficient, and really the plays that we call, you don't call certain plays for a tall quarterback and certain ones for a guy that's not as tall.
Chip said yesterday that Riley Cooper had been open but just didn't get the ball thrown his way until this last game. Do you think Riley could be more involved going forward?
COACH SHURMUR: Each play is different, but I've said this before and I really believe it. Catches and targets first, of course, and then catches, they come in bunches and the ball went Coop's way and he did a good job of catching it, so it's a credit to him.
Do you worry about if as outside voices get louder about who should be quarterback, it puts those guys under the spotlight?
COACH SHURMUR: Not at all. We don't worry about what the outside voices say. What we do is get the players ready to play the next opponent.
*Do you think Mike and Nick are worried about it? *
COACH SHURMUR: You'd have to ask them. But I know this: They are professionals. This isn't the first time they have been through this type of stuff and as a quarterback, you deal with it. And anybody that plays any position deals with it.
In my mind, it's a quarterback conversation. I don't know what ‑‑ I understand the interest. I understand the number crunching, comparing the two quarterbacks. But you know, at the end of the day, when you're asking me the questions, what we are trying to do is get the guys that are healthy ready to play. And the decision making comes down to what Coach Kelly decides the guys that are out there.
With all of the injuries to quarterbacks this year, the league will at some point tend to have quarterbacks that are capable of starting ‑‑ there's always a drop off between the starter and the back-up but that doesn't seem to be as big of a case here‑‑
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, I think it's important that we continue to develop quarterbacks and that's probably a discussion for the off‑season, when you talk about how you structure your rosters and whatnot.
But typically, your starter is better than your backup ‑‑ in our situation, we've got two guys that have gone in and won a game, so ours is a little bit unique. But in a lot of places, there's probably a drop‑off between their first and second guy.
*You've had one turnover in the last three games; is there something that's changed? Did you guys do something differently on the practice field? *
COACH SHURMUR: No. For those of you that have been here watching ‑‑ from what you have seen, we just emphasize it, and I think our guys have done a good job of securing the football.
There are times, though, when we don't secure the ball and it doesn't get exposed and so there's always something to work on, and I've said it before, you typically get what you emphasize, and it's been a big point of emphasis. Has been throughout the off‑season training and training camp, but our guys have just done a good job.
Do the Cowboys run the same type of scheme defensively as the Buccaneers?
COACH SHURMUR: No, actually, they are not. They played ‑‑ when they play two‑deep, they play Tampa two. But most of the time they are playing with a single safety. So they play single safety man, and zone, and they play split safety man and zone.
DeSean Jackson through his career has never really been a red zone guy. He only had four touchdowns in his career until the Giants game in the red zone, and he has two in the last two weeks. Just talk about the evolution of his game, is it a conscious thing where he's expanded what he does?
COACH SHURMUR: I've said it before that I think he can be an effective player all the way up‑and‑down the field. And he did a good job last week with the routes that he ran.
You know, I don't know if we are consciously trying to evolve him into a better red zone player, but you know, when his number was called, he did a good job.
I think as a receiver, you know, you just really want to make sure you're running good routes and you want the quarterback to be confident at what you're doing and then when the ball comes your way, catch it, and I think he's working on all those things.
Looking at the playing time each week, Zach Ertz saw increased reps, what has he shown you in practice and where do you see this going?
COACH SHURMUR: I think we had one of those games last week where James Casey was not up so he took a couple extra reps.
He played a little bit more. And again, I think Ertz is doing a good job. I think Zach is improving. There's a lot going on for rookies in this league when they are trying to make a contribution, and I think he's improving each week.
But that's not the reason he's playing more. He's one of the guys that's up and active and we use him.
*Do you see him as the top tight end? *
COACH SHURMUR: Well, I think what he needs to do is continue to improve. Right now, you know, Brent Celek is our top tight end for a lot of reasons that I really admire. He's one of the toughest guys we've got. He fights, does everything we ask. And typically when the ball comes his way, he does a good job.
*On both of DeSean's touchdowns, he was lined up in the slot? *
COACH SHURMUR: No, the one he caught in the back of the end zone he was lined up outside actually. The deep ball he was in the slot.
*Is that done for matchups or are you trying to move him around? *
COACH SHURMUR: No, we line him up in the slot. We were slot to our right side, which, you know, he can be ‑‑ we put him everywhere. We'll line up three receivers to the left or right and we'll put him at the first, second and third spot and then we'll lineup in the slot, put him inside, outside, and typically he plays his position which is mostly on the right. So we play him everywhere.
What do you see him doing this week?
COACH SHURMUR: There are certain route concepts, certain things we do in the run game where we want him in there. You know, each week, that's part of our competitive advantage is not talking about why.
How has Chip Kelly improved as a play caller since the start of the season?
COACH SHURMUR: I think he's a good play caller. I think he was early in the season, as well. I don't see any ‑‑ I think we all improve as coaches and players as you go throughout the year because we get used to working with one another.
But the reason he's the head coach here is he was an outstanding play caller, won a lot of games, and I think he's doing all those same things.
*There were a lot of unbalanced line formations last week in the fourth quarter; why do you like it and why is it so effective? *
COACH SHURMUR: Well, in the fourth quarter, we were in what we call our four‑minute drill where we were trying to advance the football, and chew some clock.
I think that was a really gritty drive by our guys, even though we did not score a touchdown. And we visited on the plane; we did not score a touchdown. By moving the ball down the field methodically, we were chewing clock and then in the last go around there when they jumped off‑sides on fourth down, it then allowed us to chew up their time‑outs and by kicking the field goal, it makes it two scores.
The unbalanced line is just something that the defense has to adjust to. And we'll use it in the four‑minute drill but we'll use it out on the field. Heck, we might start the game with an unbalanced line call.
*Does Celek's ability as a blocker help with that? *
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, his ability to block helps us there for sure, no question.
What's the key from the quarterback's perspective in executing a successful screen?
COACH SHURMUR: No. 1, screens are a good way to slow down the rush, if you look at it from outside‑in, they were pressuring us and getting after us a little bit, bringing us pressure, and we carry screens in every game. There are some games where we use them more than others but it needs to look like a pass.
And then of course the quarterback has to ‑‑ you know, he's got to take his normal drop and whatever he's doing with his initial drop, then retreat a couple steps and then locate the screen runner. You know, there's times when you've got to throw it in a lane between people, but they are always prepared to go up and over. We did a good job of getting the screens completed. Then of course I thought we did an excellent job of blocking on the perimeter on the two screens to the halfback and then of course the one to Brent.
The screen to DeSean, looked like you had DeSean in motion the other way. Do you think Tampa was following him?
COACH SHURMUR: We did the same thing and flipped the screen and ran it the other way. I think DeSean in the backfield kind of draws a little attention. We actually did the same thing and then ran the ball later just before half. So, you know, try to window dress it.
That's something you seem to be doing a lot of, running the same play, even if they are towards different sides. What's the thinking behind that? Is that something you've done in the past working with Chip?
COACH SHURMUR: No, we've done it. I think all play callers will run the same play if they have success. Sometimes developing a tendency is a good thing. That means you're good at stuff. I've heard that said once before, you know, but then of course you've got to be able to make it look like one thing and do another, as well. So that's all the fun stuff we worry about when we're not visiting with you guys.