PAT SHURMUR: First off, I know I'm a day early here, but happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This is obviously an important holiday for us involved in football, obviously. You have friends and family and football, and it's all wrapped together. Even though we're all involved in busy weeks, we get a few hours tomorrow to at least give thanks for the things that are important to us, certainly friends and family. I know for me I think of them, think of you and our team and obviously my wife, Jennifer. We've been friends for 25 years, best of friends for 25 years, and I know she makes the world a better place every day.
So all that stuff is good. We're trying to be tough and we're trying to do all those things and trying to win games every weekend, but I think it's important that we just sit back for a couple hours tomorrow after our work's done and give thanks for that kind of stuff.
So that being said, we're obviously preparing for the Cardinals. They're an outstanding football team. Let's make no mistake. I mean, they're very talented. We speak specifically about their defense, very, very talented. They've got Pro Bowl players all over the place. They're big, they're physical, they like to pressure, and they challenge everything. So it's going to be a real test for us this weekend. So with that, I'll take your questions.
You mentioned that they like to pressure a lot. Is it tougher to blitz spread offenses? What have you seen so far this season with the defense trying to do that?
PAT SHURMUR: No, their blitz percentage has been pretty consistent no matter who they've played or what style of offense. So I think they believe in pressuring. They trust their corners in their ability to cover whether it's a man pressure or some kind of a fire zone. So I don't think it really matters what you do on offense. I do know they believe in getting pressure on the quarterback.
Nick Foles has just been named NFC player of the month.
PAT SHURMUR: Yes, it's quite an honor.
Specifically along those lines, how has he been? How has he progressed as far as seeing the blitz and beating it and making plays against it?
PAT SHURMUR: I think Nick sees extremely well. We've talked about that in here before. I think he sees the field well. He understands what the defense is going to do going into the game, and he's able to come back and talk about where the pressure came, where he needed to go with the football. So I think he's very aware of what a defense can and will do to him. But I think that gets better with time, and I anticipate he'll even be better this week.
Coming into this season when you had three offensive linemen coming off major injuries and the whole line was undergoing a dramatic change in scheme, would you have had concern about how that unit would hold off and do this year?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, they've played a lot together. I think they've played together now almost 90% of the snaps. I think that's important for that unit. You know, when guys come back from injury you really don't worry about it. I know all the players are exposed to injury. Our guys have done a good job of training their bodies in the offseason and then working and preparing each week, so they minimize those risks. But they've done a good job. Anytime an offensive line can play together for as long or as many snaps as they have, they have a chance to be a good offense.
Michael Vick's obviously a weapon on the field and he'll be the number two quarterback. Is there any thought whether you guys open to having him on the field in certain packages or circumstances? What is the philosophy when it comes to that?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, I wouldn't reveal any schematics for the game in terms of how we're going to sub the players. But Mike's preparing himself to play in whatever situation he goes on the field. He'll do a good job.
When Jason Peters was on the injury report, he has three injuries listed there. Is he a guy who you've had to manage during the week? Has there been any weeks where there's concern that he might not be out there?
PAT SHURMUR: No, he's practiced. He's trained all the way through. There are times when all players might miss a portion of a practice. Unfortunately, you can't see them all. But ‑‑
PAT SHURMUR: It is unfortunate, yes. But there are times where guys will miss a portion of practice or a day or day and a half and still get out there and play. It's just something that all players do.
Do their cornerbacks trail specific receivers or do they stay strictly on one side?
PAT SHURMUR: Are you talking about [Patrick] Peterson?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, they'll match receivers at times. Then there are games when they don't. So we'll just have to see what their strategy is when they play us.
What makes Peterson so good, so effective, so unusual?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, he's got size, number one. Then he's got the skill and ability to play bump and run which you're looking for. Then when the ball goes up in the air, he's got outstanding ball skills. So you can't leave the ball ‑‑ you can't be sloppy with where you place the ball, because he could make a play on it. Then obviously, once he has the ball in his hands, we all know what he can do based on how he handles himself and those kick and punt returns.
Has he matched up with the opposing team's best receiver throughout the season?
PAT SHURMUR: He has at times. Then there are times where they'll play sides. I think all defensive coordinators decide strategically what they want to do with their corners. You know, it is a match‑up game of sorts. So we'll just have to see what their plan is early in the game.
LeSean McCoy is on pace for a record amount of carries for him. Is that something that you guys are conscious of that you'll monitor down the stretch? How important is Bryce Brown's role in that respect?
PAT SHURMUR: I think LeSean's having an outstanding year. He's been very productive for us. He's having ‑‑ just based on what I saw yesterday out in practice, he looks healthy and ready to go. So we're aware of how much he carries the football. But we do feel confident when we put Bryce in there or Chris [Polk] in there or even [Matthew] Tucker when he was up. So we feel good about that position group. Of course, LeSean, just by sheer numbers, has a chance to have one of his best years.
Talking about Bryce Brown specifically. Can you talk about anything that's maybe holding him back or what you're seeing from him this year?
PAT SHURMUR: No, I don't think he's being held back in any way. I think he's doing a good job in pass protection. When he runs the ball, he's a big, physical guy. When he gets his pads turned, he's tough to tackle. So when he's had his opportunities, I think he's made the most of it.
How do you evaluate how Nick Foles has done against the blitz this year?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, we look at it, of course. Teams will pressure as we know, a certain percentage. I think he's done a good job in third downs in terms of understanding where the pressure comes and getting the ball out. He's had to throw hot at times, which means there is an extra rusher coming. There are times when he's had pressure around him where he's kept a down-field focus and made a throw. You know, I think he does a good job. He's a big guy. He's a tall guy, but he's a good athlete. So when there is pressure or a little bit of noise in the pocket, he has the ability to slide and make a throw.
You know, all those things. It's a long‑winded answer, but I think you just watch him play gently and you prepare him for the pressures he's going to see. You match it up with the coverages that are behind it, and then he just goes through his progressions.
Is that something that Vick has helped him with, sliding around the pocket and improving the speed?
PAT SHURMUR: They talk about it. The one thing you can do with Mike is watch him play and see how well he moves. Then Mike, just by the nature of Mike's height, there are times when Mike has to slide to get a throwing lane, which I'm sure Nick has watched some of that and he's benefited from seeing it. So Nick's been player of the week twice. He's had his cleats sent to the Hall of Fame, he's now player of the month. How is he taking it?
PAT SHURMUR: Nick's the same. Again, I prefer it in a quarterback. He's very business‑like, very matter of fact. You know, coaches and players at times their emotions go up and down. And somebody somewhere has to keep calm. I think that's what Nick does. He has a calm presence. Though he has the ability to express his emotions of happiness or displeasure in ways that sometimes aren't obvious, and I think that's important too. But I don't think you'll see anything different from Nick.
How proud are you of how far he's come from the time he was in training camp? Didn't know if he'd be quarterback or not, but steps into a tough situation and excels to get to the point where he's at now where he's the clear‑cut guy?
PAT SHURMUR: I think I'm proud of the fact that he's helping us win football games. I think I see the way he works throughout the week to make himself better, and obviously when he plays well, we have our best chance to win games. I think that's what I'm proud of. It's a process. I like to think of it as our regular season mission here. We've got about 30 or a little over 30 days left in it and we'll see where we're at.
He's approached it the right way. If you've got a chance to be a good football team, you need that from your quarterback.
In the last game, I think LeSean McCoy had five times where he was tackled behind the line of scrimmage and several others where he dodged defenders and made plays. What are some of the reasons that defenders are able or have been able to get behind them?
PAT SHURMUR: Certainly, we don't want any minus-yardage plays and there are times ‑‑ and it's multiple. There are reasons that could be multiple. It could be an extra defender. We could have -- maybe not blocked it properly. Maybe he ran out of the hole. There are a lot of different reasons for it. But he's been tackled behind the line at times, but we've also seen him make people miss and gain yardage, and I think that's what you get with his running style.
Have there been too many of those minus plays or is that just the nature of the way he runs?
PAT SHURMUR: We don't want minus-yardage plays, and we'll do what we can as coaches and players to eliminate those. I wouldn't say that's the case.
Is there something about the way teams play you guys that makes that wheel route with McCoy so effective?
PAT SHURMUR: I don't know if it's the way – [against] certain coverages, that route is better than others. I think you play man coverage and he runs outside the number one receiver and the guy covering him has got to work through some traffic or noise. It can be effective.
Foles hasn't had many balls batted down the line. Any direct result of how you guys practice with the fly swatters?
PAT SHURMUR: I think that has an effect. Anytime you're practicing with distractions, then in the game it helps you. So anything you can do to simulate the game, because there are times when we're going to have Calais Campbell, we'll have some tall guys rushing us. But I think guys get used to ‑‑ no matter how tall you are as a quarterback, and this is something that I think gets lost, no matter how tall you are as a quarterback, you throw in lanes because the ball just comes out. So whether you're 6‑foot‑tall or 6'5", you have to throw in lanes. It's very difficult to throw over people. I think Nick has developed a good feel for that.
If you look at the first 11 games, which cornerback is most comparable to Patrick Peterson in terms of the way he'll play DeSean Jackson?
PAT SHURMUR: Oh, I don't know. I'll have to wait to see. I don't know what their strategy is going to be yet. I think you're going under the assumption that he'll track DeSean. There is a good chance that will happen, but we'll have to see. He's a top‑flight cornerback. He's got to be one of the best cornerbacks in the league. I played against him quite a bit. We played against Arizona in that scheme. I was in St. Louis back when Billy Davis was the coordinator there, and there are still some of the same players. Obviously, Patrick's only been in the league a couple years, but he's a top cornerback. The reason he's a top cornerback is he can get up in your face and play bump and run, so we'll have to defeat that.
DeSean's always has been one of the league's most dangerous vertical threats. But this season, he seems to be coming more of a complete receiver. He's been a red zone factor for you guys. He's been one of your most productive third down receivers. How much is the offense, and how much is it of him evolving as a receiver and maturing?
PAT SHURMUR: I think it's both. He's running a lot of the same routes he's always run, but he's also, I think, become a better route runner in a lot of ways. I think he's worked on his game quite a bit then we'll just have to see at the end of the season. We're just not sending them deep, so we're crossing the field with him. He's running short and intermediate routes that would involve any receiver. But I think it's a credit to him. I've mentioned it before in here that I really have been pleased with the way he's trained himself to get ready to play each week, and he's making the most of his opportunities.
Can you talk about the challenge for quarterbacks and specifically Foles in this case as they have more starts under their belt and there is more tape on them and maybe the tendencies get studied more. Is that a real thing? What is the key to navigating through that?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, I think you balance that with the fact that he's got more experience. I think at this point of the season there are certain things that we do, and then we do them all the time. Then there are other things that we do that match‑up specifically with the defense that we're going to play. So we're all trying to punch, counter‑punch each other. So I think that involves a quarterback as well.