COACH SHURMUR: Some of these you might have heard, but after the game Coach Kelly talked about one down, one to go, and our mindset each week has been very, very narrow in terms of our focus. All our focus is on Detroit and making sure we put the players and coaches ‑‑ we put the best version of ourselves on the field on Sunday so that we can play well and hopefully win. And you can't do that unless you prepare well and that's why today and the rest of the week's very important. So that's where we're at. Be happy to take your questions.
I think Foles in the second half was like six out of 14 and had the pick called back. He threw for 60 yards or something like that. What did you see from him in that half? Was it him doing anything different or just the circumstances?
COACH SHURMUR: No, you know, our mindset in terms of how we were playing offense was the same as the first half. We were trying to move the ball and score points. We were running the ball. We were throwing the ball. We didn't execute at a high level like we did on the first drive, the drive before the half and then of course the drive to start the second half. So I wouldn't read into that.
This Detroit defensive line, what do you see from them on tape?
COACH SHURMUR: They have been talked about great for all the right reasons, I mean, [Nick] Fairley and [Ndamukong] Suh, and they have got numerous defensive ends that they are good, they try to create pressure with a four‑man rush and then play coverage behind it that's not quite as ‑‑ you know, they don't put themselves at risk at times for big plays. They are good players. They are good pass rushers. But I know our guys will be up to the challenge of blocking them.
Is everything they do based off the two guys up front? Is that where it all starts?
COACH SHURMUR: They will talk about that. When you have four rushers that can get pressure, then, you know, you don't have to do as many crazy things in the back end or you don't have to pressure near as much as you would if you don't have dynamic guys that can rush the passer.
Are they wide-nine 100 percent of the time?
COACH SHURMUR: That scheme, you can probably characterize that scheme ‑‑ there we go again, we want to take somebody's scheme and make it one phrase. But they play a nine technique a good bit of the time but they will also play a six and a seven.
Does the fact that they ran that scheme here for two years, does that help the linemen who have been here know what to expect?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, throughout the last few years, all the way back to when Monte Kiffin was coaching at Tampa Bay, it was that type of scheme where they play the nine technique and rush the passer. The defensive line coach that was here a year ago, Jim Washburn, has familiarity with what they are trying to do in Detroit from being with Schwartz back in Tennessee. So, you know, we all kind of cross paths on that, the guys of used to blocking it from last year of course, but we faced it throughout.
What's the difference with Zach Ertz? Is he just becoming more and more comfortable and confident with football at this level?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, I think he's getting better each day, and I think production comes in bunches and he had some opportunities last Sunday and made the best of them but he's getting better and better each day. He made a handful of mistakes in the game on Sunday just like every player and every coach, so he has things he has to get better at. He had opportunities to catch the football, some of them in tight coverage and he made good plays.
We saw Brad Smith on the play inside the 10-yard line ‑‑ what's the vision for using him within the offense? What do you see?
COACH SHURMUR: That was just a play that we put him in there, thought we could maybe utilize his skills. He did those types of things when he was in college and he's done it in other places he's been. We're just trying to get our guys on the field and use their skills to the best of their ability.
A couple of the players were saying after the Cardinals game that the Cardinals defense did a pretty good job of figuring things out pretty early and it seemed like they were right on top of plays. Do you have to go back and maybe fix ‑‑
COACH SHURMUR: No, I don't know that. They are a very talented defense and they made some plays against us. We made some plays against them. It was third and 12 when we chose to call a screen and somebody came to the sideline and said they were calling it out. Well, every time it's third and 12, everybody on defense says, 'Watch the screen, watch the draw.' So, I don't know ‑‑ that was a joke by the way, but that actually happened.
How important is route running when you have guys running crossing routes and rub routes to keep the defenses out of man?
COACH SHURMUR: That's one way to beat man coverage. We have a handful of plays that we go to if we are getting a team that's playing a bunch of man against us just like we have routes that we call when we're getting a team that's playing predominately zone. And then there are routes that you'll call that are good against man or zone coverages depending on what the progression is and who you want to get the ball to.
On those routes, how do you teach the receivers to run those so that they are not flagged and what's legal and what's not legal?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, there's a difference between, I don't know what the right word is, rubs or, you know, where two guys are running really close to one another, is that what you're talking about?
COACH SHURMUR: There's a choice of words I've got to use. You want to run really close to one another, that's what you want to do. And then there's other ones where there's just pure crossing routes where guys are just running across the field under or over one another. You just want guys to run really close to one another so the guy covering him as a bow over the top.
When you see Riley Cooper making a one‑handed catch ‑‑
COACH SHURMUR: It's awesome, wasn't it?
Has Cooper exceeded your expectations?
COACH SHURMUR: From the beginning, and again, I wasn't with Riley when I was here before, but from the beginning, he's impressed me. I like big guys. And he's a big guy and he finds a way ‑‑ when it gets thick out there and as the game goes on, everybody kind of gets tired. Riley doesn't get smaller, you know. And I think big guys find a way to make plays when there's people around them.
That specific play, I was like, 'Oh, no, great catch.' It was one of those type of deals. And you know, Riley's a tough, tough guy. And tough guys find a way to make their best plays when the game ‑‑ the game was thick. I mean, that was a tough game.
The offense has not scored in the fourth quarter in the last five games, what do you see there? Is there a common thread?
COACH SHURMUR: I don't know if there's a common thread. In a couple of games we were playing, we were trying to melt the clock. There were a couple games we were ‑‑ so, you know, I wouldn't see that being the thread. There's been times when we've been ahead and we've done a better job of chewing the clock and moving the ball and there's been a couple games that we didn't. And so that's what you work on.
Against Arizona, and the successful drives against the Packers and the Buccaneers, it varies on the time that you have left on the play clock ‑‑ sometimes five, four, two, and as many as like ten, 12 seconds. Do you have to kind of keep the defense off balance and not let them know when the ball is going to be snapped?
COACH SHURMUR: When you're in that mode and again, I'm not saying that's where we were at. We were trying to move the ball and score in this past game. But when you're in four‑minute mode, it's kind of the industry phrase as you know, then you obviously want to try to snap the ball with the clock running as close to zero as possible. That's what you're trying to do, because you're trying to chew up as much clock as possible; of course, move the ball and then of course eventually get a first down or score.
And then there's other times when you're just playing and for whatever reason, the strategy is to get in the best play and it may take a little longer than if you're playing with tempo.
When you play tempo, is it any more difficult to slow down than if you didn't, when you get to a fourth quarter with a lead, after playing a game ‑‑
COACH SHURMUR: No, that's a good question. We've talked about that. I think we're used to playing fast at times and then we're used to playing for us what is normal speed, being a the into huddle operation and I think we effectively in a couple of times did a really good job of really slowing it down where we are in four‑minute mode. The challenge for us is to be efficient no matter what we try, whatever pace we try to play at.
How anxious are you to see how Foles would do against a defense of that caliber and how do you feel like he performed?
COACH SHURMUR: I thought Nick played well. I mean, he obviously contributed in a positive way to us winning. He had a handful of things, some of them obvious to all of us, that, you know, he would like to have back.
But those corrections are easier to make when you win the football game than when you lose. So he's like everybody on the team. We made a heck of a lot of mistakes in that game, especially on offense. And we've got to get it corrected.
When you are evaluating sacks and quarterback takes, Chip mentioned yesterday how he thought Nick did the right thing in eating the ball and taking the sack. How do you figure out how he's making the right decision and not trying to force the ball, or when do you say, he's holding on to the ball too long and he needs to get rid of it better?
COACH SHURMUR: There are times when they just absolutely swamp you. That happens to all good teams. It happens to everybody at times. When you drop back the pass, you may get a hat on everybody but they do a good job of whatever they are doing with their pressure or they are timing it up. Every once in a while, depending on what the route is called, you may have a hat on everyone, but it just collapses around you and you can't get out. There are times when you take a sack there. Now, we coach them not to, try to get the ball off on time, use your feet to scramble, get out of the pact if you can, make a play, keep a downfield focus. We coach all those things but there are times when you just do get sacked and so it's a little bit subjective when we look at it.
In the past few years, and this year in particular, have you seen any changes in the way pass interference is called and defensive holding, too?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, I have my definition of it. And I think there are really talented guys running really close to one another, all the way down the field, and as long as the defender is trying to make a play on the ball, typically there's ‑‑ typically P.I. is not called. But again, it's very subjective, and I think you can argue some of the calls made and some of the ones that aren't made. Hey, it's a game played by humans, officiated by humans and everybody is trying to be perfect and we all know what the rules are. I think the league and the officials do a great job of officiating.
Do you think they are allowing defensive backs to clutch and grab a little more? A lot of players have talked about this recently. Do you think they allow that more this year than years past?
COACH SHURMUR: I wouldn't say, no.
Have you reviewed the tape and looked at the plays and sent certain ones to the league office?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, we have a process we go through at the end of the game, and then, you know, we let Coach [Kelly] handle that.
How about away from the ball; there more contact allowed?
COACH SHURMUR: You know, I don't know. That would be hard to say. There's a lot of ‑‑ when you are playing man‑to‑man coverage, everybody's running with somebody. We all have arms and we tend to use them, both sides.
Going back to what we talked about with the crossing routes, is that something ‑‑ the precision of running the route right, is that spacing or is that kind of innate when guys are running, they just know they can't run into each other? Do you have to work on that specific a lot during camp, especially when you have new personnel?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, you're getting back to the ones where we go really close together, right? Well, we have parameters, right? You and I going to run really close together, then we would tell one guy you go over, one guy you go under. A little bit of precision to that, yeah. Just as easy as don't run into that guy when you're crossing?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes. I feel where you're going there but I don't know how to explain it any better than that. Don't run into each other.
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians sent he sent 15 plays from the past game to the officials. Is that something that you guys do?
COACH SHURMUR: We talk about every play that's run in the game on offense, and then Billy [Davis] does the same thing on defense and then [Dave] Fipp same thing on special teams and then it goes to Coach Kelly. That's a better question for him.