Q. It seems like after the injuries, the offensive line had some communication issues, guys being left unblocked. How do you get that fixed in one week and do you think you have a handle on that now?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, when you look at that game in total, I thought the guys that came in actually did a pretty decent job. They were asked to play different positions. There were a couple plays early in the game, you saw the one where [Redskins LB Ryan] Kerrigan came through, and we had a little miscommunication there. But for the most part they were trying and they were pretty good about getting on the right guys. We had some physical breakdowns which happened throughout the game, but for the most part those guys that went in did pretty decent.
Q. Where do you go against guys like Kerrigan who like to stunt inside and stuff? Maybe it was because T Lane Johnson wasn't his normal self with his knee, would you rather try to jump guys like that?
PAT SHURMUR: The one where he came free was a pressure where they took the defensive ends and moved them into the A gap. We were aware of where he was at, we just didn't do a good job of getting to him. And then we knew. They weren't a big pressure team, so we went into it knowing there were going to be line stunts involved.
Q. At the time you signed RB DeMarco Murray, what did you think his workload was going to be like this year?
PAT SHURMUR: I didn't know. I don't think any of us knew. We signed him as a good player to come in and play football for us. So we didn't really project what it was going to be because we feel like we need multiple good running backs to play for us.
Q. What's taking your offense so long in each game?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, that's been a little bit of a theme. I think what happens is we don't convert on third down. You see in the second half where we've been able to kind of stay on the field and extend drives and score points. We converted on third down. Now there are multiple reasons for that. It could be a longer third down because you didn't do so well on first or second, or it could be a manageable third down and you don't execute that play. So it's a combination of things. We're searching to make sure we get that right. Kind of do the things we're doing in the second half to start the game.
Q. WR Josh Huff was only on the field for a handful of plays. Was it the hamstring that was acting up?
PAT SHURMUR: No, there was no reason. I think it was more the flow of the game. We had guys in there and we found a way to get some deep balls. I think the guys that were in there, that just ended up being the rotation for the day. But there was nothing to it.
Q. You're using a lot more 11 personnel this year and not a lot of two tight end sets. What is driving that decision?
PAT SHURMUR: Some of it is the scheme we're facing. We felt there are teams when you play against teams that are 3 4 teams like our own, where there are five guys on the line when you put Tiger out there or two tight end sets they stay big on you. So what we like to do sometimes is play zebra or get to three wides and then get more of a four man front where we feel like we have more options. But some of that is the way it works and some of it is the personnel we have available.
Q. Did Washington mainly stay in their base defense?
PAT SHURMUR: No, they went to nickel. There were a couple of random snaps where they'll go to base. But for the most part they're a match team, and most teams in the league are.
Q. Do you expect T Jason Peters this week?
PAT SHURMUR: I don't know what to expect. They're constantly trying to get themselves out here. I don't ever know sometimes during the day because we do this press conference in the middle of the day. Who is going to be out there. But hopefully he's back.
Q. Is Huff making the progress you want to see? This seems to be a big leap year for him and he really hasn't had that step forward yet?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, he hasn't had the production maybe. I think he's doing a lot of things better than he did a year ago. He's been dealing with the injury a little bit as well. So, again, we're four games into it, so we'll have to see.
*Q. He started out in camp with the ones. Now he's not really even part of the *
PAT SHURMUR: Again, I think it was just the way the game played out. He's part of our plans. We had some things in there for him to do, and then as the game gets rolling, sometimes the guys will play a handful of plays more than we think or handful of plays less. But there is no real reason for it.
Q. If the passing game looks like that when you're challenged down the field, why don't you go down field more often?
PAT SHURMUR: I think some of it has to do with how the teams are playing us. We had some opportunities and we knew that going in of throwing the ball down the field and we took advantage of it.
Q. Have you ever looked at it to just let the receiver make the play?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, we do. There are times when that's the case. There are times when we call routes that are deep to short concepts where they take it away deep and you throw intermediate or short.
Q. What is New Orleans' general philosophy on their safeties?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, again, [Saints defensive coordinator] Rob [Ryan] has this reputation for being very cavalier. When you look at them though, he's gone back to his father's roots. They play a lot of bear defense. They'll play, if you've got one back, they'll play seven close to the line. If you've got two backs or two tight ends, they'll play eight close to the line with a single safety. Then they're one of those teams, they'll challenge the receivers. When they play bump and run, it's true bump and run. They get up there and they get their hands on you. So I think that's philosophically where they're at.
Q. So obviously early in the game, might this be a game where you think about more two tight ends to get those guys in the box?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, I mean, we're going to use both. This could be a game we'll have to see how it plays out. We go into the game though with a balanced, offensive philosophy of using both two tight ends and then three wides. So we'll just see how it plays out. We have some opinions about how we want to play it. We'll just wait to reveal that.
Q. Getting back to the running backs, the one game where you got really good production was a game that DeMarco didn't play in, and Ryan Mathews had 24, 25 carries. Is there something to be said for a guy getting into a rhythm, getting the bulk of the workload and getting production that way?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, I don't know about that. I think the runners that we have can get the carries that they get and make good plays out of them. I don't think we have that one runner. A lot of times that's what gets talked about when you only have one runner and you just keep getting to it. I think in total our running game, the more you run the football and the more success you're having with it, the better the runs look regardless of who the back is.
Q. On Murray's 30-yard run, what did you see as the key blocks that helped spring him?
PAT SHURMUR: We had an inside zone play. I thought we did a good job on the front side. They actually overplayed the front side where we had one defender unblocked and he cut it back into some big open air. So it was blocked properly, and then DeMarco did a good job of cutting the ball back into an area where there wasn't a defender.
Q. How are teams defending TE Zach Ertz?
PAT SHURMUR: I think they're just defensing the concepts. There are times when he's one on one. You saw he made some good catches the other night. Typically when it's one on one or man to man coverage, he'll draw coverage down from a safety or a linebacker type guy.
Q. How's Matt Tobin at left tackle compared to right guard?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, I don't know about comparisons, but I thought when he stepped in and played left tackle, he did a good job.
Q. You've seen him play both now?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, I think he can play both well. And as a back up role player, you may have to play both. So he can do both well.
Q. What has QB Sam Bradford done better in terms of knowing where to go with the ball post-snap?
PAT SHURMUR: Post-snap?
PAT SHURMUR: We'd like him to know pre-snap. But I would say this, I think he's more and more comfortable. He's becoming more and more comfortable with not only the concepts but who is running the concepts. I think there have been times throughout the season when our passing offense fell victim to the drop, and then there have been times when he was off the mark. I think you saw periods within the game last week where we were on the mark and we caught the ball. So I think that's what we're shooting for. But I think he's getting more and more comfortable with how we run our offense, and then the guys he's throwing to.
Q. What do you think WR Nelson Agholor is working through right now as he's early in his rookie season? Was the plan to give him this high amount of snaps going in or was that just kind of how the rest of the receiving corps expressed themselves?
PAT SHURMUR: Nelson's in great physical condition. He can run all day long. He's a tough competitive guy, and he found a way to make some plays for us the other night. He had a couple of errors like everybody on offense. But, yeah. The plan was to use him. He doesn't want to ever come off the field, and he's one of those guys, he tries to gobble up as many reps as possible, and I think that's why when we watch him, he's going to develop quickly and be a good player.
Q. He's basically getting the same amount of snaps that WR Jeremy Maclin had last year and WR DeSean Jackson the year before. Are you getting enough production out of him versus the amount of snaps he's playing?
PAT SHURMUR: We want to get more production out of everybody. And I think if we do some of the things we talked about earlier, staying on the field, extending drives, getting more plays then you can just do the math. If you have more plays, the ball can spread around and everybody can get more touches.
Q. The formation penalty he took, did you tell him to check with the official on his position there?
PAT SHURMUR: Yeah.
Q. It looked like the whole time he was just looking at Ertz.
PAT SHURMUR: No, there was some conversation about the alignment, because as you saw, Ertz kind of got over there and got lined up. I think the key to that play is we need to make it crystal clear for the official where I'm either on or I'm off. So we want nothing that we do do we want to bring the officials' judgment into it. So whatever you've got to do to be crystal clear. I'm on or I'm off. Typically outside receivers do have conversations with the officials. I'm going to leave it at that.
Q. If Lane got hurt and he couldn't have gone back in, who would have taken over right tackle? Would you shuffle guys around a little?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, [G/T] Dennis Kelly went in. We only had – [G] Josh Andrews, you can do the math on that. You know, when you've got seven up, I mean, even Michigan State. I can do the math on that, you know. When you've got seven and you get two hurt, it's the next two.
Q. But Andrews would have been right tackle or right guard?
PAT SHURMUR: No, we've got guys that are multiple. We feel like Dennis Kelly can play tackle, and then we saw Tobin can play tackle. At that point you're just piecing it together.
Q. Do you think Sam Bradford has the mind to have the playbook completely in his head or whatever amount of plays he needs to go on a particular play to be able to check into whatever types of play based on a pre-snap read?
PAT SHURMUR: Absolutely, absolutely. He's very smart. He's very, very football smart. He's like anybody. I think on our offense right now you want to make a couple less mistakes and make a couple more plays.
Q. Did he have that in St. Louis?
PAT SHURMUR: He did. He did.
Q. Tempo is such a big part of what you guys do. You've got guys banged up out there. Was there ever any thought that slowing it down might help those guys be in a better position?
PAT SHURMUR: That question has been asked before. We train our guys to play at the pace that we play. When they go in as backups and become starters, they're aware of it and they know how to line up. I guess if guys were doing the wrong thing all the time that would be a concern. You know, but no.
Q. Under the drops, drops are unexplainable. You've got professional guys out there trying to catch the balls. Can you explain this rash of drops in any way?
PAT SHURMUR: You kind of answered my question thank goodness. You said they're unexplainable. I know we spend a lot of time. And every skill player spends a great portion of their day in their training sessions catching the football, and we have the drills for it. It's just a matter of doing it and avoiding the drops. There can't be any anxiety. All the things you talk about. Focus on a small point on the ball. Grip it and tuck it and all those things. So you just keep working on it. You know, typically whatever you work on will show up. We've just got to avoid it. Because we can point to that as some of what's going on, and we've got to avoid it.
Q. On Nelson's big catch, what was the coverage that Washington was in and how was he able to get over the top?
PAT SHURMUR: On the post throw?
PAT SHURMUR: We ran a big play-action and the safety got really wrapped up. [WR] Jordan [Matthews] was on the other side of the field running an over route and the safety sort of got wrapped up with that. Jordan did a good job of nodding his post to keep the corner outside, and Sam made a good throw. Threw it nice and tight down the alley, and he certainly made a great catch.
Q. If you think back to gameplanning against the Saints in 2013, what stood out about S Malcolm Jenkins on film and preparing for the Saints?
PAT SHURMUR: Well, he's a very smart player. He was kind of the guy that got their defense going. We did the research on him behind the scenes, he was sort of the captain of that crew, but he's got very good instincts. He's an outstanding tackler, and you could just tell by the way he played, he was the guy that got them organized in the back end. So all the things we're seeing from him now, we saw in that game when they played us.
News and notes to chew on as NFL Draft prep hits the homestretch
5 notes to consider as league's most important weekend nears.