What did you see when you looked at your quarterbacking over the bye week? How did you evaluate what QB Sam Bradford has done so far and what he needs to do?
COACH SHURMUR: I think [QB] Sam [Bradford] is making improvements each week. We look at it from the fundamentals standpoint, from the accuracy of the throws, being more familiar with the concepts and the progressions, and I think he's making improvement.
The last three games you have played nearly 40% of the offensive snaps out of 12 personnel. What has precipitated that?
COACH SHURMUR: Again, it was the opponents we're playing against. We felt like it would be a smart thing to do; we have our reasons for it.
It was also the utilization of our roster and getting those tight ends in the game, which I think we did a good job with that. So it's just a matter of matching up who we're playing against and then trying to use our roster to the best of our ability.
Where do you think the O-line is now compared to the first Dallas game?
COACH SHURMUR: Much better. You can see we're a little bit more coordinated in our blocking schemes, whether it is run plays or pass protection. We're doing a little bit better job of working together and getting to the second level in the run game. I just think we're more coordinated, which comes with guys playing together a longer stretch of time.
When you look at the Dallas Cowboys' film, how much are they moving DE Greg Hardy around and how much has that helped their defense?
COACH SHURMUR: He's obviously their best pass-rusher. He'll play on the edge. He'll play inside. They'll stem him at times. They're trying to utilize his strength where he gets to rush against various different offensive linemen. So they move him around; they're doing a good job with it.
In the backfield, what's the ideal distribution between RB DeMarco Murray and RB Ryan Mathews?
COACH SHURMUR: I think each game is different. I think they both need to play. I think they both can be efficient and dynamic. So we just got to try to get them both in there. I don't know if it's equal, but I think they both need to play.
Can you hop on the radio and overrule running backs coach Duce Staley in terms of how the snaps are being divvied up?
COACH SHURMUR: I think that has been misunderstood. When we go into a game, we sit down and plan how we're going to do things. Then we utilize the backs throughout the game based on how they're doing, how they're feeling at times.
It changes as the game goes on. If a guy is having a little bit of an issue, maybe nobody knows that, so you play the other guy more.
We talk about it constantly; it's a constant communication. It's like the old fallacy that you just make halftime adjustments. Adjustments are being made constantly.
So you have the ability to do that? You or Head Coach Chip Kelly?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, we all talk about it all the time. Absolutely.
Do you go with the hot hand sometimes?
COACH SHURMUR: With a running back sometimes, if a running back is in a groove, you let him go maybe a snap or two more than you had planned. But that still doesn't mean you don't sub in the other guys.
You mentioned the second-level blocking from the offensive line. What was preventing them from doing that? Is there anything specific or was it just about guys getting acclimated to the scheme?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, it's a combination. Usually if you're just blocking one guy, you're not working with anyone. But typically on mate blocks or zone blocks, where you're working a first-level defender to a second-level defender, it takes a while to kind of coordinate the path of the back and then how the linebacker's running based on whether we're under center or in the shotgun. So, it just takes a while to coordinate that. As you work together with somebody, just like we're getting better [Shurmur and the media] working together here [laughter], the longer you're around somebody and the more you work together, the better you become.
The stats suggest that RB Ryan Mathews has been more productive than RB DeMarco Murray --
COACH SHURMUR: You had a whole week to look at numbers, didn't you? [Laughter]
I did. At what point does the production on the field factor into how you split that playing time?
COACH SHURMUR: We play the guys – And like I said, I think the production numbers after the fact are easy to look at. We go into a game anticipating certain things are going to happen and then we play the guys. We try to do what we can to win the game. I think that's the way – You know, it takes a village. You've got to play all the running backs when you're running the ball like we want to. So, you know, whether one gets a handful more than the other, in our minds it really doesn't quite matter, as long as they're both playing and they're both contributing.
Let's not forget Darren [RB Darren Sproles], too. He needs to be involved.
Very often it takes a rookie wide receiver time to adapt to playing at this level. Do you expect rookie WR Nelson Agholor to make a bigger impact in the second half of the season?
COACH SHURMUR: I think so, much like we saw Jordan [WR Jordan Matthews] do a year ago. Now, Nelson has been dealing with an injury, as well, which may slow things down just a touch. But we feel like the second half of the year is going to be good for him once he gets back on the field.
Do you expect to have T Jason Peters this week?
COACH SHURMUR: We're hoping to. He was out here yesterday. We anticipate he'll be out here today. Again, I'm waiting to see what comes through the door, a little bit.
How do you fix the drops? There was a lot of talk about guys getting away during the bye week and maybe that helping the mental aspect of it. Is there something different that you guys will do moving forward to try to alleviate that?
COACH SHURMUR: No, we just keep working on it. Try to just keep eyes and fingers, focus on a small point, catch it, pluck it and tuck it. All the things you work on.
These guys are pros. They're here because they've displayed the ability to catch the football. We know they can do it. They've just got to go out and do it; keep repping it and practicing it, like they do. Then just make it happen in the games.
Do you see the drops showing up on the practice field?
COACH SHURMUR: There's always an occasional drop on the practice field, but not like it's happened. So we just keep working on it. You keep talking to the guys about how to catch the football. In our training sessions you have them execute it. When they're done, we talk about why it was good or why it was bad.
Then you just keep going through that process. We anticipate it will go away.
Looking at the first Dallas game, how much change --
COACH SHURMUR: Did we have to? [Joking] Oh my gosh. [Laughter]
How much did you have to change things schematically based on what they did to you?
COACH SHURMUR: You know, we did a lot of things. We hurt ourselves in a lot of ways. We had some really bizarre, bad things happen to us – or that we allowed to happen – where it doesn't matter who you're playing.
Dallas, give them credit, they did a good job. The score was within reach into the fourth quarter. We had our opportunities to score and we had a snap issue and then we had a turnover.
We just go back. Anytime you play the opponent the second time within the division, you go back and you look at the game. If you won, you try to recreate what you did. If you lost, you try to really dig in and look at why and try to keep that from happening.
But I've always believed, 'It's first things first.' As cliché as it sounds, we've got to get lined up properly, we've got to snap the football, whoever is responsible for the mesh has to take care of it, we have to block guys, the quarterback has to throw and the receivers have to catch.
If we do all the first things first, then I think it doesn't matter who our opponent is, our results will be much better. I think that's sort of what we fell victim to in our first Dallas game.
The outside zone run hasn't been productive for RB DeMarco Murray. When you looked at the film during the bye week, what do you see in there?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, we're an inside-zone, kind of a man-block-sweep type team where we feature the mid-zone or outside-zone run against teams where we feel like it's going to be effective. I think we're making improvements there.
When you talk about DeMarco specifically, he's much healthier now than he was early in the season. We anticipate that he'll make better runs than he did early.
So DeMarco's health was holding him back earlier?
COACH SHURMUR: I wouldn't say that. He's healthier now though. He was healthy enough to play when he played. Nobody's totally healthy when they're out there after the first snap of the game.
We were told that he didn't have any health issues.
COACH SHURMUR: He's healthier now and he's feeling better about things.
You can't be healthier now if you weren't at least a little unhealthy –
COACH SHURMUR: I feel better now than I did earlier in the year, but I wasn't hurt. You know what I mean? I think that's where I'm going.
Do you view the drops as more of a statistical anomaly than anything else?
COACH SHURMUR: We've got to get them corrected.
Like sometimes you hit the red lights coming to work, sometimes you hit the green lights. Is it just something that happens?
COACH SHURMUR: That's a good way to put it. Or you just run them all, you know (laughter). You can do that in South Philly, I guess. You can just run them all.
No, I think so. I'd like to hope that's the case because we've seen these guys catch the ball very, very well and at a high level throughout their careers and they've done it for us. We've just got to get those bad plays out of their system.
Then is there a challenge to keep it from getting into their heads?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah. I think so. I think everything starts with a thought and they've got to get those bad ones out of there.
Do you see teams doing different things with their linemen and linebackers to prevent your linemen from getting to that second level or is it just a communication issue?
COACH SHURMUR: No, it's just working together. I don't think there's anything specific we're seeing when we play the team that we didn't see prior to preparing for them. So I don't think it's there.
How much of that changes when you have to move a guy in the middle of the game like G/T Matt Tobin from guard to tackle?
COACH SHURMUR: That's always a challenge when you got to kind of move guys around like we've had to the last couple of weeks.
That's why we're out here training. Everybody just doesn't play their same spot, especially that sixth and seventh guy. They're getting reps at all the spots they could play in the game and that's what these sessions are for.
I know you said that if T Lane Johnson every played left tackle in a game, that you would like to get him some reps in practice. At what point would you need to get him those reps if T Jason Peters can't go? How late in the week?
COACH SHURMUR: We do it throughout. We'll make sure we do get his reps at left tackle so that he's ready to play there if need be. So we do it throughout the week.
Every week Johnson gets reps at left and right?
COACH SHURMUR: Absolutely. Absolutely. All our tackles work both right and left, so...
There was a play in the last Dallas game where C Jason Kelce stepped back after the snap to pull and he gets blasted in the backfield and is then unable to get to the second level. Is that just a defensive tackle beating a guy to a spot and knocking him backwards?
COACH SHURMUR: I think the play you're talking about, he was going to the right. We were running a zone play and he kind of made a man-block adjustment and there was penetration there. That's why he got knocked off.
That just happens?
COACH SHURMUR: It's just a bad play. Get back in the huddle, call another one. That was a bad play.
You guys don't huddle --
COACH SHURMUR: [Joking] Alright, well, you get on the line, get another one called and do it better. That's all.