Q. In terms of routes run and catches and yards, WR Nelson Agholor is last in the NFL. Why is that?**
COACH SHURMUR: You know, he had the injury. He's coming back from the injury. He's out there competing. I think he continues to get better physically each week. Last week, for most of the game, he was playing against [Cardinals CB] Patrick Peterson. He actually did some good things against him. But we weren't really throwing that direction.
Q. What does that say, that even though his numbers aren't looking very good, the other team puts their best corner on him.
COACH SHURMUR: I mean, they're going to put their best corner on somebody. I felt like we were successful in a lot of ways throwing the ball. We just went other directions. But Nelson is going to be a really fine player in this league. You see as young players go through, you know, that first and second year, we're even seeing lots of growth in [WR] Jordan Matthews and [WR] Josh Huff in their second years. So those first couple of years for a wide receiver are important. His growth just got slowed by the injury.
Q. You mentioned that he's going to be a good player in the league, but he's playing as many snaps as anybody on offense.
COACH SHURMUR: Young guy, fresh legs. I know that.
Q. Is he being pushed into a situation that he's not ready to handle?
COACH SHURMUR: No, I don't think so. I don't think it's too big for him. I think he continues to get better each week.
Q. The right wide receiver spot the last couple years has been very productive. Why not this year?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, again, last week we know why, all right? I do think we're going other places with the ball. I think when you have guys in and out, you know, sometimes you don't get that consistency with the quarterback. We're breaking in a lot of other new pieces to our offense. You know, I don't think there's anything to be said [that] we're going away from it or not going there as much. Other guys are just getting production.
Q. Is the quarterback not throwing the ball in that direction or are the plays not designed to go to Nelson?
COACH SHURMUR: Typically our plays are formatted right side, left side, depending on what hash we're on or where we're at. It is on the wide receiver to get open. If the play is designed to go to the right, typically that route is in conjunction with the concept that, you know, they may take away that route and you throw it someplace else. Again, we look at all those things. We always try to look and see where the ball is going. We had seven receivers catch balls the other night. So we're looking at that.
Q. How disappointing is it, or is it disappointing, that none of the outside receivers have been able to make a big impact?
COACH SHURMUR: I think we continue to look for each position to make an equal amount of impact, you know. Certainly, I think Jordan's done some good things for us. [TE] Zach [Ertz] has done some good things on the inside. You'll notice quite a bit, we'll put Zach by himself, then we'll put all three receivers to one side, where now we really only have one outside receiver involved. So, you know, we look at it just a little bit differently. We want everybody to have great production. The challenge is, is when you don't get great production, okay, how do you handle it? You just keep working.
Q. You had good success with your outside receivers in the first Washington game. Why was that?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, I think we were running the ball better than certainly we did last week. We were able to play-action and get behind them. We hit a couple of deep posts against them, which I remember there were some conversations about how nice it was that we were throwing the ball deep. See a lot of head bobs, too.
Q. What is QB Sam Bradford doing better in terms of anticipation throws?
COACH SHURMUR: When you see anticipatory throws, when you see balls thrown where he anticipates, or you see balls thrown where it's based on a guy being covered like [TE] Brent [Celek] was, but he sees leverage, you're starting to see a comfort level with the guys you're throwing to. I think that's running parallel with the fact that he's healthier now, in my opinion, he's in better control of his own body, and he's much more aware of what the receivers are going to do. So those things run in parallel. You see a guy that's throwing the ball, in my opinion, extremely accurately, and he's doing it better each week.
Q. On Sunday, Sam took some big hits, but it seemed like he kept his eyes down the field. Do you see that as a big change?
COACH SHURMUR: I was with him in his rookie year, as we all know. I've seen him. He took some shots his whole career all the way through from when he was a rookie. Sam's not a burly guy. But I'm telling you, he's extremely courageous. When you can see a quarterback keep his eyes downfield when he knows he's going to take a pretty good whack, that's what you're looking for. When a quarterback's eyes start to drop, then you got problems. He doesn't do that.
Q. You say you saw some growth in Jordan and Josh in the second year.
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah.
Q. Can you define where you've seen that growth exactly?
COACH SHURMUR: Just on a day-to-day basis, how they train. I saw Jordan Matthews grow this year because he had that little area in the season when he was dropping some balls. I saw him kind of work through that. I've seen growth in him. You know, when I see Jordan, I see a humble guy that was a walk-on that went to Vanderbilt and made good. I see a guy that competes all the way through the game. I think just see that. The same thing with Josh. I think he's becoming more and more productive as we go. There's certain things that he does that we're able to throw more, you know. He's done a good job catching slants, all the kind of catch-and-run type stuff. But it's taken him to grow so that we trust doing that. I think we've seen that in Josh.
Q. In Sam's case, the only time he's played meaningful December football really was that 2010 season. What do you recall from those last two weeks back in 2010 in terms of his demeanor?
COACH SHURMUR: He's dialed in, just like he is now, very dialed in. These are big days, these training days, where he gets a feel for the concepts we're going to call and how it's going to fit against the defense that we're going to play. His adjusted runs, which he does a lot of for us, you know, getting us into the right run. Just all the preparation. Sam's a very dialed-in, kind of a quiet cerebral, thoughtful guy. It's the same.
Q. He was sacked five times in the first Washington game.
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah.
Q. How many of those probably wouldn't happen if it was now and he was where he is as far as his awareness and his confidence?
COACH SHURMUR: I think there would be fewer sacks than there were in the first game. I think he would be able to move around; not necessarily run away, but maybe slide in the pocket or push up in the pocket better than he did at that time. Certainly we'll do a better job of blocking him.
Q. We saw quite a bit of that quick pitch flip. What are some of the advantages of that?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, there are teams where we'll use it for reasons. Sometimes I think it's important just to get the ball quickly on the edge. We run our sweep play, we really can hand that ball off across the formation, we can hand it off on the same side or we can pitch it. We just kind of look at the defense. Some games, it's better to hand it off, crossing the formation. Some games, it's better on the same side. Some games, it's better pitching it. We just kind of pick the way we think is best.
Q. One RB DeMarco Murray question, sorry.
COACH SHURMUR: This is late in the press conference for the first one (laughter).
Q. Is there any team where he would be a featured back at this point? Is there any matchup, any opponent where he would be the guy that we expected?
COACH SHURMUR: I don't know. You know, I can only speak for our team. When you look around the league, though, [RB] Steven Jackson just signed with the Patriots. Backs get banged up. Teams that have one maybe and they use him a lot, they tend to get hurt. We're fortunate at this time of year, we've got our full stable of guys ready to go. So I don't know.
Q. So you're trying to keep him healthy?
COACH SHURMUR: We try to, yes, so that when they're in there, they're fresh. That's sort of our approach. If we had one running back that was far and away better than the other ones, then you would see probably a guy get the very, very most of the snaps. We just happen to have guys that we think are good and we don't mind when they're in there. I think [RB] Ryan [Mathews] was in the game, and he had over five yards a carry. [RB] Darren [Sproles] didn't really get as much going running the ball, but he's certainly a threat when you pass it. Had we been able to run the ball more and get more plays, we were down around 60 plays, you know, they had one running back that carried in the high 20s. But they had way more plays. The score was more in their favor. They didn't have to throw it as much. So that's sort of the story of that game.
Q. DeMarco was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year last year, a guy you signed to a big contract.
COACH SHURMUR: All that was last year. All that was last year and that was in his situation in Dallas. I've got a great deal of respect for DeMarco. We need him to play at his best. When he's out there, we need him to put good reps on the field for us. So, that's where we're at. Last year's last year. Next year will be another story. We're at the end of this year and we need him at his best. That's where we're at.
Q. You've had both; you've had the one guy like Steven Jackson, you had Duce Staley in Philadelphia. Now you have more than one. What do you like better, having one guy that is your bell cow you can go to all the time?
COACH SHURMUR: I think having a couple of backs that are really good is the way to go. I said it before: I think it takes a village because you've got to be able to put them in there and let them work.
Q. You've had success with just that one guy, too.
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, we got a lot of rushing yards. Sometimes you don't necessarily score a lot of points. I think that's the thing that we've got to keep in mind. This game is about being able to attack the defense and score points. I've been on teams where you've gone into small stretches of the season and say, 'You know what, we're going to run it, run it, run it and we're going to play good defense, keep the score close and try to win it with the last drive.' [NBA Hall of Famer] Michael Jordan missed a lot of three-pointers at the end of games, you know. Philosophically, that's not what we are.
Q. On the fourth-and-one play, they stacked the box. Was there an option there for Sam to change the play and throw?
COACH SHURMUR: No. In that situation, you know, that formation that we presented, we typically run inside-zone. We chose to run mid-zone. They did a good job of getting penetration. We didn't do a good job of disallowing that. That's really the answer.
Q. Is there a sacrifice that you have when you play tempo as far as your pre-snap flexibility in exchange for keeping a defense off balance by going one play, one play?
COACH SHURMUR: If you were purely tempo and purely playing fast, that would be the case. But we have plenty of ways where we can, especially on 'P and 10' or to start a series, where we can get in the best play. We do that quite a bit actually.
Q. As a follow-up to the running back question, you said if there is a clear difference, it would show up. There was a clear difference in terms of playing time between Darren, Ryan and then DeMarco. Is there a clear difference in talent?
COACH SHURMUR: No, you know, if we could go back on it, certainly we'd like them all to have more carries.
Q. DeMarco specifically.
COACH SHURMUR: Well, if we had to go back on it, it would be nice for him to get in there a little bit more. It didn't happen, right? Part of it was because we did not run the ball or have as many plays as we wanted, all right? I admire your persistence on this, I really do. You are such a bulldog when it comes to this (laughter).
Q. When you talk about the score of the game, Murray didn't even get in.
COACH SHURMUR: I'm with you. I'm with you. I get it. I get it.
Q. It was 10-10 in the middle of the second quarter and Murray hadn't played yet.
COACH SHURMUR: Some of it is situational as well. We got into some clutch situations where we were throwing a little bit more, then Darren goes in. I get it.
Q. Is Murray mentally still all there?
COACH SHURMUR: Absolutely. I spoke to him yesterday. Speak to him on a daily basis. He's really good now. When he comes in, he trains, he's doing what he's supposed to do. But he's like any other guy: wants the ball every play and is disappointed when he doesn't get it or doesn't get it as much as he thinks he should have. We all get that. Trying to make a guy care, that's harder than a guy that cares and deals with it after. That's sort of where we're at.
Q. You talked about the fact that out of these three backs, you don't have a guy that is head and shoulders above the best. Would you have expected at the beginning of the season DeMarco to be that guy?
COACH SHURMUR: We expected to have a stable of backs where we could put them in there and either throw it to them, hand it to them or if we choose to throw the ball, they could pass protect. We think all of them can do it.
Q. So Murray came in yesterday?
COACH SHURMUR: I talked to him. I talked to him.
Q. Here or...
COACH SHURMUR: I just talked to him, okay? It wasn't like we met for breakfast or anything. There's a lot of ways you can talk to somebody (laughter). It doesn't really matter. I talked to him.
Q. Back to the fourth-and-one, did Sam have any option at all? If he would have seen something that might have worked better, could he have checked out?
COACH SHURMUR: That play was designed to run the football for a yard and we didn't do a good enough job. There's a lot of plays where you have the ability to adjust the run or check to a pass. But we were trying to run the football there.
Q. Who initiated the call between you and DeMarco?
COACH SHURMUR: We talked. You know, really, I've never made it my policy to talk about anything in public that I speak to another player about. Ever. So that's all. But we all talk to him. [Running Backs Coach] Duce [Staley] has spoken to him. [Head Coach] Chip [Kelly] has spoken to him. It's not like you might think outside the building. We have a good working relationship. He's out here trying to get better. He's in the moment, trying to prepare to put together a good week, go out and beat Washington. That's what it's all about.
Q. Because of the situation with him, though, would you have normally talked to him?
COACH SHURMUR: I talk to him all the time. I talk to him all the time.
Q. So it's not because he got two carries in the game?
COACH SHURMUR: No. I speak to those guys almost on a daily basis. That shouldn't be surprising. I only speak to you once a week because I'm only here once a week. If we were all together in a meeting, we would talk every day, right? Doesn't that seem to make sense?
Q. So on that fourth-and-one play, there were 10, 11 guys in the box. It was a run call.
COACH SHURMUR: We were attempting to run the football, like happens a lot of times in short-yard situations where you block them, then you stick it up in there and fight for a yard. That's what we were planning on doing. It would have been nice if we would have made it, right? Keep the drive alive, get points. But there were other critical points in the game that affected the outcome, as well.
Q. When you looked back at that play, was it a fundamentally-sound play that just wasn't blocked right?
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, we had hats on guys. It was just a matter of us making sure we'd do a little better job of disallowing penetration. There was a crease in there we've just got to hit.