Q. Now that you have some consistency on the offensive line with the same group for a few games and it looks like they'll continue. How much more do you feel like you can do? How much more can you call? How much more do you feel like your guys are able to do?
COACH SHURMUR: Well, I think we're going to run the same offense, call the same plays, but what happens is, and we've talked about it the last few weeks, guys do a little bit better blocking their matchups and then they get used to working together. So we're hopeful that the things we're doing will just look better. And that's sort of where we're at with it.
* Q. Why was the red zone such an adventure on Thursday?*
COACH SHURMUR: You know, I keep saying it, but we just need to execute better. It's been that way. We did a really nice job of moving the ball. I thought we took advantage of tempo. I thought we controlled the pace extremely well. We did some of those things in the red zone.
You've just got to keep working on it. You know, there are individual reasons why, but you know, there are times when you get down there, you run a first [down play], you run a second down play and then it's a third down play for a score or a field goal. It happens. It's sort of like production. You know, you produce well for a while and then we just have to keep working through it.
* Q. Seahawks CB Richard Sherman gets a lot of publicity for that defense and teams have kind of stayed away from him. What will the approach be on Sunday? Will you attack him?*
COACH SHURMUR: Well, we're going to run our offense. We have a healthy respect for who he is as a player. That secondary, that whole secondary, is outstanding. So if you think of it that way, then we're not going to throw the ball anywhere. You know, I think that's the way you have to approach it from our standpoint.
We just have to run our offense. If we call the progression that happens to be over to the right, then we've got to read it out properly and throw it to the open guy, and the same can be said if we call one to the left or one in the middle of the field.
So you know, that's the way we're going to approach it. We certainly have a healthy respect for the fact that he's one of the finest corners in the league, but I do think we've got some good receivers that can go out and match up.
* Q. Why are they so effective running that Cover-3 zone?*
COACH SHURMUR: Well, I think they're a very effective defense because they've got an outstanding secondary. They've got marquee players on every level of the defense. They're very sound defensively, so they don't give up a lot of big plays, and then when you drop back to pass, they're a quick, fast defense that can get pressure on the quarterback. Then you've got long corners out on the perimeter, they're tall.
Other than [FS] Earl Thomas everybody in their secondary is probably over 6'1", you know, when you look at just how they line up. And so when you have length, they do a good job with their hands, it makes it a challenge.
* Q. Have you ever advised a quarterback not to throw to a certain side because a guy was that good?*
COACH SHURMUR: There was a guy that played once, way back in a former life, there was a guy named Deion Sanders that we went into a game and said just absolutely stay away from him. Other than that, you've got to just call your offense.
We've got to play, and we have confidence in our players and we've just got to go out and try to execute.
* Q. As an offensive coach do you measure your team against a defense like this?*
COACH SHURMUR: Well, here's what we're trying to do, and I think the game starts at, what, 4:30? 4:30. So between 4:30 and 7:15, right? What is it, about three hours and 15 minutes, we want to be better than the Seahawks, period, and do what we can to do that. And hopefully if we play things the right way, we'll come out with a victory. And that's what we're trying to do.
Beyond measuring that we're just trying to go out and be better than the Seahawks for that three hours and 15 minutes.
* Q. Do they prefer to get in that nickel defense over their base defense?*
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, they'll play nickel. They're like most teams. They'll try to match up. If we put three receivers on the field, then they'll match up with three DBs, but they'll also play with their base.
I think sometimes teams have to end up playing in base if we end up running a tempo play and they can't get substitutions in.
* Q. Is your tempo affected by the fact that the Seahawks have so many marquee players on defense that have played together for a while and are cohesive? Does that mute the effectiveness of tempo?*
COACH SHURMUR: I don't think so. We try to control pace, and we kind of try to do what we do. But we have a healthy respect -- you know, and part of game planning is evaluating what the matchups are and areas that you want to attack on a defense. And you do it within your scheme. So we do more of one thing and less of another.
You know, and trying to control the pace is just part of what we do.
* Q. In the last eight games you've been really successful on your first and second possessions. How important has that been and do you do as much scripting as former Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid used to do?*
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah, we go in with a set of opening thoughts, and then the game plays out. If you get the ball backed up, then you get to other things.
But yeah, we try to script out the way we want it. And the way we script it out, we like to score touchdowns early. I think everybody does. I think it can be said that the best formula for us is if we can get ahead of a team, I think that's a good thing. Fortunately, in the games that we've played well on offense, we've done that, and that's something that you try to do.
* Q. Is Sherman as good as anybody since Deion Sanders?*
COACH SHURMUR: He's an outstanding player, and he's certainly one of the best corners in the league. You know, I think the effect that he has on the offenses he plays, it's pretty obvious.
* Q. Why was QB Mark Sanchez effective on the ground on the few option plays that he kept the ball and ran?*
COACH SHURMUR: Well, they weren't option plays; they were zone reads. Well, he did a good job of deciding not to give it. And then when he ran with the football, he got yards and got down.
* Q. Was that a game plan thing or was that something you saw during the course of the game and he adjusted?*
COACH SHURMUR: No. We run those type plays every week. There are times when we run it where the read says give it. And so we've run more of those type plays throughout the year [and] just to the casual observer, though, they don't come out as quarterback runs because you end up giving the ball.
* Q. Is it a byproduct of Sanchez's comfort level that he held onto the ball and chose to run in those situations?*
COACH SHURMUR: No. I think he's made good decisions all along. When there's a choice to be made, if they take away one, you do the other. Last Thursday night they took away one and he did the right thing.
* Q. It seemed like those first two drives on Thursday you were going as fast as you have since you guys have been here, as far as pace and tempo. What qualities does Sanchez have that enable him to really kind of run the show at a really high speed?*
COACH SHURMUR: Well, first, I think he came in and he learned our system. Because he's been in there playing as a starter, he's more and more comfortable with the people around him. And the more you do something, the more proficient you get at it, and I think that's just ‑‑ but I do think he's a quick thinker. I think he's a good decision maker, so the ball can come out quickly. And as we've been talking about, he's done a good job of making good decisions in the run game when he's part of the run, you know, scheme.
* Q. How do you evaluate WR Riley Cooper's production this season?*
COACH SHURMUR: I think Coop's played well. I really do. I think you can't just look at the stats sheet and try to measure this year to last year. And that's the only thing I would go on with him. But he's blocked well, he's competed well, and when we've gone his way, he's made plays, so I think he's doing fine.
* Q. Sanchez was rolling left on the touchdown pass that he threw to WR Jordan Matthews. Obviously, he's a right‑handed quarterback. You don't see a lot of guys who are right‑handed be able to roll left and throw that way. Has he always had that ability or is that something you guys have worked on with him?*
COACH SHURMUR: No, that's always been part of his game. He's good on the run, and that's sometimes not easy for right‑handed quarterbacks rolling left, but he actually made a really fine throw to Jordan. It was a tight window, and he had to fit it in there, and he actually did a really nice job with it.
But that's part of what he does. We run our keepers right or left depending on how we format it based on the field and so he actually did a good job.
* Q. You were talking about zone read. For quarterbacks like Nick Foles and Sanchez who are typical, more classic pocket passers, is there a learning adjustment period as far as getting used to running it?*
COACH SHURMUR: It's really much simpler than it sounds. It really is. And you know, I think what's important is regardless of what your skill set is, if you make the decision to pull it, then you get what you can and you get down. So you see it around the league. There are teams now that have followed suit and there are a lot of teams that are doing it.
We saw last night, [Dolphins QB Ryan] Tannehill did it a couple of times. And depending on your level of athletic ability, then that's how much you can get beyond that. But if you do it the right way, you're certainly going to at least get some yards.
* Q. On the touchdown that Sanchez scored, he seemed to pull the ball out of RB LeSean McCoy's belly at the last possible second. Is that something ‑‑*
COACH SHURMUR: Same type play we're talking about. Yeah, and then he did a good job of scoring with it, because when you get close --
* Q. It almost seemed like McCoy thought he was going to get it and he didn't?*
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah. That was a good job, by both of those guys. I think when you get down there nice and tight like we were, then you'll notice from a defensive standpoint, if there is a post player, there's no place for him to go, so there's times when there's an extra one down there, and Mark did a good job of getting it in and taking a hit.
* Q. What is T/G Andrew Gardner doing well at right guard that makes you want to stick with him?*
COACH SHURMUR: Well, we think he's playing well. He does a good job in the run game. He's got an ability where he can stick on blocks. He doesn't splash off blocks, so when he gets to the second level, he can latch onto blocks pretty well, and then I think he's got pretty decent instincts in terms of pass protection and passing off twists. Again, he's been in there at right guard for a few weeks, and I think he'll only get better as he continues to work there with [T] Lane [Johnson] and [C Jason] Kelce.
* Q. When you look at your red zone plays, is there any common denominator on a lot of them or some of them or does it seem like it's a different thing each time?*
COACH SHURMUR: Yeah. I think they are specific. In a lot of ways some of it's situational by game, but for the most part a lot of it comes down to when we start talking about turnovers or lack thereof.
* Q. In that regard were you trying to be very conservative?*
COACH SHURMUR: No. I don't think we go down there with the idea that we're going to just see what we can get, get it down to one play and if we don't make it kick a field goal. We're trying to be as aggressive in the red area as we would be out in the field.
* Q. In respect to Cooper and not comparing his numbers to last year, have there been elements that have changed for him where that would negate the comparison?*
COACH SHURMUR: No. He's doing fine. He's doing actually very well, in our eyes.
* Q. You were with the Cleveland Browns when Seahawks QB Russell Wilson entered the league. Do you remember what stood out about him and what you thought of him during the draft evaluation process?*
COACH SHURMUR: Well, he's a winner. And I think that's first and foremost and that's what you're looking for in a quarterback: a guy that can lead his team to victories. And that was very obvious. He's got an excellent set of legs on him. You know, he can move around and do all the things that you would like to do as a quarterback. I think mobility is something that quarterbacks need to have.
He throws the ball extremely well. And you know, you put it all together, I think they found a good system for him in Seattle, and you know, he's playing well. He led his team to a Super Bowl, and it's not a surprise to me after watching him come out.
* Q. Why do you suspect he fell to the third round of the draft?*
COACH SHURMUR: Oh, I don't know.
* Q. He has great mobility, which is what coaches seem to look for now. What was kind of the knock against him where people were not having him as a ‑‑*
COACH SHURMUR: Probably ‑‑ the only thing that somebody might knock him for might be his height, but for the most part he can do all the things you need to do in this league, and he's proved it.
Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis
* Q. Does anybody run the ball harder than Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch? What is the challenge going to be with him?*
COACH DAVIS: Nobody runs the ball harder. He comes downhill every play. He runs angry. He's a talented back, and he looks for contact. He's going to get his yardage. He gets the hard yards, and he gets exactly what's there every down.
* Q. Why has your run defense done so well? Not just on Thursday, but really all year?*
COACH DAVIS: I think it's a collective effort that starts with the D-line in the way that they put their hands on people. They strike with their hands. They've got a great understanding of controlling blocks and then shedding blocks.
So when that front wall is built properly, like ours has really been built properly most of the year, then the rest of the guys fit into place after that.
I think we've done a lot of work on the tackling aspect. When we first got here, we had to really amp that up and we put a lot of focus on it, and usually what you focus on is what you get. So I think the tackling part has really picked up.
* Q. As LB Emmanuel Acho gets healthier will you stick with the rotation or will you go just with LB Casey Matthews?*
COACH DAVIS: Right now he's still coming off that injury. We're still partially practicing and getting it better. So that's a week‑to‑week thing. We love what Casey did in the game, but Acho has been solid in everything we've asked him to do, Rolling him actually benefits us in special teams a lot and in ‑‑ we have a pretty good rotation going throughout our D-line and linebacker group, so it's nothing new to us or unusual, so he'll fall right back into some form of a rotation.
* Q. When you look to build a secondary, do you kind of look at Seattle as kind of a prototype with the big, physical corners and all of that?*
COACH DAVIS: I think they've got a great secondary. I don't know if there's any prototype out there. I know we like big, long corners and safeties who can cover man-to-man, and we've got our own set of criteria that we kind of look for, but every team does. But then good football players are good football players, and you pick the guys that play the best and make them fit.
* Q. What are the challenges of having a quarterback that can run on zone-read plays?*
COACH DAVIS: It comes back to our Carolina game, it comes back to our San Francisco game, where the zone read is back into play.
One of the benefits we have here is there's no new conversation for us when we play a zone-read team like there are for teams that don't have a whole offseason of defending it. We see it every single day of the offseason. We see it every single day of training camp, and even during the course of the week when we do some good-on-good, we defend the read option. So our calls and our conversations for our linebackers, the reads, the outside backers, the inside backers and how we defend it, is nothing new. We reopen that conversation when we have to face a read-option team like we are this week.
* Q. Does QB G.J. Kinne kind of play that role on the scout team?*
COACH DAVIS: Yeah, he does a great job with it. Yeah.
* Q. In the span of a couple weeks, you've faced two quarterbacks that we consider elite. It looked completely different on Thursday than it did in the first game. In your opinion what was the biggest difference between those two games?*
COACH DAVIS: There really are, although they're both elite quarterbacks, and I agree with you, there's a completely different offense coming at you. The people around them, the game and how the score -- everything changes. Every game's got its own feel to it, and as the score separates or the weather [changes], or the field position [changes], all the things that go with it, I think some of those change.
When we faced Green Bay in Green Bay, the quarterback [Aaron Rodgers] was absolutely on fire, and it takes nothing away from us. We had some tight coverage that he threw the ball in there on and that game separated on us, and all of a sudden it was different than the Dallas game where we got a little bit of a lead and then that thing changed, and they were a little bit more committed to the run game than the pass. So there are so many differences in it, if that answers your question.
* Q. I don't know if you watched the New England Patriots-Green Bay Packers game, but it looked like Green Bay was going to run New England off the field after that, too. Did you see anything in that?*
COACH DAVIS: I didn't study it thoroughly. I watched it from the TV aspect, which is a very hard ‑‑ when you see that coaching tape, that's where you see all the little things, but I only watched it from the TV aspect.
* Q. Schematically speaking, on stopping the zone read, when a quarterback can move like Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, I don't expect you to give away too much, but what are some of the keys?*
COACH DAVIS: Really the biggest part is that the quarterback comes in play with their numbers. You always talk about all the gaps and everybody has a gap and gap integrity. When the quarterback is a runner and they have a blocker in front of him or even the zone read where they're trying to read the commitment to the dive or the quarterback, you just have to have the conversation of one more number in the count of the running game and of the gaps available. So that's the biggest change when you start talking about a quarterback as a runner on a run play.
* Q. When defending that and teaching it, how much has it helped to have so many former college coaches here on your staff?*
COACH DAVIS: It's the biggest difference. Our guys have spent a career of defending this, and it's old hat to them right away. They've got answers for everything right away. Honestly, from the aspect of them knowing the answers right away, they've defended it. So as an NFL lifer, I haven't had to have those discussions a lot in my career, but over the last two years ‑‑ again, we face it in practice every day, so that's a benefit to us and then the coaches that we have are not only outstanding coaches on any scheme, but the read option is part of what they know well.
* Q. How has assistant offensive coach Tra Thomas been an asset in terms of guys up front?*
COACH DAVIS: Tra came to us early in the season, and he's doing a nice job of doing some offensive line tendency film breakdowns for us. So he'll come up and say, 'This guy's stance tells you this.' He's been working hard and helping us. It's just one more aspect of a guy looking at something [specific], where we're looking at the whole scheme and Tra's focused on maybe a stance tip a guy is giving away.
* Q. You talk about tackling. How does Lynch kind of stack up against guys like Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray?*
COACH DAVIS: Both those guys are big, look‑for‑contact guys. DeMarco Murray will put his shoulder down and run you over, too. So it's nice that we're facing those two big, downhill runners back to back. We know what it's about. It takes a swarm tackle. You can't tackle Marshawn with an arm. It's got to be a full body, swarm tackle with all the effort to the ball. He's a punishing runner, and we've got to be at our best to get him down.
* Q. Their rosters have changed this season with the injuries at tight end. Where are they now in terms of receivers, the tight ends?*
COACH DAVIS: You know, I don't know where they were because I didn't see any [former Seahawks WR Percy] Harvin tape. We're not going that far back, but right now they're very solid across the board. They've got a great system offensively that stretches the field. You have to defend the width and the depth of the field with these guys, and I think they've got a great system in place and they're spreading the ball around.
They're based out of a run game, but from there they spread the ball out and make you defend the field.
* Q. Keep coming back to defending quarterback who can run well, but how much of that has to do with the speed that they have?*
COACH DAVIS: That helps. That and effort. You get 11 guys running to the ball and the quarterback is running around, and that's been one of our, I think, stamps of this defense is their effort to the ball. Very rarely do you see them not have 11 guys running to the ball, and they pride themselves on it. And when you have a mobile quarterback, two elements occur. One, you have to finish all the way to the ball. You have to have all the guys in pursuit, but the real key is on the back end plastering in the coverage when it goes from a three to four‑second coverage mode to five, six, seven, eight seconds when these quarterbacks can run around in space and still have all the arm to throw it.
So that's a key element, not only swarming to get him down, because he's going to make one or two guys miss; it's about on the back half can we stay in coverage.
* Q. They've given up a lot of sacks, though. Is that because he runs around back there?*
COACH DAVIS: It has a little bit to do with it. I mean if you're protecting for him, there's the pocket initially, and then God knows where he is. Now he's making half the people miss. Same guy misses twice, and sometimes those do turn into sacks.
If you collectively rush him as a group, I think we'll be okay from that aspect, and he's still going to make his plays. Guys like this are going to make their plays.
* Q. You have a bunch of different guys who have shown ability to rush the passer and get pressure, get sacks, DE Vinny Curry, LB Brandon Graham, DE Fletcher Cox and obviously LB Connor Barwin. How much more dangerous are you having a bunch of guys, instead of one guy who's got 20 sacks and one guy who is the pass rusher. How much tougher is it to defend that?*
COACH DAVIS: I think it's a lot tougher, the one‑on‑one matchups, and we move them around so we can go ahead and manipulate some of our one‑on‑ones.
It's a tribute to those guys and the coaching they're getting. They're doing a great job teaching the stunts, the games, the straight pass rushes. We've put a lot of emphasis on it this year, like I just talked about with the outside backer group. Last year it was about dropping into coverage. This year we say, okay, now we have that down, let's refocus on going forward and getting our pass rush and our games timed up. And I think the guys have responded. We've got a lot of guys who can rush the passer.
* Q. You guys have done a pretty good job on tight ends this season. What's the reason for that?*
COACH DAVIS: I don't think there's one reason. We've got linebackers on the tight ends at times. We've got safeties on the tight ends at times.
I just think the guys are feeling more comfortable in our coverage packages. We're not changing a whole lot. We've got a couple more coverages that we've added over the offseason to get us tighter on that, and I think it's just a matter of the guys being more comfortable and playing faster in the scheme.
* Q. If I'm not mistaken, you had CB Nolan Carroll play a few quarterback reps against Dallas?*
COACH DAVIS: Yeah, I think [Bradley Fletcher's] shoe came off or something. I wasn't positive at the time. There was some kind of ‑‑ it really was. That's what it was.
* Q. No conspiracy theory?*
COACH DAVIS: [Jokingly] There was no conspiracy theory. He ran out there, and we were on a dime for a second, so those things happen during a game.
* Q. When you talk about building a wall and the way you guys run, how important is it to have a guy like Cox, a first‑round pick, who subjugates his stats to kind of do everything for you, even though you can put him anywhere?*
COACH DAVIS: I can't say enough good about what he means, but that whole d-line is playing pretty solid. And Fletcher, like we talked about, he doesn't have the sack numbers right now, but they're growing for him, but he's been disrupting everybody, from the quarterback to the run game. He's always in the backfield. He's almost always winning his one‑on‑ones, and that makes everybody else's job easier around him.
But the whole group collectively has been winning the line of scrimmage more than we lose it, and Fletcher is a big part of that.
* Q. Is there anyone you can compare him to? You've been around for a long time.*
COACH DAVIS: I can't name one guy. He's a very well‑rounded guy. I hate to put that label on him as one guy because what's neat about him is you go from putting him in a three‑technique gap charge to a two‑gap technique with his strike and reading to just a regular old pass rush outside or inside and there's not one place that you really say, 'Oh, boy, he struggles there.' He really can do it all.
* Q. Who have you coached before that has that kind of versatility, though? There are not a lot of guys who do that.*
COACH DAVIS: No, there's not a whole lot. But I really don't have somebody for you. I'm not going to give you a name.
* Q. What sticks out about LB Brandon Graham?*
COACH DAVIS: His power. Brandon, when you're talking about going forward, Brandon has a lot of power. He's got a great center of gravity, low center of gravity where he really gets a push.
When he goes to his bull rush, people move backwards, no matter how big they are. And Brandon's got a nice counter move. He's very strong handed, he's got real heavy hands, so setting the edge in a run game and his bull pass rush are probably his trademarks, and then he's got so much better at going backwards and knowing where he fits in coverage.
* Q. You mentioned the effectiveness of the stunts in games. Is that something where the players are getting calls from the coaches to do that or are they deciding on their own?*
COACH DAVIS: We have a mix. We have a mix. There are calls I can say give me the Double Texas or a Texas Right and El Paso. We have all the names for it. Or I can say run games, guys. You can choose to run the straight rush, or if the two of you ‑‑ it's really two and two is really what you break it down to. The two rushers on one side work together. They can run straight or they can say, 'Hey, cover me. I got an inside move coming.'
And that's where the growth has really happened, and not only can we specifically call a stunt and they'll run and execute it or we give them, hey, just straight rush and they're good at that, or we can say, you have your choice, and those three elements the guys really are good at working together. And the timing of games is what's so hard. So the more you run them with somebody, the better the timing gets.
* Q. How far has Graham started dropping and covering?*
COACH DAVIS: You know, him and [LB] Trent [Cole] really. From never having done it. And what's the starting point? These guys have never done it. They've been playing ends.
And when they stood up, and they really worked on their eyes first. Once you get your eyes in the right place, you really can get your body in the right place, and the biggest mistake from having coached that position a lot is the eye placement. And right now Brandon is going backwards and getting your depth, that's the other thing you lack. When a defensive lineman goes backwards he usually doesn't get the depth in coverage; and Brandon's a smart, intelligent football player, and once he gets in those main points, he gets it done almost every time.
Now, the one‑on‑one foot race and quickness inside, you can't do anything about it. It's not where he belongs. It's the same thing when he rushes the running back. The running back running a route on him gets the advantage. The running back blocking him and pass, the advantage goes to Brandon.