Eagles offensive coordinator Shurmur talks Maclin, Cooper, Matthews, and more

Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur spoke with reporters on a variety of topics on Tuesday at training camp. Here's what Shurmur had to say:

Q. In two of the last three practices, WR Jeremy Maclin wasn't able to practice fully. What is your understanding of what's going on with him?

PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, we're at the point in camp where guys are just dealing with the stress on the body. He's doing fine. There is nothing that we're worried about.

Q. People just think of his knee because that’s the injury he’s coming off of.

PAT SHURMUR: It has nothing to do with the knee. It's just the normal stress of practice. He's taken a lot of reps. He's done an outstanding job. Just like anybody they deal with the soreness in certain ways. He'll be fine.

Q. Maclin and WR Riley Cooper are dealing with injuries. When you take them out of the equation, how do you feel about your depth?

PAT SHURMUR: Well, I think the advantage of them being out are the guys are getting a chance to step up and get more and more reps. So what we’re doing with them being out is developing the depth of the team because the guys that are second and third in line now become first and second. So we obviously want all the players out there all the time. The reality is there are times when they're not so the next guys up go. I think it's still important this time of year to not worry about the depth of where we're at. Just go out there and play football. Everybody's trying to get their bodies ready to play individually, and within that, everybody's learning how to play together within a scheme so we can go out and play on Sundays.

Q. Last week, last year you were high on TE James Casey. But how does he get on the field?

PAT SHURMUR: One, he's one of the 11. That's how he gets on the field. We have like we said, we've got the flexibility to play with zero tight ends, one tight end, two tight ends, three tight ends, depending on how many we have available. Fortunately our offense is very multiple where we can just put them in play and it's not so much driven by we have to have this personnel to run this play. James is very multiple by the way he approaches the game. We played him in the backfield today because we're a little short at receivers. You're going to see more three tight end sets.

Q. Have you discussed how long the starters are going to play on Friday?

PAT SHURMUR: We've talked about it in detail. We're going to try to solidify it later when we see when we sit down and say who is available for the game.

Q. WR Jordan Matthews has been talked about a lot. How do you temper the expectations for him?

PAT SHURMUR: Our expectations are high for all the players. He's done a good job. Every hurdle we've given him as he prepares himself for the season, he's done a great job of jumping over. He just continues to get better and better every day. Just like all our players, we have high expectations for him.

Q. WR Brad Smith didn't make a big impact in the offense. How big of a jump has he made?

PAT SHURMUR: Well, he's one of the guys that's really benefited from all the reps he's getting. He's done a great job. I think he's improved by leaps and bounds from a year ago within our offense. He's a very veteran player. He's a steady player on special teams. He's developing himself more as a receiver within our offense, and I think he's done a good job.

Q. What about WR Josh Huff? How's he starting to progress?

PAT SHURMUR: He's getting better. Grinding through camp like the rest of the guys. So we're playing them outside and inside. Of the young players he's probably had the most to learn, and when he's been on the right, he's been on the left. He's been on the inside, and he's doing a good job.

Q. Why is that? It seems like WR Jordan Matthews is specifically in the slot.

PAT SHURMUR: Well, we actually work all the receivers outside and inside. Right now Josh has got some experience playing outside. With Jordan, we really feel like he does such a good job inside that we just continue to improve there. But within the drill work. I'm sure you guys are out here and you see it. We work all the receivers at all the outside spots.

Q. Would you say T Allen Barbre is getting closer to nailing down that starting job?

PAT SHURMUR: Well, he's taken the majority if not all of the first team reps. He's doing a good job. Yeah, when we lineup and give you the final roster before we play Jacksonville, there’s a very good chance it would be him.

Q. Last year at this time Nick Foles was competing for the starting quarterback job. Is he going into preseason games trying different things?

PAT SHURMUR: Well, I think he's going through this camp just like he did the spring, trying to develop his craft and get better at all the things necessary to play quarterback within our offense. So that's just a continuation of that this weekend when he plays, and he certainly will start the game.

Q. Will you try more things in a game than, say, last year?

PAT SHURMUR: Not really. I think once you start playing, there are certain things you need to do as a quarterback. Certainly you want to get completions. Certainly if we have a play designed to take a look down the field, take a look down the field. If it's there, pull the trigger. If not, check it down. Within all of that, you have to manage the run game, and if you're involved in some form of a zone read, you have to be smart about what you do with the football. So all of that is stuff that you work on every day and you just take it to the game and do it against a different team.

Q. You've seen RB Darren Sproles and RB LeSean McCoy on the field at the same time. But just with the nature of the depth chart, is that why we haven't seen more of that? Are you holding off on those type of plays?

PAT SHURMUR: You've seen it a lot. I don't know how much more you'll see it.

Q. What is the advantage of having those guys on the field?

PAT SHURMUR: Having both of those guys on the field, you have two really good football players that can be number one, both function well in the backfield as runners and as receivers. You've certainly seen where we can spread them out into empty sets or one back sets with one of them extended and one of them in the backfield and take advantage of their skills as well. So it just keeps us where we could potentially be more multiple. A defense certainly has to decide how they're going to play it, whether those two running backs are on the field with a tight end and two wideouts or in some cases three wideouts. So they've got to decide whether they're going to substitute personnel‑wise, and we can try to exploit from that there.

Q. Can you talk about the offense when it comes to stretching the field and creating space? Is there enough space underneath to have a short passing game?

PAT SHURMUR: Well, here's the extremes. We could put all four tight ends in the game and stand shoe-to-shoe and give the ball to the running back and say find a space. Now that's a true fist fight for four yards. Or we can take some talented skill players and spread them out, hand the ball to the back. There is a lot more room in there. So from a run game standpoint, that's sort of the extremes. Then from a passing game standpoint, the same applies. A lot of times when we take a lot of big bodies and pack them in there, then your passing game revolves around play actions where there are times where you can spread the field certainly in play action, but most of the time, they're more drop backs or looking in a certain area trying to throw the ball.

Q. From that standpoint, McCoy has been good about running whether it's Andy Reid’s offense or yours or Chip Kelly’s. He’s been really good at running out of nickel or three‑wide formations.

PAT SHURMUR: Space, right?

Q. Right. Space. If you were to play more 12 personnel, how would that impact with the spacing?

PAT SHURMUR: Not really, I mean, we could be lined up in 12 or 11 personnel. Essentially it's a one‑back set, right? So how we space out the receivers, we could make the same play call essentially in 11 or 12 with one tight end attached and one extended, or the same play call with both tight ends or one of the receivers detached. So, you know, we're not really relegated to that. There are times when you want to get in 12. They get their big linebackers on the field, right, and then you play our guys spread. So we're here a lot of the time, so we've got to think of something, you know?

Q. Has TE Zach Ertz reached the level where you'll be able to spread him out a little bit. Has he become that better of a blocker, as good as Jason Avant was?

PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, I think Ertz is a guy defenses [watch] ‑‑ now you start adding the down and distance to it. You put Ertz in the game with [TE Brent] Celek, and we tighten him down. I think he's improved as a blocker on first down. But if you put Ertz in the game on second and third down maybe where it's more of a pass first type scenario to the defense for whatever reason, then we can spread out Ertz. Now you have to decide are you going to cover him with a linebacker or are you going to commit to putting maybe a third defensive back in the game? So, again, the guys who play against spend a lot of time in their office too. So those are all the decisions you make.

Q. What are you most eager to see from your young receivers on Friday?

PAT SHURMUR: Well, we want them to do, because obviously you back off on the scheme and the game planning. Certainly having played the Bears will help us. [Chicago defensive coordinator] Mel Tucker's the same defensive coordinator, so it's not so much scheme. We want our guys to be able to go in and function, get lined up quickly, run the right routes. When it's time to block, block, and do all the things we ask on the perimeter. Then when it's time, when you put the shiny pants on and the lights are bright, now what you want to see them do is when the ball comes their way, can they actually make a play? Those are the things you see. Because sometimes guys will be out here on the practice field doing excellent jobs, and then when the lights are bright, not so good. So that's what we want to see. We want to see because we've got high expectations for all of our guys as I mentioned earlier, and we want to see them take it to the field and do it in Chicago at Soldier Field and all that business.

Q. RB Chris Polk is a guy that's missed several practices this year. In the course of his career he's battled injuries. Any growing concern about his dependability this year?

PAT SHURMUR: We're not concerned. We think he'll come back. The injury he had, you hate to say injuries are minor, but it's something he's going to come back from soon. He's in a group of running backs that we think are pretty good. So he's in that group with Darren certainly and LeSean, and Tuck [RB Matthew Tucker]. So we feel good about that.

Q. What has WR Ifeanyi Momah done while running with the first team and what does he need to do between now and the cutdown?

PAT SHURMUR: I think he needs to continue to improve. He's certainly benefited from playing with the ones. He's made some plays out there in practice, and he's made a huge amount of improvement from a year ago. It's night and day in terms of how much better a football player he is. So we just hope he can continue on that trend, I guess.

Q. How did you weigh preseason performance in training camp when you were a head coach?

PAT SHURMUR: Well, it's part of the evaluation certainly. There are a lot of guys, as I mentioned, that perform well out here, and then they get in the game and it's too big for them. I shouldn't say a lot, some. So that's part of it. We want to see them perform well. Now a performance for a skill player doesn't always mean he had this amount of production. There are times because you're only playing part of the game, you can't get involved as much as you might like. So we weigh it by them knowing what to do, doing their job extremely well, and finishing plays and so on and so forth.

Q. How can you get Ertz and WR Jordan Matthews on the field at the same time from a position where they've predominantly practiced it?

PAT SHURMUR: You say, ‘Ertz get in at tight end, and Jordan get in at wideout.’ It's that simple.

Q. It would seem that Ertz and Matthews ‑‑

PAT SHURMUR: Yeah, certainly we could put them in, and Ertz could play the wide position, and Jordan could play the A position. There are other ways. We could have two tight ends and Jordan playing a wide receiver but playing in the slot. So there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to that standpoint. Again, it's very important for tight ends, number one, to be efficient blockers. You don't always have tight ends that are just going to knock them into next Wednesday, but you have to be an efficient blocker, especially if your thing is to catch passes. I think Ertz is developing more and more and more. I see his confidence starting to really build.

Q. Are you confident in Ertz as the number one guy, in the role that Celek would play?

PAT SHURMUR: Absolutely. He's a guy that can play attached, detached or we can move them around. Those are big words attached and detached. But you know what that means, right? Next to the tackle?

Q. His blocking has improved though?

PAT SHURMUR: Absolutely. He's improved his whole game.

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