Head Coach Pat Shurmur -- November 28, 2018
Opening Remarks: I’ll start with the injuries today. Evan Engram was out there in the walk-thru so we’ll see how much he can do, he’s got the hamstring. The rest of the guys are competing out there to some degree, something like limited or what not. Then you’ll see that Cody Latimer is back, we’re going to start his clock, get him practicing in case we need him here down the road just like we’ve been doing with Jonathan Stewart. With that, I’ll take your questions.
Q: Even before the injury, Evan’s snaps were decreasing each of the last two weeks. What is going on between him and (Rhett) Ellison that maybe has helped Ellison surpass him in terms of snaps?
A: What we’re trying to do is use the players and the strengths of the players, and I think Evan’s had good production with fewer snaps, and trying to get him to do the things that he does well. Then Rhett, it has nothing to do with one being more valuable than the other, we’re just trying to use their strengths that they possess.
Q: With Evan, people always wonder if he could be a wide receiver. Is that something you’ve given any consideration to?
A: Yeah, I think he has skills to be a wide receiver. Whether we list him as a tight end or not, you see quite frequently he’s lined up in a detached position. We’re aware of that and try to take advantage of those skills.
Q: Where is Chad Wheeler’s development and is he ready to face the challenge he will have on Sunday?
A: He’s been challenged each week. I think he’s developed throughout the season, he’s gotten better each week. He’s with that group of guys that have played their best three games in the last three weeks against some really good opponents. Let’s not forget that the (defensive line) we just faced was another tough task, another tough challenge to block, and I thought he hung in there well, I thought he played pretty well for the most part last week. You just keep developing, you try to study the matchup that you’re going to face. He will face both defensive ends, 52 (Khalil Mack) lines up on both sides depending on what they’re trying to accomplish, but (Leonard) Floyd is also an outstanding rusher. That’s the challenge anytime you play a front like the Bears will put in front of us, is being able to block your guy. To answer your question, I think he’s developed well throughout the year and he’s really benefitted from all the reps and all the playing time he’s got.
Q: Is 52 (Khalil Mack) different, special?
A: Yeah, he’s a guy that can really disrupt the game in a way that is not good for the offense, but we’ve got to block him. That’s the case every week.
Q: You’ve been game planning for pass rushers for a long time. Does he remind you of anybody in the way he can wreck a game?
A: No, he’s obviously a very good player, he’s got a good first step, he can bull rush you and go, then work your edge or just work your edge. I think what he does a good job of is just keeping his feet moving and then as the play develops, being in a position to either sack the quarterback or find the running backs. He’s a really good player.
Q: With their quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) a little banged up, do you prepare for the same offense, but I assume it will be limited if you get the backup (Chase Daniel)?
A: No, I think the offense that they run is very similar. I’ve coached in the West Coast system where (Head Coach) Matt (Nagy) came from with Andy Reid, but he’s also got his offensive coordinator is a guy from the Oregon family that I worked in that system with Chip (Kelly), so I see elements of both. They’ve got into more of a zone read type run game, their run game will be very similar to what we faced against Philadelphia, very similar in a lot of ways because Doug (Pederson), Matt and Andy were all together recently. I recognizes the plays they’re running, certainly we’re going to have to defend them, and they’ve done a really good job. They’ve got some talented guys they get the ball to. I think the real challenge when you play against a guy like Trubisky is if it’s not there, I think he’s got the most rushing yards of any quarterback, he’ll pull it down and run with it. He’s got a good set of legs that will either keep a drive alive or they can use him in the zone read game. Whether they choose to do it because he’s coming back from the shoulder thing, I don’t know, but we’ll need to prepare for it.
Q: What is your relationship with Matt (Nagy)? I think he was an intern with the Eagles maybe at the end of your time there? What do you remember from those days?
A: Yes, we’ve always stayed in touch. We have a professional friendship, we’re really from the same family of coaches. We’ve both gone on and done different things, but very impressed with what he’s done. He inherited a team that has a really good defense, and again, I played against these guys twice a year for the last two years. Very similar, the defensive structure is the same, and they added a couple more really good players, so that’s the challenge there. What he’s done on offense is he’s come in and used the strengths of the quarterback they have, and provided a little bit of excitement and juice to the team.
Q: Your next five opponents have playoff runs in the mix or are in the top of their division. Do you relish the role of spoiler, or do you bring that in front of the players?
A: No, again, we’re just trying to beat the Bears. I don’t know what the spoiler thing means. I’m looking at the positive approach of us winning. I’m not really worried about the team we’re playing, whether we hurt their chances to do something else. What I want to do is to be better than the team we’re playing this Sunday.
Q: You said yesterday that you think as of late, Eli (Manning) is playing better. Is that from the bye week then the two wins, and then last week, is that the demarcation you have? What do you see about him that’s better?
A: Much like defensive football, offensive football is all coordinated and it starts up at the front. I think we’ve done a better job up front blocking, whether it’s a run or a pass, and I think that contributes to the success of the quarterback when we choose to throw it. He’s had to throw the ball less, but he’s been more efficient doing it, and I think that’s a really good formula. We’re kind of stumbling on the formula here – not stumbling, but we’re getting to the things that are important for a team to help win games.
Q: This defense has struggled as of late, especially late in games. Are there times during a game where you see things with the defense where you communicate with (DC James Bettcher) and say, ‘Hey, James, this is what I want done’, or is this strictly Bettcher’s show for 60 minutes?
A: No, I’m always listening to what we’re doing, I’m always well aware of what our plan is going into the game, and I’m in constant communication with (Bettcher) in terms of what we intend to do. Certainly, he’s the coordinator, he coordinates it, he runs it, he calls it, but I’m right there on the phone and I have suggestions throughout the game and have been.
Q: What are the benefits of getting Jonathan (Stewart) and Cody (Latimer) back? They’re established players, I’m sure you know what you have with them as opposed to some of the younger guys who I’m sure you’d like to see develop as well.
A: The way the system works certainly they’ve been on (injured reserve), and then I kind of like the way this works, you can practice them for three weeks, because along the way you may need a player. That’s the benefit of it. We lost Quadree (Henderson) this week with a shoulder, and so you have a player that’s practicing that may need to contribute. That’s really the benefit of it. You never know when you’re going to lose a running back, you never know when you’re going to lose a wide receiver, so to have a couple guys in the system getting them back into it, I think whoever made the rule, I think it’s a good rule.
Q: Where is Stewart in his progression at this point?
A: He’s ready to go if we need him. He’s got another week before we have to decide.
Q: Kerry Wynn (concussion) is completely cleared?
A: (Limited. Non-contact), but he’ll be out there. He’s going through the protocol and we’re very hopeful that he’ll have enough time to get through it.
Q: Yesterday on the radio when you were talking about (Aldrick) Rosas, your answer has been perceived as taking a shot at Odell (Beckham Jr.) when you mentioned hydration, that Rosas is a player who doesn’t complain about getting up in the morning, who doesn’t have hydration issues – I’m not quoting directly. Was that in reference to Odell, or was that just an answer?
A: No, not at all. Not at all. I’m fond of (Aldrick). It’s not a shot at anybody, it’s my perception of things. We’re in an age now where sports science rules, and I’m from an age where it doesn’t matter how much sleep you got, it doesn’t matter what you did, you come to work and you perform. That’s what I see in Rosas. He’s got that football player mentality. That answer had nothing to do with any other player, other than to compliment the fact that he is a tough son of a gun and I appreciate him as a player. Whoever perceived that was way off base. I like kickers that are actual football players, and that’s what he is. He’s a big, tough guy that has kicked the ball well for us.