Head Coach Pat Shurmur -- December 19, 2018
Opening Remarks: A couple guys won’t be out there today. Alec Ogletree came in today not feeling well, so he won’t be out there. Michael Thomas, I excused him for personal reasons, just dealing with illness in the family, so you won’t see him there. Otherwise, the injured players that you know about – Odell, Spencer Pulley and Russell Shepard probably won’t be doing much, if anything. Probably nothing. And I say that because there’s times when I have this meeting after a walk-thru and there’s times when they feel a little better as the day goes on so we see what they can do, so that’s where we’re at. Then Kerry Wynn’s got a little thumb deal that he’ll be limited. I’ll take your questions.
Q: How’s Odell feeling in general? Is it something he’s progressing with at this point or is he kind of in the same spot?
A: He feels better than he did last week.
Q: Does that mean he’s going to do some running?
A: No, he said he feels better. I just mentioned that he won’t be out there today.
Q: He can do stuff on the side though?
A: Possibly, we’ll just have to see, see what the rehab entails. It changes as the player’s injury progressively gets better, so we’ll see.
Q: Ogletree has an illness, you said?
A: Yeah, he’s not feeling well, so we’re just getting that checked out and then just see why, that’s all.
Q: Are you still not considering shutting Odell down at all for the rest of the season?
A: No. At this point, I think it’s a player’s responsibility to do everything they can to get on the field and get back into games. We’re coaches and players, and we play the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, so it’s important that we do everything we can to show up.
Q: As important as that is, is there a value in a player that is that important to you and your future here and the team’s future here to protect him and make sure he doesn’t make it worse?
A: I think it’s important that all the healthy players are ready to play in the game. I guess that question leads into that these two games aren’t important, and I don’t believe that. I think what’s important is that we as a team do everything we can to go out there and play the game and try to win the game. Running parallel with all the thoughts moving forward in the offseason is this team trying to learn how to win again. And again, I’m speaking as the coach, where we’re doing everything in our power to put a plan together to win the game. That requires that all the players do everything in their power if they’re injured to make it back for the game, and then if for some reason they can’t, then you do it for the next week. So that’s the philosophy.
Q: Did you go into the season with kind of an idea with some of the new players, especially like Saquon, did you kind of have an idea that ideally you’d like to have this kind of a workload for him and project it to the season? Like a pitch count for a pitcher, that sort of thing?
A: No. I think if you play balanced offense and you’re moving the ball and scoring points and doing the things we did in a handful of games this year the way that I want it to happen, then you spread the wealth and eight or nine guys touch the ball in the passing game, two or three guys touch the ball in the run game, and then you just see where that takes you. I think that’s an important piece, but going into the year, did I have a plan for it? No. I think you play the games and try to do what you have to do to win. I think it’s fair to say any coach in his first year, there’s a lot of learning about your team that runs parallel with trying to win the game. So that’s kind of what you go through.
Q: For a young guy like that who has a big workload, do you have to monitor with the trainers each game and say, ‘ok, he had 26 touches, he had this, let’s see what’s going on here’?
A: No, we keep track of everything the player’s all about physically and where he’s at, how he feels. That’s why I don’t feel like you have ‘victory Mondays’. I think that’s part of the process to make sure you know where the guys are after a game moving forward. That conversation is constant in terms of where guys are in terms of health.
Q: The youngest guy on the roster (Saquon), how do you see him physically holding up?
A: I think he’s holding up very well. He’s a very physical guy, he’s in very good shape, he’s obviously super talented, and we’re just keeping track and monitoring, and encouraging him to do all the things necessary each week to get ready to go. And he’s done a good job with that.
Q: Anything you’ll be looking for or evaluating in these last two games?
A: Yeah, I want to see good football and I want to win the game, and I think that’s what we’re trying to get done. Then anybody that’s on the field is always being evaluated. Again, we’ve got a bunch of different players that have been forced into action that we’re getting a chance to evaluate on a constant basis. I’ve said it before, you can’t fake football, and I think it’s important that we go out and everybody plays good football and is helping us win games.
Q: The Colts looked dead in the water about halfway through the season, and they seemingly turned it around. What are they doing differently?
A: They’re a little bit like we are, a game or two better right now. They won a couple close games that we didn’t. They started out slow in terms of wins and losses, they’ve been consistent, I think they found a little groove with Andrew Luck (who) is back healthy. We all understand he’s a terrific quarterback and he’s had a lot to do with their success on offense certainly. They’re just like any new team, trying to put it together and move forward.
Q: How about their offensive line? For years they were disparaged as the weakness of the Colts. What do you see from their offensive line now? They obviously have a lot of resources.
A: Yeah, I think they’re blocking better. They added (Quenton) Nelson, a rookie, and low and behold they’re blocking better and playing better offense – an interesting concept.
Q: About their defense, this is a team that hasn’t played well in the last three or four years defensively. Now they’ve come on, coming off a shutout. When you look at the film, what do you see is the big difference with them?
A: Well, in terms of the difference, their style of defense is the same as it was throughout the year, but they play good team defense. I know Matt Eberflus very well, he came from Dallas, and so the blueprint of how they play defense is like Dallas. They’re not as big as some of the guys we played of late, but they’re very active, move around, and they’ve done a good job of keeping teams out of the end zone.
Q: Does Frank Reich do a lot of movement with the tight ends, similar to what they did in Philadelphia from where he came from?
A: Yeah, I think Frank was a big piece to the Eagles success a year ago. Frank is a terrific coach, I know him very well. Through the offseason, we compared notes as new coaches, just how we’re doing things – nothing tactically, but just in terms of how you want things to run. So I think he’s done a good job with it. You see plays certainly that were similar to the plays run by the Eagles because he had an impact on that offensive scheme a year ago.
Q: You mentioned Nelson. I know you guys met with him quite a bit during the draft process, what kind of impact has he had and what did you like about him as a player?
A: Yeah, we thought he was a terrific player. We had him rated very highly. Tough, physical guy, and that’s what you want to get – sort of like our guy Will (Hernandez), tough, physical – and that’s really demanded of your offensive line.
Q: You’ve talked about the growth within a team and players. From a play-caller perspective, how long is that progression from Week 1 ‘til now to feel that comfort level of what you have, what your guys can do, that kind of thing?
A: I think you’re constantly looking to do the things necessary to win the game against the opponents you face and play-calling, I think it’s important you give your guys a chance. You call a pass, you want your guys running wide open and you want it to be blocked well and you want the quarterback to complete it. That’s what you’re looking for in play-calling is to give your guys a chance. When you call run plays, you don’t want extra guys hanging around the runner, so that requires running the right path, blocking the right guys and getting the ball at the right time. I think we as play-callers constantly critique ourselves, there’s always people telling us our tendencies. Sometimes tendencies are good, though, that means you’re starting to become good at something. I think there’s something to that. But that’s a constant process, and we go through that as play-callers all the time.
Q: Can you look beyond the execution and just look at the plays and just say, ‘alright, well that worked even though it didn’t work execution-wise’, and go back to that play?
A: Oh yeah, that’s what we do during a game. Frequently, we’ll have a play that we thought was really good and all the sudden, it gets nubbed. That’s all that conversation, and that’s the red face that you see from me – ‘what the heck happened?’ And it’s like, hey listen, we just missed on this, don’t get away from this. So that’s what happens, and frequently you get back to a play that you ran earlier that may have not had success, and then you call it again later and you have success. Human nature says sometimes, I’ll go onto something else, but that’s just kind of the decision making you make during the game.
Q: As a coach, do you get certain satisfaction with a player like Aldrick (Rosas) making the Pro Bowl? You probably could have gotten rid of him and nobody would have blinked last year.
A: Yeah, I’m happy for the guys that are recognized and certainly in his case, he’s recognized for having a terrific year. He’s made some amazing kicks and he’s done a great job with his kickoffs. He had one that went out of bounds, he gets one in a career I told him, so that was his only one. But, no, I’ve been pleased with what he’s done this year. You hate to say you have favorite players, but he’s one of my favorites. You’ve heard me talk about how he’s not just a kicker, he’s a football player. He’s a big guy, he’s got a presence, and he’s competitive. So I appreciate all the good in Aldrick and the fact that he was recognized is great.