Head Coach Pat Shurmur -- October 16, 2019
Opening Statement: I think the injury report went out, so I’ll let that stand. Getting ready to play a really good team. (They) can be very explosive on offense. They certainly have good players on defense. I think it’s fair to say they’re coming together as a team. They’re playing better and better each week, so it’s going to be a big challenge for us. With that, I’ll take your questions.
Q: They’re getting back Patrick Peterson this week. What does he bring that maybe they were missing while he was out?
A: Well, he’s a topflight corner in this league. Certainly, anyone that has his skill and ability and has played as well as he has for as long as he has, that’ll be a boost to their defense.
Q: With Evan (Engram) and Saquon (Barkley) practicing fully today, is it reasonable to assume they’ll play Sunday?
A: We’ll just see what the week holds. I’m sure everyone has questions with regard to it, but they practiced today and they did well. So we’ll just see.
Q: It seems like Daniel Jones is learning on the fly how to, when he’s under pressure, the balance between throwing it away and holding onto it and making a play. I’m just curious, how much of that is coachable and how much of that is him processing in the moment and the decision-making?
A: You have to be a good decision-maker early, in the middle and late in downs. Young players that are hyper competitive like he is, they try to make a play all the way throughout. But as you go through this as a quarterback, there are times when it’s important you use your legs and unfortunately throw the ball away. They get used to that as they go. Just like he’s getting used to every single thing. I talked to him last week, I said it’s kind of an interesting month he had. He went through a lot in the first month, learned a lot and did a lot of really good things. We’re looking forward to him continuing to improve in all facets of playing quarterback.
Q: We’ve seen how Daniel can run as part of his skillset. How would you describe Kyler Murray’s running ability? That seems like he’s not just doing it when plays break down.
A: It’s unique. They have many more structured quarterback-type runs. Your traditional zone reads, so to speak, where the quarterback runs it if either the edge disappears or the numbers are right. So, they have more of those in their system. But again, I think the most dangerous thing in our league with a quarterback with his skillset is when they drop back to pass, and then he takes off and runs. He’s done that on a consistent basis throughout (the season) and that’s where they’re dangerous, because then they have the ability to keep their eyes downfield and throw a late check down for 60 yards, or continue to run and move the chains. That’s part of his charm, and he’s done a good job to this point.
Q: Do you have to change your scout team quarterback because of that? You don’t have a 5-foot-10 quarterback, obviously, who can run around like that. Do you need to put a defensive back there?
A: No. We practice with the quarterback throwing the ball. He and Eli (Manning) have different skillsets, certainly. But there’s a lot to be practiced in terms of their route concepts and what they’re trying to get done. Then you just try to simulate the other stuff the best you can.
Q: You always talk about how everyone runs the same plays. We’ve talked about your style of offense and everything. When you look at them, are they significantly different than what most teams do now?
A: Well, I think everybody runs similar plays. Not all the same. I think everybody is game plan specific. We all try to do the things that work against the coverages we face. That’s why it looks a little bit different for everybody week to week.
Q: Going back to Kyler just for a second. When you watch him, does any part of him look like a former baseball pitcher, when you look at the arm and the arm strength?
A: I don’t know that. I see a guy that has… He’s doing all of the things he did in college. He has a quick release. He’s very accurate. In terms of his ability to throw the ball, I don’t know… I see a quarterback. I don’t know. That’s sort of what I see.
Q: It’s not intended to be any disrespect to the guys you played at running back instead of Saquon, or in place of Saquon, but did teams play you differently because Saquon was not your running back, and do you anticipate things changing when he becomes your running back again?
A: No, I don’t know if they did or not. That’s probably a better question for the coordinators that played against us. Against Minnesota, we saw the same combination of coverages that we had prepared for. Then certainly against New England, we saw all of the things that they did in terms of how they pressure to how they cover. In those two games, I’m not sure I saw something significantly different than what we prepared for.
Q: Going back to Saquon, if he plays this week, do you have to balance giving him too much to do in his first game back after so many weeks, or do you just say, ‘Look, he got the greenlight. We’re just going to go like nothing happened’?
A: Well, it’s the middle of October, and we’re playing ball. We’ll just see how that plays out. Players that are deemed healthy, you try to use them to the best of their ability and maximize what they can do to help impact the game.
Q: When you named Daniel Jones the starter, you obviously had a plan in place where Saquon is a major part of this offense and you can use him to help augment a rookie quarterback. When he comes back, if he comes back this week, how much can that help a rookie quarterback to have a guy who is such a threat, who you’re going to want to give the ball to and throw the ball to, all of those things, that quite frankly no one else really does?
A: The two biggest… If a quarterback is going to pick two friends, one is an offensive line and then the other is a running back. The ability to be protected so they can make throws, and then a runner that you can hand the ball to and gain yards. Obviously, Saquon being back, if in fact he is, would be a big boost, not only for the quarterback, but for our whole team.
Q: The Cardinals have continued to run a 3-4 defense. Has it changed much under (Cardinals Defensive Coordinator) Vance Joseph, or is it the same that James (Bettcher) had?
A: Same conceptually. When we’re in 21 or 12, so when we just have two receivers on the field, you see the 3-4 defense, much like us. Then when we get to 11 or multiple wideouts, three wideouts, they go to more of a nickel set. Then there are times when we’re in three wides when they’ll stay five on the line. Structurally the same. How they play coverage behind is a little bit different. How they pressure is a little bit different. But I would say the fundamentals of what they teach is the same.
Q: Do you think having a young defense, we’ve talked about you having a young defense, do you think that helps in a game like this because they already know the way the college game has changed, and the kind of play that Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury had in college that they’re now bringing to the NFL? They don’t learn new rules or things like that. Does that help?
A: I don’t know that. Experience is always more important in things like this. When you’re adjusting to tempo and tactics, I think experience helps you, obviously, more than inexperience. Youth is good as well. I think our guys are getting better each week. Part of what we have to deal with this week is a little bit like what we try to do. As a play-caller, you move the throttle around. Sometimes you go fast from the huddle, sometimes you go fast on the line, sometimes it’s a little bit more methodical. Because they’re newer in their system, they kind of line up without a huddle. I would say this to answer your question directly. Some of our guys that are young, it’ll look more familiar to them. Now whether that’s going to help us or not, we’ll figure that out as we go.
Q: Corey Ballentine, not referring to the injury, but just for the first six weeks… it seemed in the late preseason he was coming on strong. I don’t think he even played in the final preseason game. What has held up his progress in getting more defensive snaps and playing, whether it be in the slot or outside?
A: He’s been working at it. We’ve been using him on special teams. He’s developing. He’s a young player and he’s doing an excellent job. There’s nothing holding him back right now.