PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Shurmur is entering his second season as the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator under coach Chip Kelly. It is his second stint in Philadelphia. He worked under former coach Andy Reid from 1999-08, first as the tight ends coach and then for seven seasons as the quarterbacks coach.
The former head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2011-12, Shurmur has helped implement Kelly's up-tempo offense, and during this preseason he has seen other teams borrow from it.
On the eve of the Eagles' third preseason game, Shurmur sat down to answer a few questions about imitators, quarterback Nick Foles and what he wants to see from his offense Thursday night against Pittsburgh.
Have you seen other teams borrow from what you guys did last season offensively?
Shurmur: Yeah, but I think what's important is it's easy to copy a play or two, but when you look at it in the broad view of it, that might get you a few yards here and there but it's not really the foundation of what you become. Changing and evolving, I feel like that's what we're doing. As a staff, I think we do a good job of building on the things that are working well for us, and then we're constantly looking for new things, not necessarily new plays but new ways to communicate it maybe, new ways to teach the players and change it up to keep the defenses off balance.
How has Nick evolved from this point last season, when he had just lost the starting job to Michael Vick?
Shurmur: Yeah, Nick's very different this year than last year. You've just got to go look at the surrounding situation a year ago. He was involved in a quarterback battle so to speak and a quarterback competition and didn't win it initially. Then he came in, kind of had medium success and then all of a sudden, boom, blew out and had a great really end of the season. That's a good progression. He battled. He got his opportunity, had some ups and downs and then finished well.
The next step for him is to build on that. I think he's had a good offseason. Training camp has been good, very productive. I think his second preseason game (against New England) was much better than his first. And I think all along as the quarterback, we give them plays to run but then you look around and say, 'Who are the guys I'm throwing it to? How are they matched up?' He's getting used to some new guys, so that's part of the process as well. I've seen him exert himself more in a leadership role and that sometimes gets over-talked about, but within his natural personality I've seen him really kind of extend himself, which is good. You see sometimes guys that have a certain personality and then somebody says they've got to be a leader and all of a sudden they look very different than they're supposed to be. Nick's very genuine. That's why it doesn't come out that way.
Shurmur: I think they compete with one another. I think, and this is why it's a healthy room, every one of them on an individual basis is trying to improve and they're trying to make the best of the reps they get. That's No. 1, and then No. 2, when it's time to say that guy is playing, I watch everybody not playing help that guy be successful. That's what makes it healthy. I don't sense any jealousy. I spend a lot of time with them and watch them very closely. I see a room there where they want the quarterback to play well so that the team can win regardless of who that is. That's kind of how I see it.
If Thursday is the last preseason game for most of the starters, what do you want to see?
Shurmur: When I think about it, we talked to the players about it, mentioned it to the players (Tuesday) morning: The officials are calling it a little tighter in a lot of areas. I watched the game (Monday) night (between Cleveland and Washington) and there were 22 penalties, 20 of them accepted. So the hands-to-the-face is an issue, the offensive pass interference. There are a lot of things that are being emphasized.
We've got to try to play a clean game from the penalty standpoint. That kind of shows that we're playing toward the emphasis of how it's being called. OK, we're learning that. And then I think we also have to be efficient. We have to put positive play after positive play, and then hopefully throughout the game score points. That's really what you're trying to do regardless if you're using all the plays you've got cranked up.