Shurmur Set For Limited Audition
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It's more than likely that the Eagles want to make a clean break from the Chip Kelly era after the season so Pat Shurmur will probably spend only 60 minutes of game time as the team's interim head coach.
And that's not exactly the kind of sample size you need to make a splash so Shurmur's place in this team's coaching search -- if he even has one -- is likely tied to his previous stint in Philadelphia under Andy Reid, where he spent time tutoring the offensive line, tight ends and quarterbacks, as well as his time as offensive coordinator in St. Louis, where he developed an affinity to current Birds signal caller Sam Bradford, and his two seasons as the head coach in Cleveland.
"It's been a unique week, as we all know," Shurmur said Thursday. ... at this point, my focus is on Sunday. You know, we all know change is in the air and we'll just have to kind of talk about those decisions as we move forward. I'm certainly excited to help finish out this year. It's very unfortunate that Mr. Lurie felt like a change was necessary, but we're going to do what we can to play the Giants."
Shurmur, a far more traditional offensive coach than Kelly, deserves some credit for opening his mind and coming back to Philadelphia to learn some of the concepts of an up-tempo, spread offense based on a lot of zone-read mechanics.
"Any time you put guys together -- coaches that haven't worked together -- there's a collaboration," Shurmur said. "So it became the Philadelphia Eagles offense.
"Percentages of whatever, certainly Coach Kelly was the inspiration for the running game and a lot of what we did and the passing game. And then I had ideas; other coaches in the room had ideas and what we did became the Philadelphia Eagles offense. As you watched our offense through the years, it was much different in year one when we started out with Michael Vick than it is now playing with Sam Bradford."
Some might dispute that but it's no surprise Shurmur refused to throw Kelly under the bus and that loyalty should hardly be considered a negative toward any future employment prospects here.
"I certainly learned something new every day," he claimed. "You know, I'd like to think that a lot of what we've done here is right. I really do."
That said, Shurmur was wise to also lead on his impressive past.
"I certainly have a strong philosophy that was developed under Andy Reid and then working for (Giants defensive coordinator) Steve Spagnuolo (in St. Louis) and then, my goodness, the time I spent with (former NFL head coach and former Cleveland Browns President) Mike Holmgren," he said. "You're talking about Hall of Fame guys. I learned a great deal from them. So that was the core of my former life. And then in these last three years, certainly I've learned a lot of things that I really, really believe in and I think there's a good blend."
If he Eagles focus on the Reid/Holmgren part of that blend, Shurmur might be a viable option moving forward.
While it would be far from the sexiest pick, if the plan is to stop the quarterback carousel and re-sign Bradford after the season, no one has had more success with the former No. 1 overall pick and Bradford is keen on continuity, something that has alluded the star-crossed, signal caller during his career.
"I think Sam is an outstanding quarterback and can play in any scheme," the interim mentor said. "I think we've seen him improve throughout the year. Some of it's been physical and some of it is getting used to what we do. But I think he certainly can function well in our offense and he's functioned well in the past in other offenses."
Moreover, Shurmur might be the guy to mold the good parts of an up-tempo attack with a more conventional offense, sort of like what New England has done for years with Tom Brady and both Indianapolis and Denver used so effectively with Peyton Manning.
No one knows if Bradford has the ability to handle the throttle at the line of scrimmage like those all-time greats but Shurmur is the kind of coach who would let him sink or swim, unlike Kelly, who demanded total autonomy over his offense and was labeled as a dictator by Lane Johnson on Wednesday.
And Shurmur will get an opportunity, albeit limited, to prove that.
"I've sort of looked at every day of my life as an audition," Shurmur said. "I have very strong feelings for this organization. This is the end of my 13th year here and I've grown to really appreciate how strong this organization is.
"As you go through years, you win games, you lose games and you work with some really fine people in the building. Every year as you put a staff together, you have a new combination of coaches. All my years here have been terrific. Now, we haven't won every game, but all my years here have been great and I certainly think this is an outstanding opportunity for anybody that wants to coach here."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen