Pat Shurmur Gets ‘Offensive’
PHILADELPHIA - It was Pat Shurmur's turn to chime in on the low blow heard 'round Philadelphia Wednesday and the Eagles offensive coordinator adeptly avoided the controversy in favor of using Terrell Suggs' hit on Sam Bradford as a teaching tool.
"The unintended consequence (of the play) is that you can see Bradford get hit and check off another box to get ready to play," Shurmur said before practice as the Eagles prepared for the all-important dress rehearsal preseason game against Green Bay on Saturday.
Still there is a concern that this offensive scheme projects to leave an immobile QB on an island against an unblocked defender far too often, something Chip Kelly dismissed earlier in the week.
(Listen to John McMullen discuss Wednesday's day at the Nova Care Center for the Eagles)
“We could put him in a glass case," Kelly said of Bradford. “I mean, he has to go out and play football. We didn’t call any designed runs for Sam."
The issue, however, remains the mechanics of much of Kelly's running game that at least mimic a zone-read, which in turn makes the quarterback live until he is “clearly out of the play.”
And Bradford himself confirmed Monday that the quarterbacks discussed post-snap body language in a meeting.
"We just have to make sure we do a good job of protecting ourselves," Shurmur admitted. "We run the play and they (the players) get officiated."
That's a clear indication that the Eagles are not changing Kelly's scheme because of Bradford's perceived fragility and the signal caller must learn to either get himself out of harm's way much more quickly or be able to take the hits that are on the horizon.
"Sam took some shots and was able to bounce back," Shurmur said.
Hopefully that continues.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE:
Shurmur also addressed the interior of the offensive line, the day after former stalwart Evan Mathis agreed to a one-year deal in Denver for $1.5 million less than he would have earned here if the Pro-Bowl guard kept his mouth shut.
Shurmur continued to laud the play of Mathis' replacement at left guard Allen Barbre, who has settled in nicely.
"Allen Barbre has quietly done a very good job solidifying the left side of the offensive line," Shurmur said.
Part of that is fitting in between two upper echelon players in left tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce. Peters, specifically, has always enjoyed the chemistry he has with Barbre and Shurmur made note of that.
"Jason feels good about Allen Barbre next to him," he said. "Those two guys working together has been terrific. Jason is three years into our system. His preparation is terrific and he is comfortable working with Barbre."
Meanwhile, the official inauguration of Andrew Gardner as the starting right guard is still on hold but Shurmur came close to locking it in.
"We fell really good with Andrew," the OC admitted.
The task now turns toward Gameday backups with versatility being the key. Dennis Kelly and David Molk have outplayed Matt Tobin and Julian Vandervelde in their preseason reps but the latter seem like the chameleons with Kelly more of a natural tackle and Molk an undersized center.
"Dennis has has quietly had a very good camp. It helps that he can play both guard and tackle," Shurmur said before admitting, "it's mostly tackle recently. "(Cross-training) is what you have to do if you plan on being that sixth or seventh guy on Gameday."
Josh Huff missed another practice due to personal reasons and his absence is certainly hampering the second-year receiver as he tries to hold off first-round pick Nelson Agholor for the starting spot on the outside opposite Riley Cooper.
"Nelson Agholor has made great strides in this training camp. He's proven he can make plays," Shurmur said. "We teach the guys this is the way it should be and ideally you would like it to go that way. At some point you have to be able to make a play though and Nelson has proven he can do that."
The staff has also been impressed with veteran Miles Austin, who seems to have a place on this team.
"He's a very veteran player. He just knows how to get open," Shurmur said. "I thought he was productive last year in Cleveland and we are trying to get that again."
NO CLARIFICATION ON TEBOW/BARKLEY
Finally Shurmur briefly touched on the most high-profile, third-team QB debate in NFL history but offered little insight into the ultimate denouement.
"They both battled (against Baltimore)," he claimed. "Each had more good plays than bad."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com and on Twitter @JFMcMullen