EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Coach's Corner, Giants.com's exclusive weekly interview with head coach Pat Shurmur:
Q: A change at quarterback this week, with Eli Manning stepping in for Daniel Jones. In the spring, you said of Manning, "I've never been around a person that can stay in the moment better than Eli." When you said that, his work life hadn't really changed in 15 years. This year, he's been in a different role. Has he been that same guy?
Shurmur: "Yeah, the very same. His role changed. He went from being the starter to the backup. But he handled his business and got himself ready to play each week, and it just so happens that he's playing this week."
Q: What's he been like as the number two quarterback? Is he still studying on Tuesdays? Does he still offer you input and help Daniel?
Shurmur: "Mondays, Tuesdays, every day, just like he was going to be the starter. In the meetings, he'd have the same ideas with regards to game-planning. He'd have the same thoughts as if he were going to play. He's been terrific. We couldn't have asked for a better guy considering what happened."
Q: Daniel (Jones) has played well on the road. (Jon) Halapio suggested that Eli's veteran presence could be helpful Monday night. He's played against the Eagles many times, he's played at the Linc (Financial Field) many times and on Monday nights. Do you agree with any of that?
Shurmur: "Being a veteran, that certainly helps. Having been there… Eli knows the environment well, he knows this defense well. Yeah, absolutely, it'll help. We have confidence in Eli that he's going to play well, deliver the ball and help us win."
Q: You said yesterday you make exceptions for injured quarterbacks and welcome them on the sideline. When Daniel was last there, he hadn't yet played fulltime. Can he be more helpful now, spotting coverages or identifying what the defense is trying to do, simply because he has played?
Shurmur: "He'll be there in a support role. We encourage the quarterbacks to have ideas. As we make in-game adjustments, they have good minds. He certainly knows way more now than he did to start the year. Whether you're playing or not playing, that learning goes on. I think that's why it's important that if they can be on the sideline, injured quarterbacks, I encourage that we do that."
Q: Saquon Barkley had 115 scrimmage yards and he averaged 4.4 yards per carry last week against Green Bay. He said yesterday, "I feel like I'm getting back to myself." As you looked at the game, looked at the tape, did you have that thought as well?
Shurmur: "I think that's a fair assessment. He had some really good runs, and he had an impact on the game."
Q: Buck Allen had a carry, (Eli) Penny had a couple of carries. Has there been a change in the hierarchy with (Wayne) Gallman at all?
Shurmur: "No, I just want to make sure Buck gets some action. I like what I've seen from him and I wanted to get him into a game. He can run the ball and he's done a good job in pass protection. I like what I've seen from him."
Q: In the second quarter last week, you had a drive that included 18 plays and consumed 9½ minutes. As a play caller, does that give you a chance to get in a rhythm? We haven't had a drive that long in a while. Did it feel different?
Shurmur: "No, I enjoy scoring. I think that's the important piece. The longer the drive goes, the more opportunity you have to get plays called that you want to get called against the defense. The biggest challenge is when you're going three-and-outs and those types of things. But the idea is to score. However you do it, whether you do it fast or methodically. Quickly or methodically, I guess."
Q: We spoke last week before Zak (DeOssie) was placed on injured reserve. It's hard for anybody to play 13 years in this league. He was on the field for less than 10 snaps a game, but he was one of your captains for a couple of years. What are your thoughts on having had the opportunity to coach Zak?
Shurmur: "It is very enjoyable to coach him. He is a true pro. I really enjoy him being on the team. I think he has a veteran presence that here in the short run, we're going to miss because he is a true pro."
Q: (Aldrick) Rosas kicked well last week. The new battery, snapper, holder, kicker. Were you pleased with the way it worked, especially in inclement weather?
Shurmur: "It's results, so obviously, yes. We were able to make our kicks (two field goals and an extra point). We didn't have any issues there, so the snap, hold, kick part was better last week. We have to continue to make it good."
Q: Ten rookies have started a game for you this year. That's the most for the team in a non-strike season since 1980. You are also playing many second-year players. Has all that youth changed how you've had to coach? Have you had to become more patient, more tolerant?
Shurmur: "Certainly, when you're working with young players that are doing things for the first time, I'm no less patient and I'm no more tolerant. They have to get it done. That's our reality. That's why I say these young guys have to figure it out fast because they need to grow up quickly. In some cases, in our situation, more quickly than most because they're not role players. A lot of these guys are starters and playing 50-60 snaps a game. It's very important that they figure it out because it plays into the whole team and our ability to win games."
Q: One of the youngsters who started for the first time last week was Julian Love. What did he show you?
Shurmur: "He started in place of Jabrill (Peppers), and I thought he did a nice job. He was very efficient with how he played. He made plays. He knocked the ball out on a strip. He has very good instincts. I think he has a bright future. For his first game as a starter, I thought he showed up pretty well."
Q: The Eagles have averaged about 150 yards rushing in their five wins. They like to control the ball on the ground and have the time of possession advantage. (Jordan) Howard and (Miles) Sanders have virtually the same rushing statistics. Is that really job one this week on the defense, to try to shut down that run?
Shurmur: "They're trying to play complementary football this year. They're very good on defense. They eliminate the score extremely well. They've taken sort of a patient approach to playing offense. They're doing a good job with their runs, they're doing a good job with their shortened possession throws, and they still take their shots. That's where the game opens up if they complete them. I'm impressed by the way they're playing."
Q: Why is (tight end) Zach Ertz so productive? He has so many more targets and receptions than anyone else on the team. How is he able to get open so often?
Shurmur: "I think his ability to uncover is really, really good. He has good size, he has good quickness, he has good speed and he uses all of his attributes to the best of his ability. He can uncover in a short area, but he can also make contested catches. They do a good job of playing above the rim at times, where Carson Wentz being a tall quarterback, and Ertz being a taller target, they can complete those high balls, which is obviously part of what they do. He's one of the better tight ends in the league. He's one of the best, and it's showed up year after year."
Q: The Eagles' defensive front never seems to change. Fletcher Cox in the middle and he is still a great player. Is their front as imposing, as good as any you've seen?
Shurmur: "We've played against good fronts all year. Every week here, I talk about how we're going to block the players that we're playing. But yeah, Fletcher Cox, a lot of these guys have been there a while, too. They were there when I was there. You have Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Those two guys are probably the mainstays. But they have (Derek) Barnett and they have other players that can get after the passer. (Tim) Jernigan, (Josh) Sweat. They keep adding. They put a premium on pass rush there. That's always the first priority, is to make sure you have good protection schemes."
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