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Coach's Corner

Coach's Corner: Thoughts on Eli's return performance


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Coach's Corner,'s exclusive weekly interview with head coach Pat Shurmur:

Q: When you are coaching a young team, do you try to stay consistent with your message each week?

Shurmur: "When you coach a young team, absolutely. The message is important. Just continue to work, continue to believe and continue to try to make plays early, late and throughout the game."

Q: As part of that, you also have to coach the coaches and make sure they stay positive. Have you had to do that as well, and say, "We're going to break through. This is a young team. There's talent here. Just stay positive?"

Shurmur: "I wouldn't necessarily say coach the coaches. I think we all understand the situation. We're doing everything we can to win the next game, and inspire all of our players, young and old, to play well."

Q: I noticed yesterday during the special teams period (defensive line coach) Gary Emanuel was running his players through what looked to be a very basic drill, the kind you might see early in camp. How important is it in the latter stages of the season to keep working on the fundamentals?

Shurmur: "We do that during all special teams periods. Any player that's not involved in special teams is working on drill work. That's been happening since Day One. Certainly at this time of year, it must continue."

Q: I guess my point is, even after 13 games, you can't let the fundamentals slide. You always have to stay on top of fundamentals.

Shurmur: "Absolutely. You coach fundamentals every day. Every position, every day, they work on the fundamentals of the position they play."

Q: After the game in Philadelphia on Monday night, you were asked about Eli (Manning) and you said, "I thought he battled. I thought he did a lot of good things." You never elaborated. Did Eli personify the team a little bit in that he played pretty well in the first half and not so well in the second half?

Shurmur: "Like I said, I thought Eli did a lot of good things. Obviously, we didn't do enough things well enough in the second half to win. But like I said after the game, I thought Eli battled."

Q: Considering he hadn't played in three months, was there anything you were particularly impressed with or surprised by, whether it was his recognition or a throw or something that maybe you didn't expect?

Shurmur: "No. I thought he was solid. I thought, for the most part, we did a good job of protecting for him. A couple of times, he got pressured. He threw two touchdown passes, which is important. I think we all need to make more plays in the second half."

Q: As we sit here now, you haven't said who the starting quarterback will be Sunday against Miami. The gameplan will be pretty much the same whether it's Daniel Jones or Eli. But do you have some Eli plays and some Daniel plays just in case?

Shurmur: "The game plan is what it is. You just tweak it for the quarterback that's playing. It's probably not as drastic as some might think."

Q: Darius Slayton didn't play the first two games and now leads all rookies with seven touchdown receptions. When you scouted him and brought him in, could you have predicted this type of production from him?

Shurmur: "No. You never predict that anybody, especially a rookie, is going to have that type of production. But he's done a good job. Once he got healthy and got going, he's had a positive impact on what we're doing offensively."

View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins

Q: We've talked a couple times about the youth and inexperience in the secondary. Sam Beal was an example of that. He was on the field for all but two plays the other night, had seven tackles. He also had a couple of penalties, one on special teams. Is that an example of the growing pains we've discussed with those players?

Shurmur: "Yeah, but that's typical of anybody that plays that many plays. You're going to have some bad plays. But you have to try to minimize them. Again, he battled through the game."

Q: You're one sack from tying the total the team had all of last season. Markus Golden is a big reason for that. He leads the team in sacks (with 8.5). Two years ago, he tore his ACL. You often hear it's the year after the year after the surgery when a player returns to full strength. Is he a good example of that?

Shurmur: "He's a very active player. He plays hard every snap, and I think that's why he's having that production as a pass rusher."

Q: It was just announced that Nate Solder is the Giants' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee…

Shurmur: "Obviously, Nate is an outstanding person. It comes as no surprise that he be recognized that way. He's a good-hearted human being. I'm happy for him that he's being recognized for who he is as a person."

Q: The Dolphins are a little unconventional. Whenever you have a 37-year-old quarterback that leads all active players on the roster in rushing, it's unusual. They're loose and aggressive, they use a lot of gadget plays. Do you have to go into it with a different mindset at all this week?

Shurmur: "No. We have to defend what we've seen and anticipate that there will be something that we haven't seen. It's why it's important that you play with good discipline on defense, get lined up properly, know what you're looking at, and really just trust your rules and play the plays as you see them."

Q: Coaches always say good defensive play begins with stopping the run. Does that change when you face the team that is last in the NFL in rushing yardage?

Shurmur: "No. It always starts with doing what you can to make sure you stop or control the run, and then you move on from there."

Q: (Dolphins head coach Brian) Flores has brought a lot of New England's defensive concepts to Miami. They blitz a lot and disguise their intentions. Does it look similar or familiar to what you've seen?

Shurmur: "There are some similarities to teams that we've played that come from that family of defensive coaches. Detroit, New England, and then obviously, Brian does a lot of the same things. They have some different stuff that they do, but you can see the base of where he was trained."

Q: They've gone for it on fourth down 24 times, which is the second-highest number in the league. You are first at 27. Is that primarily because of game circumstances, or have you changed your philosophy about going for it? You've already gone for it seven more times this year than you did all of last year.

Shurmur: "No. Most of the time, it has played out in our favor. If the situation — spot on the field and time of the game — dictates it, I think it's important that you go for it. In many cases, it gives you a better chance of winning the game."

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