EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Shurmur Sez, Giants.com's exclusive weekly interview with head coach Pat Shurmur:
Q: Players sometimes feel a sense of relief when they win their first game after a loss or two. You got your first victory in Houston - do you sense a different feeling around here this week?
Shurmur: "No, I don't think it's relief. I think our players have been pretty focused this week and even though making the corrections is less painful, we made plenty of mistakes in that game that needed to get fixed. Even when you win the game on Sunday and the correction making is less painful, it's still just as necessary, so I think that was our players' mindset."
Q: Do you want them playing this week with the same…
Shurmur: "You have to play with the same urgency and confidence as you did the week before. So part of what you try to do is if you believe in the work that's necessary to get you to Sunday, you have to try to replicate the work you did last week and make it even better. I think that's where we're at."
Q: When you were answering a question this week about Eli (Manning) having said you condensed the offense, one of the things you said, "I was able to repeat calls and that's a good thing." Why is that a good thing?
Shurmur: "Because the first time they worked. Certainly, you want to have enough offense, but you don't want to turn your back on a good play, and fortunately we were able to do that."
Q: As a play caller, are you straddling a line between staying with something that worked or showing the defense something new? Do you prefer, if it's working, let's keep doing it?
Shurmur: "I think if it's working, let's do it. I think that's probably the best way to put it."
Q: In a typical game plan, how many plays do you have ready to go and how many do you use?
Shurmur: "It's hard to say. There's over 100, obviously, that are ready to go and then you have 65 to 70, sometimes 75 play calls, so you use up obviously a smaller percentage of the ones that you have ready."
Q: Were you concerned those first four possessions in the second half when you punted? Do you go back and self-scout your playcalling after a game?
Shurmur: "You always self-scout everything. I do it as I go along, and we certainly do it week to week. There's a mixture of reasons why things don't work, so as you go through the game, you try to find the things that are working and stick to those."
Q: While that happens during the game, do you remain confident that at some point you're going to turn it around?
Shurmur: "You keep playing. Sure, you keep playing and you know my narrative on halftime adjustments. We were making adjustments constantly to try to get back to the things that were working well."
Q: The big play on the clinching drive was the third-and-two pass to Saquon (Barkley), who got behind Zach Cunningham. Did you keep that play in your back pocket for a while?
Shurmur: "We ran a version of that play earlier when the ball went another place, but in that case there it was good."
Q: When you arrived here, I'm guessing you didn't know much about Chad Wheeler. When and why did he first catch your attention?
Shurmur: "I thought working through the offseason he worked really hard. He played in some games last year that I thought he did a good job in, so he's just continued to improve, and we just keep working with him to get better."
Q: Chad's a laid-back southern Californian who looks like a surfer dude. Is he one of these guys that has to change his personality when he gets on the field?
Shurmur: "No, I think he's a very competitive guy. He's very quiet, kind of an introverted type of personality, but when he's out there playing, certainly he plays with a lot of emotion and he plays very hard."
Q: Last week he blocked J.J. Watt, this week it's (New Orleans') Cameron Jordan. He really has a couple of big challenges in his first two games at right tackle.
Shurmur: "Yeah, he drew some tough matchups. He (Jordan) will be on the (offensive) right side most of the game, so he'll be over there with Chad and Pat (Omameh) and on the edges with the tight ends. It's going to be a challenge to get him blocked, and I think it's important that we battle him through the game much like we did J.J. Watt."
Q: You've been asked about the tackles and the center, but not the guards. When you drafted Will (Hernandez), Dave (Gettleman) and you called him cranky and you said he'd anchor the inside of the pocket. Has Will been cranky on the field and has he done that?
Shurmur: "I don't know if he's been cranky. He's a rookie, so he's had some mistakes along the way, but he gets better. I think he plays better each week, and I don't think there's any reason to think he won't get better this week."
Q: You held the Texans to 59 yards rushing the other day and most of it was by (Deshaun) Watson; (Lamar) Miller ran for only 10 yards. When you defend the run well, Snacks (Damon Harrison) is right in the middle of it. What do you think about his determination to excel in a job that is, in a lot of ways, a thankless job?
Shurmur: "I think Snacks did a good job in the game and he's done a good job all year. His primary role is to stop the run. I thought he did a good job."
Q: Before the game there was a lot of attention on (cornerback) B.W. Webb, because he was taking over for (the injured) Eli Apple. After the game, I don't know if you were asked about him, which must be an indication he played pretty well.
Shurmur: "I think he stepped in and he battled. B.W. is a very, very tough guy and I think he – I really like the way he plays and how hard he plays, and I think he epitomizes what you're looking for in a football player. He's tough, he's competitive and he works extremely hard."
Q: Were you generally pleased with the defense on Houston's wide receivers, (Will) Fuller and (DeAndre) Hopkins last week?
Shurmur: "Generally, down to down. I thought when we get in those situations, where they're in kind of a two-minute mode and you get a little bit spread out, I thought they made some plays against us, but certainly that doesn't – I think we did a good job on them for the most part, but there's still areas where we can improve."
Q: You've been on the other side of Drew Brees several times in your career. He's been in that system for so long, I don't know if he can be fooled any more, and he makes great decisions. As an offensive coach looking at Drew Brees, what makes him so special?
Shurmur: "I think he's obviously extremely smart, he knows their offense well. He'll get the ball out quick, but he'll also in the right situations get the ball down field, which I think is important for a quarterback. And then he gets lots of completions. He's a very accurate passer. He knows their offense well and obviously runs it well."
Q: You have larger concerns, but does the football fan part of you appreciate the fact that you have two great quarterbacks matching up in this game?
Shurmur: "I'm a fan of our game, certainly, but I think my focus on Sunday will be the good things that happen to us and trying to overcome some of the adversity we'll face in the game to help our guys win."
Q: (Alvin) Kamara and (Michael) Thomas – 30 targets last week, 25 catches. I don't know if you've ever encountered a one-two running back-wide receiver duo like that, as productive as that. Do they present a unique challenge?
Shurmur: "Certainly. They're very good players and they're guys that they've done a very good job in getting the ball to, so it's going to be a challenge for us to get them stopped."
Q: Defensively, we talked about Jordan. (Linebacker) Demario Davis has a lot of tackles already. Do you see their front seven as the strength of their defense?
Shurmur: "I think they have a good defense throughout. They've got good players at all levels. They play good team defense. They've given up a few big plays, but for the most part, down-to-down, they're hard to move the ball against."
Q: Have you seen a player like Taysom Hill, a backup quarterback who's also a kickoff returner and punt protector?
Shurmur: "I think our game has changed a little bit so we have – the NFL game has elements of the college game with the zone read and quarterbacks that are primarily runners not throwers. So they just try to utilize him to the best of their ability, and he's made some plays for them."