Eagles' Pat Shurmur has the résumé to work with young quarterbacks

Matt Barkley
Matt Barkley
Posted: May 31, 2013

In two of Pat Shurmur's last three seasons coaching in the NFL, his teams have started a rookie quarterback. In the other year, he started a second-year quarterback.

It's hard to find an NFL coach with more recent experience coaching young quarterbacks than Shurmur, the Eagles' new offensive coordinator. An Eagles tight ends coach when Donovan McNabb was a rookie in 1999 and the quarterbacks coach when Kevin Kolb was drafted in 2007, Shurmur watched McNabb become the starter as a rookie and Kolb wait his turn.

So Shurmur has seen young quarterbacks develop at different rates. Shurmur is helping the development of Matt Barkley, the Eagles' fourth-round pick in last month's draft. The team also has Nick Foles, who is in his second season. Both are competing with Michael Vick for the starting job, and both will be in the discussion to start at some point this season.

When do you play a rookie quarterback?

"You never totally know," Shurmur said. "But just by watching them function in practice first and then in all of your training sessions, and then you get to see them in the preseason games. And if they're not a guy who starts in week one, there may be a reason why he's in [later in the season]. The guy ahead of him maybe isn't playing well."

This is also something to watch with the Eagles' time line in naming a starting quarterback. Coach Chip Kelly reiterated Tuesday that the Eagles were not in a rush to name a starter, and for a decision of this magnitude it's in the team's interest to let the situation develop.

When Shurmur was the offensive coordinator of the Rams in 2010, the team named No. 1 draft pick Sam Bradford the starter on Sept. 4, one week before the season began. Shumur said that was not the original plan.

When Shurmur became the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2011, he inherited Colt McCoy, who had started eight games as a rookie during the previous season. Shurmur was hired in part because of his work in developing quarterbacks. Last season, Shurmur named rookie Brandon Weeden the starter on Aug. 6, even before the preseason began.

"I don't know if there's a timetable for it," Shurmur said. "The one good thing about the way we're functioning now in our training sessions is we get lots and lots of reps. We're going to have a lot of information about what our guys can do just based on practice."

Most quarterback competitions do not include three potential starters. There are only so many plays to go around for coaches to make an evaluation. Shurmur noted that this is not a problem for Barkley, who is the third-string quarterback.

"He's getting more reps here than he would get, I'm pretty certain, in other places . . . because of the way we structure our training sessions. So that's not an issue," Shurmur said. "He's doing a good job with the ones he's getting. Plus, he comes in with a very solid foundation of how to play quarterback."

Shurmur added that "you don't throw for over 10,000 yards and just get lucky a lot," a reference to Barkley's career at Southern Cal. He also said that Barkley's arm is strong enough for the NFL and that Barkley excelled in other areas required of a starting quarterback, such as accuracy and decision-making.

"He's just got to learn to do it at this level in this offense," Shurmur said. "He's done a lot of things he needs to do, and we're just trying to get him up to speed with the way we do it."

The decision will be Kelly's, which is the difference between Shurmur in his current role and in his previous role as a head coach with the Browns. Even when he was the offensive coordinator in St. Louis, Shurmur called plays and installed the offense. But Shurmur said his duties are exactly the same with the Eagles as they were with the Rams.

In this stint as an offensive coordinator, he does not have a rookie first-round pick to develop. But Barkley is Shurmur's latest quarterback to develop and could become his next rookie starter.

"At some point, they're in there," Shurmur said of the rookies who start. "You thought enough of them to draft them. You thought enough of them to put them in there. . . . And it just happens."

Peters' absence. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said that left tackle Jason Peters has "his own personal reasons" for not being with the team and that he empathizes with Peters. The player's agent, Eugene Parker, confirmed that Peters was tending to a personal issue and that the absence was not related to last season's pay cut.

Young Guns

Here are the young quarterbacks Pat Shurmur has helped groom as a head coach, offensive coordinator, or quarterbacks coach:

2007:Kevin Kolb, Eagles, rookie. Shurmur was the quarterbacks coach. Kolb played in one game, did not throw a pass, and was sacked twice.

2010:Sam Bradford, Rams, rookie. Shurmur was the offensive coordinator. Bradford was named the starter before the season and threw 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions as the Rams won seven games.

2011: Colt McCoy, Browns, second year. Shurmur was the head coach. McCoy, who played eight games as a rookie in 2010, played 13 games in 2011 and threw 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

2012:Brandon Weeden, Browns, rookie. Shurmur was the head coach. Weeden played 15 games and had 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

2013:Nick Foles, Eagles, second year. Foles played in seven games in 2012 and is competing with Michael Vick to be the starter in 2013.

Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

comments powered by Disqus