Pat Shurmur’s 13-year tenure with Philadelphia could come back to haunt Eagles on Thursday


When you look back at the final weeks of the 2015 NFL season, the sudden dismissal of Chip Kelly remains a particular talking point. After all it was the catalyst for change that helped rebuild a fractured Eagles team both on the field and on the sidelines, with the acquisition of a new Head Coach and franchise quarterback on the horizon. Two years later and the Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions…but if we were to play a game of ‘what if?’, there’s every reason to believe that the Eagles could’ve headed in a different direction.

Coaching the team in the final game of that rollercoaster 2015 season was Pat Shurmur. Having spent 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and 3 as the team’s offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly, Shurmur was promoted as the interim Head Coach and his first challenge would be to rally a broken locker room to a victory to close out the season.

“It was a battlefield promotion for one week.” Shurmur said on a conference call ahead of Thursday night’s game. It was an honor to be the Head Coach, I coached there for 13 years, 10 with Andy and 3 with Chip. It’s a big part of who I am. At that time it was a time of big change for the Eagles and they obviously went with Doug and a new staff and it’s worked out really well for them, they’ve won a Super Bowl. Along the way you learn a lot of things, I don’t know how much of that will apply to this game.

A 35-30 win over the Giants of all teams at least gave the Birds a sign of positivity. 435 yards of total offense raised eyebrows and finally, DeMarco Murray broke off for a 54-yard score on his first carry under the new Head Coach. He naturally interviewed for the full-time position and was considered a leading candidate until the end, when underdog Doug Pederson snatched that job from his clutches.

Shurmur landed in Minnesota, reuniting with Sam Bradford and coordinating the offense during Minnesota’s stunning 2017 campaign that ended in heartbreak at the hands of his former employer. Such success earned Shurmur some serious notoriety and a level of expectation that he was ready to be a Head Coach again after a failed stint in Cleveland. Shurmur signed with the New York Giants, replacing Ben McAdoo and starting a new chapter for the G-Men.

You can take the dog out of the fight, but you can’t take the fight out of the dog, as the famous saying goes. Shurmur spent such a long time in Philadelphia that he was always bound to be familiar with the concepts that the team will roll into the Meadowlands with this week. By the sounds of it, that will play a large part in preparing for the divisional clash.

“The offense is similar, I recognize all those concepts they try to run.” He explained. “I was with Jeff Stoutland and he and I were with Chip. The ones that Doug obviously bought from the Chiefs, after my west coast background I recognize the patterns they’re trying to run. They execute extremely well and have an outstanding quarterback. For them it comes down to execution and good players make good plays.”

Executing is something that has evaded the Eagles in the first five games of the season. Drops, misfires, the 2nd most QB hits allowed of any team in the NFL, missed assignments and some questionable decisions from quarterback and coach have left the Eagles spluttering. Every step forward feels like a step back, highlighted by the Eagles’ explosive start to the second half against Shurmur’s most recent team, the Vikings, on Sunday, only for that progress to be thwarted by a Jay Ajayi fumble.

To make things worse, the Giants come into this matchup with a defense that’s beginning to find its momentum. Making life difficult for Cam Newton and a diverse Panthers offense, the top-10 ranked unit held Christian McCaffrey to just 3.4 yards per carry and forced Cam to turn the ball over twice.

The Giants were 63-yards away from a win on Sunday, while the Eagles felt like they were light-years away until it was too late. Shurmur’s familiarity with the offense could be yet another barrier stopping this team from flourishing. Frank Reich and John DeFilippo have now both made life difficult for the Eagles offense and for the third time in six weeks, a former Eagles coach could come back to haunt them.


Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports