Pat Shurmur has spent every game in the coaching booth since he returned to the Eagles as offensive coordinator in 2013. On Sunday, Shurmur will be on the sideline.
As in the interim head coach, Shurmur will take over all of Chip Kelly's duties, including the offensive play-calling. He is tasked with trying to keep the players' attention for one game against the New York Giants that holds no bearing on the record.
Shurmur, 50, is a former head coach of the Cleveland Browns who spent 14 years in the NFL before joining Kelly's staff. On Sunday, his team will mostly resemble what the Eagles looked like under Kelly, with a no-huddle, up-tempo offense. He has run practice for the last two days in the same way Kelly did with the Eagles.
"I think we started something in motion here," Shurmur said. "The players are used to doing things a certain way and very many of the things that we're doing are right. So we're going to try to keep it as business as usual as it can be in a very odd week and go out and put our best effort forward to beat the Giants."
Still, Shurmur could not deny that it's been a "unique week." He was called to Jeffrey Lurie's office on Tuesday afternoon. Lurie told Shurmur that Kelly had been dismissed and asked Shurmur to coach the finale.
Shurmur spoke to Kelly, who shared with his coordinator what was said in the meeting with Lurie. They wished each other well, "and that was it." Shurmur said they didn't get into much detail because attention needed to be turned to the game on Sunday.
The biggest difference was at the beginning of practice on Wednesday, when emotions were still raw from Lurie's decision the previous evening.
"I think it would have been really silly for me to say yesterday was just a normal day," Shurmur said. "Let's not call that normal. It felt to me a little bit when we started practice like the first day after you cut down to the 53. You guys have all been out here and seen practice where it's a little bit weird. Some of the faces are not there.
"And so it started, in my opinion, a little slow, but by the end, they were all ripping and roaring and it looked like a normal day. I give the guys credit; they handled it in a very professional way."
Tight end Zach Ertz said the players liked how detailed Shurmur has been in explanations this week. Safety Malcolm Jenkins said the only time it's a challenge to prepare for the game on Sunday is when reporters are asking about the coaching change.
Shurmur said he had conversations with Eagles management and said that the only directive was to coach the team and win the game. In that spirit, Shurmur said he's not going to deviate from Kelly's plan of approaching the Week 17 game like any other week. He will not play younger players for the purpose of evaluation.
"We're going to do what we have to do to win the game," Shurmur said. "I wouldn't give you the details of my message to the team, but basically I just told the team that we're all very proud, competitive guys and men making a living. We're just coaching and playing a game that we've loved since we were a kid. It's very important to show respect for ourselves, for our teammates, for our organization and for the game itself, to go out and fight tooth-and-nail and try to beat the Giants and that's the reality of it."
Shurmur's personality won't change from coordinator to head coach - "been a head coach before," he said - but the circumstances are different. He did not get into whether he wants to be considered for the head coaching job, but he did speak about the attractiveness of the Eagles' opening and his affection for the organization. He said he did not view Sunday as an audition.
"I've sort of looked at every day of my life as an audition," Shurmur said. "It just so happens that the last game of the year is against the Giants in the Meadowlands, and that's about it."