Some teams have the QB make line calls and protection adjustments. Other teams prefer the Center to do that. There isn’t a right or wrong way, only what the coach prefers.
For most of the Reid era, the QB did that. Things changed in 2012 and Jason Kelce was responsible for the calls. That worked fine for his 1.5 games. Backup C Dallas Reynolds took over and the Eagles struggled to pick up the blitz. We can’t put a percentage on how much was due to poor calls, but I’m sure that was a factor. About midseason, Mike Vick had Reid change back to the old way.
Chip Kelly’s system gives the job back to the Center.
Sheil Kapadia spoke to Kelce about this. Here is how the protection is set on a given play.
“It’s all depending on whether it’s a three-down or a four-down defense,” Kelce explained. “And then from there, depending on the protection, there’s an object linebacker that the offensive line takes. And then off of that, then the running backs can all determine who they have, and the tight ends can determine who they have, and the quarterbacks understand who their hots are off of.”
The QB can override the calls if he feels there is a need to do so, but for the most part the C will be getting things set.
The move back to the C running things has nothing to do with individual players. This is just how Kelly likes things done.
Geoff Mosher spoke to Kelce last month and got some good nuggets from him on the situation. The real key isn’t who makes the calls, but rather the fact that all 11 players understand what is going on.
“That’s the biggest thing. If we’re all going to be wrong, we’ve got to be wrong [with] 11 people on the same page and then have the quarterback use his hot read to beat the blitz that we didn’t pick up,” Kelce explained. “And then there will be times where we can slow it down and force [the defense] to show to their hand because they think we’re going into fast tempo and then we’ll know we’re going to be right.
“So the biggest thing, and this is the reason with the hand signals and everything else we’re doing, is we want all 11 players on the same page, because when everyone is doing the same thing it tends to work out better.”
Kelce is new to Kelly’s system, but Jason did play in an up-tempo spread attack at Cincinnati so that will help him with the pace of things. Don’t underestimate how important that is. The faster you go, the more sloppy you can play. If a player is somewhat used to the speed, that will give him an advantage.
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A few people have asked about the coaches talking to the QBs through the helmet between plays. If the coaches get the plays called in quickly, there would be additional time when the coaches could tell the QB other bits of info.
This sounds good in theory, but I’m not sure if it will happen.
It is one thing for a coach to tell a QB something on the sideline and then have the guy run to the huddle. The QB has a couple of seconds to think and clear his head. A coach feeding him info as he stands at the LOS…that would be a lot of info right before the snap. That could lead to paralysis by analysis.
As funny as this sounds, you don’t want your QB thinking too much. He needs to read the defense and think about the play, but you don’t want to overwhelm him with info. We see some QBs at the LOS doing all kinds of things. That is different. That is the QB using info that is already in his head to adjust to what he sees. When someone tells you what to do, you have to process the info. The QB might not handle that the same way.
I could be wrong and Kelly could use this extra window of time, but I just don’t think it is as automatic as some would assume. Kelly does like to use his resources and be on the cutting edge, but he might also not want to micro-manage his QB, especially at the NFL level. In college, the coach is king. In the NFL, you need the QB to run the show. The coach should help him, but the QB must be able to see most things on his own so that he can put that info into action effectively.
We’ll find out soon enough how Kelly does handle this.