Communication and Calls

Posted: June 26th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 27 Comments »

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.

* * * * *

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.

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  • Cafone

    Do you think we can expect Kelly to be more prepared if Kelce goes out with injury this season?

    • TommyLawlor

      The key was that Reynolds had never played before. Any new guy would have struggled. Reynolds was much better in December than in September. I have no problem with him being the backup C this year.

      • Mitchell

        After what happened with all the injuries last year, do you think that we have enough depth to weather a storm like that again on the o-line?

        • Cafone

          I don’t think any team could weather that storm. Teams just don’t have the luxury of multiple starter quality backups for all offensive line positions.

          • TommyLawlor

            Exactly.

  • Iskar36

    I think there is also a technical challenge with giving your QB more info. I’ve definitely seen plenty of QBs struggle to hear the coach calling the play itself when playing an away game. You often see QBs covering the ear holes in their helmet to help them hear the coach better. At the line of scrimmage, while the center is trying to call out line calls, I imagine it would be very difficult to hear Kelly while also hearing the line calls and trying to process all that information.

    • TommyLawlor

      This definitely is an angle to consider.

      • morenthemiddle

        An interesting angle on this is how Kelly calls in the plays. I remember reading they have one word denoting the play, each letter means something in the play. I would imagine that could help.

  • barneygoogle

    One thing I never got about Andy Reid, even though he emphasized the offensive line, was that he did not choose to keep a veteran back-up center. If you want to assign major calls to the center–why do you keep a young “project” as your back-up? When Kelce went down last year, everything collapsed along the line. His loss was actually worse than the loss of Peters.

  • D3Center

    Are the Eagles even going to use the radio in the helmet to signal in plays this year? I was under the impression plays would be signaled from the sideline so that the entire team could see them at once.

    • John Gurney

      I think thats what Tommy is talking about in the article, at least thats how I took it anyway. The coaches will be signalling plays from the sideline so the QB won’t have to call them and the center will be making protection calls which will free up the QB’s radio for other communications. So the radio might not even be necessary for every down although I’m sure there will be times the coaches will make an adjustment through the radio it won’t be an every down thing.

      • Alex Karklins

        As I understand it, Shurmur or Lazor will still use the radio to give the QB the play call. The hand signals are for the other players on the field.

        • John Gurney

          Ahhh Ok, I guess the extra radio time Tommy is talking about would come from the QB not having to call the plays to everyone on the field… or I’m just not getting it lol

  • Tumtum

    Kelce seems like a very bright guy. Almost spoken like a coach.

  • eagleyankfan

    It’s understood that the QB has a lot on his plate pre-snap. However, since he’s standing up — wouldn’t he be able to see the defense better than the C? After the C gets to the line of scrimmage, couldn’t the defense move around and change their look? From my view(as a fan), I don’t understand the advantage of the C calling the blocking scheme when he only sees the defense as he jogs to ball and get ready to snap it. How does he see, in that short amount of time then entire D? I trust Chip and Kelce – it’s just the understanding of it…

    • John Gurney

      I might be reading too much into it but maybe they are expecting Vick to be the starter and don’t want him making the adjustments, or at the very least want Kelce to be doing it in case Vick is starting. This of course is based on the theory that Vick sucks at reading defenses and making adjustments.

      • EaglesHero87

        Ha, that’s exactly what I wrote in my earlier post. I wonder how much Kelly entrusts both Vick and Foles with the line adjustments, and how much each should amount the responsibilities along with the Center.

    • D3Center

      In my experience at the position, when making the calls the center is generally responsible only for the players in the box (generally the front 7 but a blitzing safety could be in there). The center is able, if smart enough to see any movement, and will be able to adjust from there based on tape study and game plans. Also seeing the D from a three point stance is not as difficult as you’d imagine. The whole goal of having the center call the blocking scheme is that he can recognize the blitzes and handle the blocking so that the qb can focus on coverages.

      • TommyLawlor

        Good stuff, D3C.

        * * *

        The C is identifying the MLB (which helps set the protection). He also can be looking at 4-man line vs 3-man line and also over/under shifts. That’s it.

        • eagleyankfan

          The C wouldn’t be responsible for S or Corner blitzes – assuming they are blitzing outside the DE’s?
          Thanks for the responses. Makes more sense.

          • D3Center

            Correct, a corner blitz would be on the tackle if a slide protection is called towards the blitz, on the back if protection calls for that or on the QB to make a quick read or throw.

      • EaglesHero87

        Nice analysis, D3C. It’s funny how a good number of people don’t recognize the C is arguably one of the more, if not as equally important as the QB, important positions. I know they don’t get the same amount of recognition as the QB, but these guys lay the foundation in the trenches and make the calls at the line.

        • D3Center

          Thanks and might be a little biased but I agree with you completely on the importance of the center.

  • EaglesHero87

    If Vick is the starting QB, one would think Kelly will delegate the calls to Kelce (or whoever the C will be) simply because, well, Vick just isn’t as good with the pre-snap reads as we’d like him to be.

    Speaking of which, which leads me to wonder…during the season in which Vick was playing so well in the ’10 season, was Vick making the calls? ‘Cause if that was the case, wouldn’t Reid or someone have addressed Vick’s poor inability to read the defense after that Vikings game in which they provided the blitzing blueprint?

    Now, if Foles (or Barkley) becomes the starting QB, would Kelly still delegate the calls to Kelce, even though these QBs do a better job at recognizing the pre-snap reads?

    • OregonDucker

      At Oregon, I believe the pre-snap reads were made by the OC in the box and Chip. During the snap count, the play was relayed via billboard and hand signals. Typically, the QB paused in the snap count to get the play and pre-snap reads, as did the line and others.

      With the Eagles, I think the process will be different. But Chip will still call the plays with input from the OC in the box. I think the play will come during the snap count. No billboard this time, but hand signals and headset will communicate the play. I have no idea how much control Chip will give the QB and Center in the NFL. Unlike college, I think he will defer to the Center and QB on the hot reads (I personally would like a good definition of “hot reads”). Whether he will let the QB overrule the play call at the last minute I just don’t know – I suspect he will not let that happen.

    • shah8

      Generally, in Reid’s system, the QB didn’t have a lot of latitude to change plays, and neither did the receivers. DB blitzes are not typically safe to do, regardless of whether the QB reads it or not. Which is why you don’t really see too many of those. They happen when the DC thinks he’s caught the offense napping. They also happen because the DC has a Winfield-type CB or Polamalu type S.

      They also happen to offenses that’s trying too hard for big plays too often.

  • Flyin

    Chip may just play music in the QBs headset.