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Old 11-20-2019, 12:40 PM
Bijou Drains is offline
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When did NFL QBs no longer call plays?


Pretty sure in the past the QB could call a play. Now I believe all plays are sent in via radio to the QB. There are still audibles to change the play. Defense also can get a setup via radio.

Around what time did the coaches decide the QB could not call the plays?
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:47 PM
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This 1996 New York Times article outlines the timeline:

- Starting in the 1950s, Paul Brown was sending in plays from the sideline by swapping in and out offensive linemen who were acting as messengers, but it was one of his particular innovations.
- In the 1960s, Tom Landry was another coach who was calling his team's plays.
- By the 1970s, it was a split between teams on which the coach was calling plays, and teams on which the QB was still calling plays
- By the 1980s, it was close to universal that coaches were calling plays
- By the time of the article in 1996, it was noted that Jim Kelly was the only QB still calling his own plays, and even then, it was apparently only in certain situations.

Before the NFL allowed the radio receivers in the quarterbacks' helmets, my recollection is that plays were usually sent in by hand signal, typically by an assistant coach (the offensive coordinator or the QB coach). I remember watching Packer games in the late 1970s, in which Zeke Bratkowski (then the Packers' OC) would send in plays by hand signal.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 11-20-2019 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:50 PM
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1994 was when the NFL allowed QBs to have helmet radios.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/p...AYO/story.html
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:51 PM
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some colleges use large symbols or pictures to send in the play
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Old 11-20-2019, 02:58 PM
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I've heard it told that the last NFL QB to call plays was Steve Grogan, but this was at the end of his career in 1989 and 1990 as a backup when he would call the plays from the sideline.
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Old 11-20-2019, 03:10 PM
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Some QBs still can change the plays at the line or call plays during the 2-minute drill, I believe.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 11-20-2019 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 11-20-2019, 03:10 PM
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Until the radios, a lot of QB's were still calling plays during the 2 minute drill. During the regular portion of the game plays were usually ran in and out by swapping out players but that used too much clock.
It helped that there were usually frequent timeouts, most of the play options were pass plays to the sideline and coaches would/could call two plays at a time. So the reality is that the QB might only call 3-4 plays the whole drive.
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Old 11-20-2019, 04:03 PM
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The offensive coordinator is in a much better position to call plays than the QB. Reasons include:

1. The coordinator is sitting in a box high above the field, watching, and has a better perspective of things than the QB.
2. The coordinator is under less stress than the QB (he isn't sweating in pads, getting hit or tackled hard, etc.) and is in a better state of mind to call plays.
3. The coordinator has assistants who can make suggestions or use software or whatever to analyze and think about what is suitable and what is not. He has people who have been analyzing and thinking about the game's progress up to this point.
4. The quarterback is already busy enough mentally executing his job. He doesn't need the additional pressure of having to think about what play to call next; merely recalling his hundreds of plays is work enough for a stressed brain.
5. There is some pressure taken off of the QB in terms of blame or criticism.
6. The coordinator can talk to the head coach about what the head coach wants. The QB can't, unless he wants to waste timeouts while leading a drive series.
7. The QB can be in a mental fog after getting hit hard a few times. The coordinator has a clear mind and brain.

Last edited by Velocity; 11-20-2019 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 11-20-2019, 04:31 PM
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I've seen some OCs on the field but I assume they are talking to someone in the press box. Also have seen DCs on the field too. Both cases were in college.
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Old 11-20-2019, 04:47 PM
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NFL Offensive and Defensive Coordinators are almost always on the field. I can't remember a game where they didn't show the coordinator a few times on TV during the game.
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muldoonthief View Post
NFL Offensive and Defensive Coordinators are almost always on the field. I can't remember a game where they didn't show the coordinator a few times on TV during the game.
Some sit up in the press box. I remember Fangio sat up in the press box when he was with the Bears.
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:10 PM
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The Dallas Cowboys called plays in a game by swapping QB's on each play with Staubach/Morton.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:13 PM
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Why do I think Peyton Manning called his own plays? Was that just hype I bought into?

Last edited by Quimby; 11-20-2019 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quimby View Post
Why do I think Peyton Manning called his own plays? Was that just hype I bought into?
Yeah. Itís a common misconception.

https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nf...134230720.html

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap300...body-does-that
What Peyton did was make checks and adjustments at the line of scrimmage based on what he sees from the defense. But thatís not unusual, many QBs do that. Peyton was lauded for how well he could do that, but thatís different from actually deciding what play to run each down, which was still a sideline call.
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Old 11-21-2019, 10:07 AM
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That said, NFL quarterbacks almost certainly have the latitude to go off-script and call audibles (i.e. change the play entirely at the last second) if it looks like the defense has their number or like something else might work spectacularly.

High school QBs have that latitude, so I can't imagine NFL QBs not having it.
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Old 11-21-2019, 10:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
The offensive coordinator is in a much better position to call plays than the QB. Reasons include:

1. The coordinator is sitting in a box high above the field, watching, and has a better perspective of things than the QB.
2. The coordinator is under less stress than the QB (he isn't sweating in pads, getting hit or tackled hard, etc.) and is in a better state of mind to call plays.
3. The coordinator has assistants who can make suggestions or use software or whatever to analyze and think about what is suitable and what is not. He has people who have been analyzing and thinking about the game's progress up to this point.
4. The quarterback is already busy enough mentally executing his job. He doesn't need the additional pressure of having to think about what play to call next; merely recalling his hundreds of plays is work enough for a stressed brain.
5. There is some pressure taken off of the QB in terms of blame or criticism.
6. The coordinator can talk to the head coach about what the head coach wants. The QB can't, unless he wants to waste timeouts while leading a drive series.
7. The QB can be in a mental fog after getting hit hard a few times. The coordinator has a clear mind and brain.
I don't think anyone would argue that the OC and his staff aren't best positioned to call plays the best. I would just like the game better if they didn't.

Last edited by Red Wiggler; 11-21-2019 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 11-21-2019, 10:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
That said, NFL quarterbacks almost certainly have the latitude to go off-script and call audibles (i.e. change the play entirely at the last second) if it looks like the defense has their number or like something else might work spectacularly.
For sure they do. The Cowboys, for instance, used to (and perhaps still do) keep "emergency plays" that could be switched to at the last moment before snap, if the situation required it. (Retired Dallas QB Tony Romo once elaborated about this in depth after retirement.) One was used for do-or-die "must get a first down" situations, and could be called in just 1-2 seconds with a code word, which everyone would recognize. It involved Witten running past the first down marker and then either breaking right or left based off of where his defender was at the moment.
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