The autonomy of the Quarter Back, and the guy on defense too

Does the NFL QB ever get to decide what game to play, or is he “only” doing as he’s told through that device in his helmet?

When he sees that defense is acting unexpected, and changes the game (forgot the term), is it he, or the offense coordinator, or either?

Also, a conflict as the one between coach D’Amato and QB Steamin’ Beamen in Any Given Sunday,* is that something that might have happened in NFL…?

Moreover, now that defense also get to have a communication device in one helmet on the field, is that changing the way defense work? Did they rely on signs before that, or did the “lieutenant” get to decide?

  • In short, the young star QB is not executing the games he’s been told to.

It depends on the quarterback. Most are allowed to audible at the line of scrimmage and change the play based on the defensive alignment. Rarely, a quarterback will even pretend to hand off and keep the ball himself without telling anyone beforehand. The quarterback is not in contact the with the sideline after 15 seconds before the play clock expires. If a quarterback is changing the play it is usually after the communication with the sidelines is over.
Previous to the defense helmet being radio equipped defensive signals were relayed to the defensive captain via hand signals.

I’m pretty sure that every NFL quarterback is given the play(s) over the radio by the offensive coordinater. The variation is that some QBs, like Peyton Manning and probably Tom Brady are given a choice of plays to choose from on each down by the offensive coordinator. I know they have said that time and time again during Colts games that the OC, Tom Moore will give Peyton three plays to pick from. Of course, every QB can audible at the line if the called play doesn’t appear to match up will with what the defense is throwing at them at the time. Before the in helmet radios, the plays used to be signaled in by hand signals, or more commonly, a player would relay the play in from the sideline.

The defense used hand signals up until this year to call the defensive scheme. Remember that whole spygate thing with the Patriots taping defensive calls? That was them filming what signals were being sent to the defense, and also filming the resulting defensive allignments. With a radio in the helmet of one of the defensive players, there is no longer a need for the hand signals. The defensive coordinator is still calling the defensive scheme, same as before, and what they get paid to do, just the method of relaying the call has changed.

Moving to The Game Room from GQ.

General Questions Moderator

In the NFL, the system works like this:

Playcaller (offensive coordinator, head coach, or sometimes even a position coach) calls a play into the QB.

QB checks play against wristband, gives team the lowdown (in huddle). Team lines up. Here’s where it gets tricky- depending on the quarterback and the coordinator, the QB will have anything from 2-20* preset (ie. selected before the game) audibles to switch to, once he sees the defensive alignment. At a minimum, there will be a run and a max protect** pass; the QB may have the option to “flip” the play, ie. run left instead of run right.

More commonly, the QB will have a choice of 2*** conventional running plays 2 draw/delay runs, 2 conventional passing plays, 1-2 screens, and 2 play action passes.

*Peyton Manning gets a three plays from the coordinator (plus preset audibles). I think the Pats do something similar with Brady.
**Keeping two or more extra blockers in against a blitz.