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Why do Head Coaches Call the Plays?


Did you ever watch a pro football game and wonder why a head coach calls the plays for the offense or defense? This past Sunday I did some wondering during the Patriots/Texans game, and a little praying at the end. Bill O’Brien called his team’s offensive plays and Bill Belichick left those duties up to his coordinators. My initial reaction; Belichick was doing it the right way, because everyone knows that Belichick is a very good coach (probably a great coach). So why wouldn’t Bill O’Brien do what Belichick does?

After the game, I decided to do a little research. Come to find out, Bill O’Brien is not the only one that calls plays for his team. There are at least 10 others. Most of these coaches are calling the offensive plays and a few are calling the defensive plays? But Why?

Most owners are demanding of their coaches to win now, with little emphasis on building something for the long term. The head coaches are therefore thrown into a state of constant fear of losing their jobs if they don't win now. This fear drives them; to be very short sighted, to hold on to too much control, and to develop serious trust issues.

Bill Belichick is a fantastic coach that has been given the opportunity (Thanks Tom and Bob) to think long term and short term. His fear of being fired has been removed, allowing him the ability to trust his coaches, empower his team, and delegate. Delegation buys him time to figure out ways to win short term and long term.

I'll leave you with a few examples that demonstrate coach Belichick's ability to spend his time wisely. During one of the preseason games this year he let the assistants to the coordinators call the offensive, defensive, and special teams plays. He did this not only to have a contingency plan, but as a learning experience to help the assistants be better prepared to one day get promoted. During a recent game, the offense was able to get off the field and the kicking team was able to get on the field in less than 15 seconds, and make the field goal. An impressive show of great coaching that takes a lot of time, effort, planning, and delegating.

Next time you’re watching an NFL game, pay attention to the head coach. Is he calling plays? Should he be?

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