Eli5: What do the defensive and offensive coordinators in football actually do that the head coach doesn’t?


Eli5: What do the defensive and offensive coordinators in football actually do that the head coach doesn’t?

In: 13

The head coach doesn’t always (or even often) call the plays. The coordinators will follow the head coach’s game plan, but they call the plays.

The coach picks options from a menu, that plastic card you always see them holding. The OC and DC teach the players plays and formations. They design the choices that are on the card, and only put them on the card when the players have learned to do them.

Offense and Defense coordinators generally are responsible for calling the plays during the game and being in charge of their respective set of players. The head coach is involved, but usually the bulk of the duty falls on the coordinator for play calling. The Coach (with help from the coordinators) creates the game plan, the coordinates make it happen

Some coaches call their own plays on one side of the game, but generally its a coordinator who does it all.

Think of the coordinators as part of a business team, each one heads a department: “head of the offense” or “head of the defense” where the head coach is overall in charge of everyone like a CEO. The head coach comes up with the strategy and the coordinators execute it.

The roles are different depending on the level. For the NFL, most coordinators collaborate with the head coach and delegate other tasks to position coaches. Most head coaches are experts at either offense or defense and so contribute more to that side of the ball while checking in with the other side. For example, many head coaches with an offensive background still call plays. Sticking with offense, the other responsibilities for an NFL coordinator would be
– watching hours of your film to see where the team can improve and analyze the success of certain formations plays and player groupings
– watching hours of the next opponent’s film to see where they are weak and predict how they will play defense against you in as many situations as you have time
– coordinate game plan and delegate activities and film sessions for position groups (receivers, line, etc.)
– create a script of plays for practice and run that portion of practice
– review practice film to see what needs to to be adjusted
– collaborative meetings with all your coaches and the HC to continue to improve game plan
– potentially call plays and review pictures of the game to adjust to what the defense is doing

The big thing they do is game planning. They watch countless hours of film, note the tendencies of their opponents, and design plays to try and take advantage of those tendencies.

That’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of time. In college they also do a lot of teaching to the players so the kids can learn the offense and defense.