Breaking It Down


Football is a game of inches. It is also a game of incredible discipline and teamwork. It is hard to truly understand the game when watching a typical TV broadcast as there is too much going on at once.

Matt Bowen is a great football reporter for the National Football Post who manages to explain the subtle nuances of the game to the layman like myself. As a former NFL player, he has an incredible amount of insight into the game of football. He has recently added chalkboard sessions which are an absolute must see if you are a student of the game.

In this chalk talk, he explains how the Atlanta Falcons managed to intercept a Peyton Manning pass. (As a Patriot fan, a Manning interception and the ensuing “Manning face” is a special joy. 🙂 Note to all Manning fans – relax, both of the Manning QBs are great and probable hall of famers.)

Watch the video…

What you will see after watching the video is the incredible complexity involved in coordinating eleven men on a field. Add to this that they are under stress performing in front of 80,000 live fans and millions of fans at home. And the players on the field have to decide which play to run and coordinate responsibilities in less than 25 seconds.

Because of this time constraint, the players and coaches have devised their own language and shortcuts to communicate with one another. All this information comes through a headset to one player on the defence who then relays the info to the rest of the team. An example of a play call may be something like “3-4 normal weak storm roll”.

Another thing to look for when watching is when the “Mike” or middle linebacker (usually the player calling the plays) starts frantically yelling at his teammates and banging his helmet with both hands. This means he does not think they will stop the offense and that they need to switch to their back up play.

It is not necessary to understand all this when watching a game, but it does open your eyes to why a play works or does not work.

In any case, I’m glad football is back and the game is fun to watch.


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