When you are watching an NFL game it may seem like there are multiple head coaches, as there are multiple coaches calling plays. Like in other sports, the NFL has assistant coaches called coordinators who help the head coach runt he team. What do NFL coordinators do?
NFL Coordinators are assistant coaches who help the head coach create game plans, coach specific player groups, oversee strategy for one particular phase of the game, and usually call or help call plays on gameday. NFL Coordinators are very important for teams if they want to have a successful franchise. When teams are looking for new head coaches, they usually choose from others teams coordinators.
NFL head coaches need help to run their teams and make sure they are doing everything to get ready for game days. So naturally, NFL teams have numerous assistant coaches who help support the head coach. NFL teams are split into 3 main categories: offense, defense, and special teams. NFL Coordinators are the leaders of each one of those categories.
These coordinators will all report to the head coach and will be responsible for the teams success in that area. As mentioned, if teams are very successful in the area the coordinator is overseeing, then that coordinator becomes a head coach at some point.
In this article, lets take look at what NFL Coordinators do and why they are important to a team.
What do NFL Coordinators Do?
NFL coordinators are essential parts of a team’s coaching staff. What they are most known for by many is calling plays during games although sometimes head coaches do that.
During the week leading up to gameday, coordinators will implement game plans specific to the opposition. They also leading their part of the team during practices as they implement those game plans. They will watch a lot of prior game film to show their players what they did that worked well and what needs to be changed. This is one tool they use to get their players ready for their next opponent.
While they are responsible for an entire phase of the game, coordinators will also focus practice time on a specific position group, such as the quarterbacks or linebackers and so on. NFL coordinators usually have prior experience coaching these position groups, so they tend to still help in those areas after they have been promoted to a coordinator.
While coordinators are the leaders of a phase of team, they still report to the head coach. So they will be in constant communication with the head coach on game plans, practice drills, and strategy. The head coach will make sure that all 3 phases of the team are on the same page and all working together based on the strengths of the team.
On game day, many coordinators will be the ones calling the plays. So while the head coach will make all the game play decisions, for example, going for it on 4th down or punting, the coordinators are the ones deciding whether to run or pass on offense or whether to blitz or not on defense.
One of the coordinators will also usually be the one to step into the role of head coach if that person is not available for a game. While the coordinators are all equal on the organizational chart, one of them would be designated to be the second in command behind the head coach. Coordinators also manage several position coaches, which are different than coordinators, as well.
Despite coordinators not receiving anywhere near the media and other attention that head coaches do, they are pivotal and play significant roles in how well teams play on Sundays.
How many coordinators do NFL teams have?
NFL teams have three coordinators: an offensive coordinator, a defensive coordinator and a special teams coordinator. They all report to the head coach. Below each of these coordinators are various position coaches and other types of coaches. In fact, NFL coaching staffs have a significant amount of personnel.
An offensive coordinator will usually have a quarterbacks coach, running backs coach, wide receivers coach, tight ends coach, offensive line coach. Some teams have also started having other personnel such as assistant position coaches, offensive quality control coaches and passing game coaches.
A defensive coordinator will usually have a defensive line coach, linebackers coach, defensive backs coach, and a safeties coach. Teams have started having assistant defensive position coaches, defensive passing game coaches and defensive quality control coaches.
A special teams coordinator will generally only oversee one or more assistant special teams coaches.
What is the difference between a coordinator and a position coach?
Offensive and defensive coordinators have more of a comprehensive view of their parts of their teams, focusing more on strategies and play calling. Conversely, the position coaches who report to them, focus more so on the specific elements of the game as they relate to those playing those positions.
For example, a quarterbacks coach is more likely to help the team’s quarterbacks with their pass-drop technique and their ability to escape chasing defensive players. Meanwhile, a defensive line coach will work with his players on how to engage in pass rushing and gap control, and so on.
Position coaches help offensive and defensive coordinators create game plans for the upcoming opposition as well. Additionally, offensive and defensive coordinators are more apt to work in the press box during games, while the position coaches will almost always be on the sidelines with the team.
One other difference is that although teams generally have three coordinators, the number of position coaches can fluctuate significantly from team to team.
Why are coordinators important to an NFL team?
NFL teams are similar to all organizations in that they need to have structure so the ones at the top (head coach) can be as efficient with their time as possible. It is not reasonable to ask a NFL head coach to manage the 53 players on his roster to the level of degree necessary to be successful.
It is also not reasonable for that same person to also serve as offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. Most head coaches will only specialize in one of those areas, albeit still possessing solid knowledge in all three areas, which is necessary to be a successful leader of a team.
Coordinators are also important in that they allow position coaches to focus more so on the minute details of what their players need to work on. This allows the head coach and coordinators time to focus on strategy and finalizing game plans.