Play callers in the NFL are always the first to be blamed by fans when things go wrong on the field. It’s easy to blame the play caller because he’s never a celebrated figure on the field, but rather an often unknown face who acts from the sideline. It’s also easy to blame the play caller because he carries out a role that many believe they could easily do better.
It takes a special fan to believe that he could play quarterback or cornerback better than the players on the field. The physical differences are generally obvious and limiting. The play callers don’t offer obvious physical differences. Calling plays is theoretically very easy, even though the determining factor in whether your play is successful or not is never something that you can control.
Any criticism of play calling must be cautious criticism. You can’t judge play calling by the result of the play, because 22 players executing and one other play caller on the other side of the field will all have as big an impact on whether the play is good or bad. Instead you need to understand situations, strengths and weaknesses.
One of the most creative play calls in the NFL last season doesn’t really need to be broken down. It’s simply marvellous in its design and worth watching from multiple angles. Against the Minnesota Vikings, the Carolina Panthers ran a flea-flicker screen pass to tight end Greg Olsen that converted a 1st-and-10.