Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Oh, snap! Center-QB exchange important
By Tim Graham
Indianapolis Colts fixtures Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday are about to set a record.
Unless an injury befalls one of them, Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars will be the 158th start together for Manning and Saturday.
That will be the most quarterback-center exchanges since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, breaking the record held the past 14 years by Jim Kelly and Kent Hull with the Buffalo Bills.
"The chemistry between those two is a must for a quarterback to be successful," Kelly said. "I was blessed because I had Kent Hull for more than 90 percent of the snaps that I took in the NFL."
Although the quarterback gets the credit for audibles at the line of scrimmage, something Manning is famous for, the center plays a crucial role.
"We would go up to the line and Kent would turn to me and say 'Get out of it,' " Kelley said. "He knew based on the alignment of the nose tackle whether it was a 3-4 or a 4-3. He always knew if the play was going to work by their initial alignment when we'd get up there. I wouldn't even ask any questions or wait to look."
In the AFC East, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and center Dan Koppen are on the verge of breaking into the top five. They've started 103 games together and should surpass Phil Simms and Bart Oates on Halloween. Brady and Koppen have been to four Super Bowls together and won the first three.
New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and All-Pro center Nick Mangold have a long way to go to catch up, but they're next at 19 starts.
The Miami Dolphins have rotated their centers every year. Young quarterback Chad Henne and center Joe Berger started six games last year and all three this year.
New Buffalo Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has started nine games with center Geoff Hangartner.