Head coaches as playcallers in NFC West

March, 18, 2011
3/18/11
3:34
PM ET
A look at NFC West head coaches and play-calling duties after reading Bill Williamson's piece on pulling double duty ...
  • Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona Cardinals: He promoted Mike Miller to offensive coordinator this offseason. Miller has called some of the plays and could call more of them, but Whisenhunt hasn't handed them over formally. Count Whisenhunt among those head coaches who views calling plays during games as one of the most fun parts of the job. It's tough to give up, but with first-time coordinators on both sides of the ball, Whisenhunt's attention might be needed elsewhere at times.
  • Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks. Carroll said during training camp that defensive coordinator Gus Bradley would call the plays. Defensive play calling gets less attention than offensive play calling. I don't recall the subject becoming an issue for discussion much in Carroll's first season. Defenses must set their personnel and call plays based largely on what offenses do, and less based upon what they want to do.
  • Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams. Spagnuolo's defensive background would lend itself to calling plays, but he sees himself as managing the entire team, not just one side of the ball. His former boss, Tom Coughlin, took the same approach. Spagnuolo does become more involved on third down, when blitz packages become more prevalent. Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole calls the defense.
  • Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers. Harbaugh told Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat that coordinator Greg Roman would call the plays. Harbaugh did say the matter had "some complexity" to it, but that the easiest answer would be to say Roman will call the plays. I take that to mean Harbaugh will be very, very involved in the offense, as expected, and his duties will include calling plays on some level, at least some of the time. He's not going to sit back and hand over the offense.

Whisenhunt probably said it best this offseason when he joked that Miller, his new coordinator, would be responsible only for the plays that failed to work. NFC West head coaches will influence play calling even if they do not call the plays all the time.

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