Coordinators: To Booth Or Not To Booth?

Former full-time blogger Brian Tinsman took a break from the straight-laced world of to share a few thoughts on FOX analyst Brian Billick’s recent interview with Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The topic: should coordinators be on the field or in the booth? For the answer, keep scrolling.

To the untrained eye, the average NFL sideline looks like a chaotic intersection of players, coaches, officials, trainers, photographers, videographers and security. Throw in the melee of a game, the pressure of a play clock and the roar of 90,000 fans, and it’s amazing that any coach can focus long enough to dictate a game plan.

For those coaches that cannot brave the elements, there is a coaching booth in the upper decks of the stadium designed to give coaches a bird’s eye view of the action, an extra look at instant replay, and a little bit more elbow room on the sidelines.

Six Redskins coaches sit in the booth during the average game: quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, assistant defensive backs coach Richard Hightower, offensive line assistant Chris Morgan, offensive assistants Richmond Flowers and Mike McDaniel, and defensive assistant Bobby Slowik.  On the plus side, these coaches watch the game in a temperature controlled environment, with the perks of catering and bathroom facilities.  The bad news is they have to run to the elevators at halftime in order to be present in the locker room, making schedules tight at crunch time.

One coach that doesn’t have that issue is offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who has spent exactly one game in the booth during his nine-year NFL coaching career.  He told NFL analyst Brian Billick that he much prefers being on the field where he can be close to the action–just not too close.

[Just remember that this blog is brought to you by Papa John’s, Official Pizza of the Washington Redskins.]

As someone who must oversee all elements of the offensive gameplan, it makes sense for Kyle to observe the action on the ground level.  After all, any fan that has watched a game at the stadium knows that the perspective granted by seat location makes or breaks the experience.

But the more important reason for Kyle to be on the sidelines is his relationship with rookie signal caller Robert Griffin III.  Kyle calls the plays on offense, and it is up to Griffin III to listen, understand and execute.  If the two find themselves not on the same page, they need to be able to communicate–something that should not be entrusted to a faulty ear piece in the quarterback’s helmet.

Perhaps this year more than ever before, Kyle’s presence on the sideline has directly contributed to a team win.  Judging by the shorts in this video, it was filmed some time this fall, and likely before the dramatic comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4.

If you recall, during the final game-winning drive at Raymond James Stadium, Griffin III’s headset mysteriously stopped working, malfunctioning at a critical juncture of the game…Regardless of how it happened, Griffin III improvised for several plays before gesturing to Kyle that his headphone wasn’t working.

“That’s when I realized they were out,” Kyle said after the game.  “I didn’t get what play we were running and I could see he didn’t hear it.  We had two more plays and it worked out.”

If Kyle was in the booth that day, he may not pick up on the fact that Griffin III can’t hear him.  The Redskins were able to stop the clock after several improvised plays, and Griffin III huddled up with Kyle Shanahan on the sideline.

Three plays after that, the Redskins scored three points and Griffin III had his first ever fourth-quarter comeback.  Can you imagine what would happen if Kyle was in the booth?

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