Wristbands take sweat out of calling plays By Dan Pompei - SportingNews Bob Leverone/TSN
If college students were to imitate NFL quarterbacks, a wave of expulsions might wash over the country's campuses. That's because more and more NFL quarterbacks are showing up for their tests with the answers on their wrists.
The Steelers go into each game with every play in their game plan written on Ben Roethlisberger's wristband. The coaches relay the play they want run via the quarterback headset by telling Roethlisberger a number that represents the play. The team tried the wristband approach last year because the coaches thought it would help the rookie quarterback. The Steelers liked the results so much that they are sticking with the wristband this year.
The Panthers have used the wristband approach on all their plays for the past three years. Other teams that rely heavily on wristbands are the Patriots and Cowboys.
Most teams use wristbands as a fallback if the coach-to-quarterback communication system fails, as it inevitably does for every team a couple times each season. Donovan McNabb doesn't go into games wearing a wristband with plays on it, but the Eagles have one on the sideline in case they need it.
Using wristbands enables teams to call plays more expeditiously. They can be especially beneficial to teams such as the Saints, who have wordy offenses. A longer play call can be 15 words. In order to get a play in, the offensive coordinator would have to speak those 15 words to the signal-caller on the sideline. The signal-caller would have to speak those 15 words to the quarterback. And the quarterback would have to speak those 15 words to his teammates.
"It's hard to get it from the coordinator to the signal-caller to the quarterback to all the players, and the burden is all on the quarterback," says Saints coach Jim Haslett, who is experimenting with wristbands this offseason. "We've had problems the last couple years getting plays in."
It's a lot more efficient for the offensive coordinator to relay a number to the signal-caller, then for the signal-caller to tell the number to the quarterback, who then looks at his wristband and reads the play aloud in the huddle.
"Using the wristband, all I have to say is 'two' instead of 'Red right switch split right two U corner halfback flat,' " Packers coach Mike Sherman says.
The Packers call plays off wristbands only in special situations and have approximately 40 plays on Brett Favre's arm. Most are for use in what they call the "strike zone" -- from the opponent's 33-yard line to the end zone.
The teams that are more reliant on wristbands have bigger wristbands, as well as smaller type. The Panthers have 125 numbers with plays next to them. Each of the plays can be run in either direction. Then there are up to three personnel groups that are possible for each play, which also are included on the wristband. So that piece of paper that covers a portion of Jake Delhomme's forearm contains about 700 possibilities.
"We have young eyes out there," Panthers offensive coordinator Dan Henning says of the small type. Still, mistakes happen. Bills coach Mike Mularkey says he has seen the small type throw quarterbacks one line off and force them to call the wrong play.
Some teams don't use wristbands because their offenses have more formation variations, and a wristband can't tell their quarterbacks all they need to know given all the subcategories of plays.
"There's red zone, short-yardage, goal-line, 2-minute, plays vs. novel defenses," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan says. "Then substitution plays, four wides, three wides and a tight end. If you had it all on the wristband, you'd have to have it from your elbow to wrist on both hands to cover all scenarios."
Another disadvantage of the wristband method is the quarterback might not think about the play as much as he's reading it.
"You can get a little dependent on it, having to read it," Steelers coach Bill Cowher says. "We like to get to the point where (Roethlisberger) is not so dependent reading it all because we like the quarterback to be able to visualize the play. We're going to try to do a little more of that this year."
Having a quarterback who was overly dependent on the wristband would be a big problem if the wristband were torn off.
"People try to rip them off your wrist, and you have to make sure you don't lose them," Cowher says. "It's on pretty tight, but you have to protect it with your life."
Henning isn't as concerned about thievery. He says even if the wristband were to end up in an opponent's hands, the opponent would not know which play was coming. And the wristband would be obsolete for the next game because the Panthers change numbers every week.
With the way offenses have become more complicated, wristbands aren't just for wiping off sweat anymore.
mtryanks12 wrote:wow, now I know how my history class can cheat! We can all wear them and relay the answers to one another. "Question: 4, Answer: C."
Until a hall monitor tackles you and rips it off!
You must be from the disco days.
They don't have hall monitors anymore???
No way. Are you kidding me?
no hall monitors....hrmph.....didn't know.
yanks, we "disco" era fogies don't keep up on general school policies. When I graduated in the 80's, hall monitors were 'all the rage' in school policy. If anything, the escalating violence in schools would demand more hall monitors, no?
Top 3 problems with schools---1950
1. gum chewing
2. talking in class
3. stepping out of line(literally "non-uniform line")
Top 3 problems with schools---2005
1. student violence
you would think by now riot police would patrol the hallways...