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Rodgers Right To Be Wary Of Microphones

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Rodgers Right To Be Wary Of Microphones

Teams with offenses that are predicated on the quarterback making a majority of their offensive calls at the line of scrimmage - such as the Green Bay Packers - should be wary over the NFL requiring every team to have either the center or both guards to wear microphones under their shoulder pads.

After the umpire, who is mic'd up, was moved into the offensive backfield, the league and its television partners decided they needed to be sure they captured the line noise.

From Sam Farmer at the L.A. Times:

Ambient sound from the field was lost when, for safety reasons, the league moved the umpires from the middle of the defense to behind the quarterbacks. Those officials wore microphones, so when they were removed from that mosh pit they took most of the sound with them.

"Sound complements picture like picture complements sound," said NBC's Fred Gaudelli, "Football Night in America" producer. "One without the other is incomplete."

Unfortunately, a serious unintended consequence has reared its ugly head, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is smartly speaking out about it.

Speaking with Jason Wilde last week, Rodgers pointed out that opposing defenses could easily take advantage of the new set up. It's not too hard to see how.

Watching the Falcons game on Sunday night, I was shocked how much both quarterbacks could be heard at the line of scrimmage, along with the centers making the line calls prior to the snap. Any enterprising defensive coordinator could have a staff member go back through the tape, listen to the calls - and then match them up with the film of each corresponding play.

This is especially troubling for teams like the Packers, Patriots and Saints who use a lot of "check with me"-type plays at the line of scrimmage, where the offense has a few possible plays called and the offense waits for the quarterback to decide which play to run after looking at the defense.

Rodgers is spot on when he says:

I think something needs to be done about it, I really do. It's one of those things where, when an offense had the headset and the defense had to signal in plays and you had the whole Spy Gate stuff, the competition committee met and decided it was in the best interest of the league for fair play to have a defensive player have a headset on. Now you're mic-ing the center and (teams are) able to hear cadence and potential calls at the line of scrimmage. I think something needs to be done with the competition committee.

And if you don't think teams would go to these kind lengths to get a leg up on their opponents, you must have slept through Spy Gate.

It's interesting to note that players league-wide are unhappy with the new arrangement. Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk went so far as to remove the mic prior to the Ravens game against the Jets. Birk was fined $5,000 by the league (he plans to appeal, saying the mic was jabbing him in the neck). One has to wonder if teams will quietly offer to pay these fines...

(The NFL did not immediately respond when I asked them for comment - which makes sense since I'm just some yahoo-nobody, but I did want to give them a chance to comment on the matter.)

The NFL is a creature of television. I understand their wanting to placate the networks. But this is a major mis-step that needs to be rectified.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (22) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackersRS's picture

I really can't complain, since I absolutely love Sound FX and NFL Films.

And that's the first time I've seen someone call Belichick enterprising.

tony's picture

This is the first I've heard on this, and I can't imagine it'll stick if players are THAT pissed. With 11 games left, teams should just fork over the 55k and not wear them. Compeltely stupid.

dullgeek's picture

As a fan, I enjoy being able to hear the calls. It helps me to maintain the illusion that I might learn something about the game by listening to the changes and knowing what they mean.

But I don't want that at the expense of giving the other team an advantage.

I mean, I'd like to look at the playbook, too. But it's not terribly surprising that it's not available.

Ceallaigh's picture

With the Packers leading the other 31 at this point, you know not only NFC rivals, but the movers and shakers in the AFC that see the Packers as a potential Super Bowl opponent are trying to have any advantage possible when it comes to facing the Pack. To think this isn't used as a weapon is not to realize how coaches think. Billicheat cheated once. He's bound to do it again.

PackerAaron's picture

"Billicheat cheated once"

You mean he got caught once.

And don't for a second think that many if not most teams have dabbled in SpyGate-type stuff at one time or another...

ppabich's picture

If you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'

Ceallaigh's picture

Exactly. He got caught once. That just means he's trying harder not to get caught.

ppabich's picture

I wonder if the Packers are doing this...

Adam Czech's picture

Don't NFL teams change up their calls week to week? I guess I always assumed they did. So if Rodgers comes to the line, scans the field, and yells out "Okkahoma! Blue! Wide!" to switch an in-route to a post pattern, wouldn't it make sense to change "Oklahoma! Blue! Wide!" to mean a different play the following week?

I always assumed teams changed the meaning of their calls week to week, even before centers were mic'd. I guess I was wrong.

PackerAaron's picture

There's only so much you can change up without things falling apart. Hell, they're lucky if guys remember the snap count that was told to them 30 seconds prior in the huddle...

Adam Czech's picture

Yeah, I guess we're not talking about rocket scientists.

But if lack of mental capacity is the main reason for not changing offensive calls weekly, what makes us think defensive players have the capacity to memorize both their own calls, and the other team's offensive calls week to week?

PackerAaron's picture

I don't think its as complicated as all that. Could be as simple as the D coordinator telling his MLB (or whoever makes the calls on defense) "whenever you hear x, or a combination of these two or three words, you should change to this" etc

PackersRS's picture

I'm pretty sure there are TONS of dummy calls in a series.

Teams stabilish tendencies to exploit them later on.

AJKUHN's picture

If they actually look into this I would think some sort of solution that allows the Tv audience a fun experience, and also meets fair competition. Maybe limiting the number of snaps that the mics are on, or cutting them off at a certain point on the play clock like the QBs helmet speaker. Maybe mic linebackers instead, should be a similar sound quality as the umpire prior to the move.

dullgeek's picture

But linebackers make defensive calls, which I presume would be audible over the offense's calls, and susceptible to the same problems, just on the other side of the ball.


AJKUHN's picture

Excellent point.

FITZCORE1252's picture


aussiepacker's picture

In the atlanta game you could hear all the calls from both quarterbacks quite easily and at one time i heard Ryan call olive and that was a turner run up the middle, Then later in the game when he was calling olive i said they are going to run up the middle, and they did. So moral of the story is if i can work that out any one with half a brain can work out a lot more than that, so i think it is a dangerous situation.

Michael's picture

Agreed. I heard "olive" probably the same times as you and I think a third time too.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Watched that game again last night, I heard the "Olive" a few times as well, but I could of sworn I also heard Ryan yelling "Sell Shit, Sell Shit" at the line with 8:25 to go in the 4th. If anybody has the game, go back and watch... did I hear that right?

Another comment that I have after seeing it again...

On the TD to Jones... That throw was hella impressive at first blush, but Rodgers didn't even throw that in rythym. He went with the play action (sorta half assed) and as he hit his back foot JJ hadn't quite cleared the Safety yet, #12 had to do a kinda half re-cock and threw that thing on a rope FLAT FOOTED. That was really, really impressive, I rewound it a bunch of times and made the wife watch it until she agreed how impressive it was. That guy's just flat out BALLIN'.


aussiepacker's picture

Dude just went back and watched the game and it sounded heaps like "sell shit" made me laugh so hard.

?????'s picture

I tend to side with the no censorship crowd.

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