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What makes an effective playcaller? "It's part feel and part understanding your players"


Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has had the opportunity of working under some excellent signal callers during the course of his coaching career.

At Michigan State, Shurmur worked under George Perles and Nick Saban, at Stanford it was Jack Elway, and with the Eagles it was Andy Reid. Then, it was his successful stint as the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator in 2009-2010 that led to his first head coaching job with the Browns, which he held during the 2011-2012 seasons.

Now, he serves as Chip Kelly's right hand man to bounce ideas off of, and with Kelly calling the shots, Shurmur has acted as a sponge. The two, along with the offensive staff, constantly bounce ideas off of each other in an effort to maximize the guys they've got on the field.

Asked what makes an effective playcaller during a recent Q&A featured on the Eagles' site, Shurmur drew on his experience with the coaches in his past. He noted that part of being an effective coordinator is just having a feel, the other is knowing your players and personnel.

“I think if you have really good players and you have plays that can be executed against more than one coverage or more than one front and then having a feel for when it’s the right time to call a special play or have a feel for, ‘OK, we’re running the ball with success, so a couple of more runs here’ or ‘We’ve run the ball a little bit, it’s time for a play action’ or maybe you get a feel that, ‘Hey, we can pass protect these guys and the quarterback is in a rhythm, let’s give him a play or two more where you can throw the ball.’"

"I think some of it is a feel. I think some of it is knowing what your players do well and then you are always doing what you can to try to move the ball and score points."

"If you keep those things in mind, you have a chance.” Shurmur added.

Read the whole Q&A, with more from Shurmur on working with Chip Kelly and their offensive staff, here.