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CFL coaches can now communicate with quarterbacks mid-play

Mid-play communication has received mixed reviews from coaches but has improved passing statistics.

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The coach and quarterback dynamic will always play an integral role in how a football team will perform as a whole. To work at their best, it is imperative for the coach and quarterback to communicate well, and the Canadian Football League has begun implementing new technology that makes this communication feasible during game play.

The 2016 CFL season is in Week 6, but the league has implemented an immediate change allowing coaches to communicate with quarterbacks even while plays are happening.

Certain coaches apparently were not informed that the new technology was made available.

“I don’t know why they did it,” Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson toldThe Calgary Herald “It was an executive decision that I didn’t even know about until the year had already started. It certainly wasn’t something that was discussed.”

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Regardless of communication, the new technology should give coaches a lot more options. Basically, quarterbacks will wear a headset that is linked to a coach’s or offensive coordinator’s voice, enabling them to hear what they think is best to do on the field, even mid-play. If coaches choose to yell in a quarterback’s ear the best options based on what they see, they can do so with this new communication system.

“In theory, they can. We don’t feel like it’s the best thing to say, ‘Go deep,’ or ‘Take the flat,’” Dickenson said. “The game’s going so fast and, I think, it might be easier from the booth to see stuff, what pops and what doesn’t pop, but I don’t yell into his ear.”

For Dickenson, it seems this communication channel is less important than player-coach trust.

“I think coaches, in that case, would be trying to be more important than they are. Just stay out of the way,” he said. “You need to coach your quarterback well enough that he sees what he sees and he trusts his eyes and he throws it.”

Although Dickenson believes play calling can sustain itself without this headset, four weeks of using the channel have shown improvements to quarterback play. When using this communication system, points per game on offense increased from 44.5 to 46.9 while the league’s average passer rating improved from 92.3 to 104.1.

These improvements could very well be a coincidence, but the CFL is mainly concerned about making sure the option is available.

“The changes were made to ensure the communications channel was available as soon as possible after a play ends,” a league spokesperson said in a statement. “As teams now rely heavily on the system, it was imperative we remove anything that may lead to a potential failure when it matters most. ”

Integrating this new system into the NFL would take some convincing, as they currently cut off communication between coaches and players well before the play begins. College football doesn’t allow coach-to-QB communication systems, so implementing this technology into an open platform may be the first steps to expanding as a whole.