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Head Coach Vs Offensive Coordinators – What’s The Difference?

The head coach is at the top of the hierarchy in football. Underneath the head coach is the offensive and defensive coordinators. While these positions may often get confused, each position has its own role.

What’s the difference between a head coach, offensive coordinators, and defensive coordinators? The head coach manages the game, while the offensive coordinator calls the offensive plays and the defensive coordinator calls the defensive plays.

In this article, we’re going to dive into each position and how they impact a football game.

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Head Coach In Football

Football coaches are the player and game managers of the football team.

The head football coach manages the team, preps players for the game, and has to know each player on both sides of the ball. The head coach also manages coaching duties on the sideline and decides on the in-game strategy.

The head coach also runs practices, scouts upcoming games and has to call in other coaches for gameday when there is an injury or setback within the organization. The head coach has to manage his team in any situation that comes their way.

Offensive Coordinator

The offensive coordinator is in charge of orchestrating the offense. They call the plays to the quarterback and the rest of the offense.

The main job of the offensive coordinator is to call plays for the offense based on what defense he sees on the field. The offensive coordinator has to make adjustments in-game based on how the defense is playing them.

Offensive coordinators will teach each player on the offense what exactly they are supposed to do, within each play. Each coordinator typically has the own systems they implement. Each system is unique to each specific team.

Coaches may favor a running offensive, a passing offense, or a mixture of both.

Defensive Coordinator

The defensive coordinator’s main job is to call plays for the defense, but they also have to watch film and scout upcoming games that they’ll be playing in.

The defensive coordinator has to make adjustments in-game based on how offenses are playing against their defense.

Similar to the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator will have their own schemes and philosophies.

Special Teams Coordinator

The special team’s coordinator is in charge of ensuring their team has the best possible special teams unit.

The special team’s coordinator is often a position coach that is tasked with coaching the special teams. In the NFL and professional leagues, they will have a dedicated special teams coach.

How Coaches Communicate With Eachother

Head coaches, offensive coordinators, and defensive coordinators talk to each other by using headsets. These headsets serve as communication between each coach on the sideline, as well as the coaches that are in the booth.

In the NFL, coaches are also able to talk to the quarterback and 1 defensive player. The player who has the earpiece in their helmet is signaled by the green dot on the back of the helmet.

Can Head Coaches Be The Offensive Coordinator?

It’s common for the head coach to also be the offensive and defensive coordinator. For example, the Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay is also the offensive coordinator.

He is in charge of managing the game, while also being the head coach.

While this may seem like a stressful job, it is common in the NFL, as well as at the high school level.

Teams whose head coach is also their offensive coordinator mean that the defensive coordinator must manage the game when their defense is on the field.

Practices during the week will also be different. Head coaches typically oversee both the offense and defense during the week. With a team whose head coach is the offensive coordinator, he will spend all of his time with the offense, leaving the defensive coordinator to coach separately.

Coaching Tree

Many organizations will have more than one head coach in charge of directing the team. In this situation, the head coach is usually a position that is held by multiple coaches.

The head coach’s job is to make sure that everyone who reports under him knows exactly what they’re supposed to do and execute it. If a coordinator leaves the organization, it places additional stress on the head coach, who must also call in new coaches for gameday.