What Does “Kill Kill” Mean In Football

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The term “Kill Kill’, often said by quarterbacks when they’re calling out they’re calling out their cadence. What does it mean and why do quarterbacks say it almost every play?

Why Do Quarterbacks Yell “Kill Kill” Before The Play

In the NFL, things can get complicated for the average fan. Unlike your typical high school or Pop Warner game, NFL play calls are a bit more complex.

The complexity has made it’s way into play-calling. Offensive coordinators will now call 2 plays in the huddle. The quarterback will then get to the line of scrimmage and determine which play should be run. A few variables that go into switching the play…

  • Defensive Front
  • Linebacker Alignment
  • Coverage
  • Blitzing Threat
  • Mismatch

The term “Kill Kill” refers to the quarterback checking to the second play. They will yell the word kill to tell the entire offense that the first play is no longer live, and that he’s switching it to the second play. It’s important for the quarterback to signal both physically and verbally to his teammates that he’s changing the play, or defensive players may be left unblocked.

Play Calls That Would Utilize Kill Kill

Black Right 50 Zebra Cobra Kill Yellow Left 59 Lion King

In our play call above, we’re calling the first play, using the word “kill” as a break point, then calling the second play. The quarterback will get into the huddle and call both of these plays. Every player must make the adjustment on the fly based on what play is being run.

This is why there’s no such thing as a “dumb football player”. Players must be able to not only memorize the first play as well as their assignment, they must be able to memorize the second play as well as their assignment in a moments notice.

In the NFL, players will often kill the play with 10-12 seconds left on the play clock. That is why the quarterback will yell kill, but he’ll also signal it by waving his hand back and forth around his neck. Time is of the essence when the quarterback makes the decision to kill the play.

Variations Of “Kill Kill”

Rams Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay is known for using “can” instead of “kill”. They have the same meaning, but the play call will be a bit different. Using the example above:

Black Right 50 Zebra Cobra Can Yellow Left 59 Lion King

The can just substitutes the “kill” call, within the play call. This is for teams who don’t want to use the “kill” they simply just say “can”. Here is example:

In the above clip, Sean McVay simply “cans” the play to switch to another play. Let’s break down the play call above…

  • Trip Right Tight (Formation)
  • YUC (Motion)
  • Pass 14 Wanda Man X Strike (Play Action Pass Concept
  • Can (Yelling “Kill” at the LOS will change the play)
  • 14 Wanda Man (Run Play)

What this does for play callers (Offensive Coordinators) is it allows the quarterback to put their offensive in the best position possible, to run an explosive play

Installing Kill Calls Into Your Offense

This concept is extremely tough to do. If you’re looking to install it into your offense, I would start by making kill calls, with the second call being the same formation, just a different play than what was called in the huddle.

For instance, if your formation is “West Right Tight”, make the second kill call a West Right Tight play as well, don’t flip the formation. This would be beneficial for players to start to grasp the system, as adding new formations could prove to be difficult in the beginning.

Also, be sure to factor in the play clock when installing the kill. If your quarterback takes anywhere from 5-10 seconds to read a defense, he may not get the kill call out in time. Kill calls need to be made immediately once the defense sets, for it to be effective.

Do you use Kill calls in your offense? Let us know in the comment section below how you teach it! We also would like to know the progression your quarterback & offensive players to learn the complete play calling system.

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