An NFL rule change this offseason allowed offensive coordinators more freedom to move around on game days, but that doesn't neccessarily mean the Redskins' Sean McVay will take advantage. Previously, the NFL only allowed coaches communicating directly with the quarterback through a headset to be on the field. In 2016, those coaches are allowed to be in the booth.
Last Thursday in a preseason loss to the Falcons, McVay tried calling plays from the booth and communicating with Kirk Cousins that way.
"I thought that he should try it in the preseason. If he liked it better, he could stay up there, otherwise he can come back down on the field," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said on Sunday.
A former offensive coordinatory in Cincinnati, Gruden has seen both sides of the debate between being on the field or up in the booth.
"The pros are he can kind of spread out, get comfortable and have his worksheets in front of him, really think about the next series. There’s a lot to that. He can see better – the coverage and all that stuff – upstairs," the coach explained. "The cons are he doesn’t get to talk to Kirk [Cousins] in person, in between series, settle the offense down if they need it, talk to me without the headsets if there’s some things we need to talk about. So, I think the negative will probably outweigh the positives as far as he’s concerned. I don’t care either way."
Communication went smoothly in Atlanta, but Cousins and the Redskins starters only played one drive.
"Because I wasn’t going back in for another series, I didn’t notice the off-the-field sideline interaction being as important so it wasn’t a true test, which is why I think it might be helpful to try it again for another game," Cousins said.
With just one year as a starter under his belt, the quarterback might appreciate being able to talk directly to McVay on the sideline, particularly in the regular season.
"I think it feels pretty similar while I’m on the field because Sean’s still able to communicate in nearly the same way. When I’m on the sidelines, it would be very different obviously," he said. "Sean used to be sitting right next to me on the bench and now being up in the booth he would have to call me on the phone. That’s the difference."
Gruden said he expects McVay to remain on the sidelines to call plays. A young coach that has already generated some rumors of a possible head coaching job in his future, it might make most sense to stay on the field and absorb all of the aspects that go into coaching, not just looking at play sheets and calling the action upstairs. Before becoming a head coach in Washington, Gruden said he preferred the field to the coaches booth.
"I always like to be on the field. I like to be with the guys," Gruden said. "Some coordinators like to be upstairs. They like to be away and have their thoughts. It’s more calm. But I like the chaos on the field where I can calm everybody down and be in the middle of it."