Sanchez: Chip Helps With Pre-Snap Details

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Texans

Mark Sanchez told a story last week about what Chip Kelly communicated to him before one specific play against the Texans.

“I think at one point Chip said something in the helmet last week like, ‘We’re running such and such play, so you’re reading 99 [J.J. Watt],” Sanchez said with a laugh. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, thanks.’ I just looked over like, ‘Yeah I know.’ So you just get it snapped, cross your fingers and hope for the best.”

Sanchez has spent the last eight months or so getting used to his new surroundings. Eating, sleeping and living in a new place. A faster practice routine. Different teammates. His role as a backup.

But on the field, now that Sanchez is the starter, he has to get used to a new voice in his helmet during games: Kelly’s.

Play-callers are allowed to talk to their quarterbacks from the time the play clock starts at 40 until it winds down to 15. Because the Eagles move at such a fast tempo, that means Kelly is able to communicate different types of information to the quarterback right before the ball is snapped.

“It’s such an uptempo pace that he’s talking to you pretty quick and you get a lot of air time because he’s calling the plays so quickly,” Sanchez said. “There’s still 30-plus seconds on the clock when he’s calling the play. So you never run into that situation where it hits 15, 18 seconds and it cuts out. It’s pretty rare that it cuts out and you haven’t received the information you need. So he gets that play in quick and it’s nice.”

When Kelly was mic’d up earlier this year, he could be heard yelling to Nick Foles that the Giants were in zone coverage.

But last year, when we asked Kelly what he tells his quarterbacks, he downplayed his role in diagnosing the defense.

“In the headset, it’s really just calling the play,” Kelly said last September. “The defense isn’t set up yet so I’m not gonna predict what I think they’re gonna have. I’m calling the play and we’re getting lined up so it’s not, ‘Hey Mike [Vick]… watch out for Cover-1, Cover-2, Cover-man, they may blitz, they may not.’ I can’t warn him about everything. I think if you get into that, they’re not deployed, they haven’t lined up yet.”

Perhaps Kelly didn’t want to make it seem like he was doing the quarterback’s job for him, because Sanchez suggested that the head coach is very helpful in terms of defensive coverages and personnel.

“It gives you a chance to diagnose what you’re seeing, what you’re facing,” Sanchez said. “He tries to give us as much information as he can in the headset. If he sees something, if somebody goes down or if there’s a backup cornerback in or they bring in some personnel that we planned for, didn’t plan for, he’ll let you know on the headset. And that’s what’s great about him as a coordinator. He sees all that stuff.”

The Panthers are not a heavy blitzing team, but when Sanchez makes his first start since 2012 tonight, he’ll be getting assistance from his head coach through his helmet.