Last year, Colts assistant head coach Rob Chudzinski worked from the booth upstairs as he assisted Chuck Pagano with various assignments. Midseason, however, he was thrust into the role of interim offensive coordinator when Pep Hamilton was fired. Despite his new role, however, he stayed in the box - a change in procedure for the Colts.
This offseason he had the interim tag removed from his title, but even as the full-time offensive coordinator he said today that he plans to continue calling games from the box like he’s done in the past.
This year there’s a new rule change that could have a significant impact on Chudzinski, however, as for the first time coaches in the box are allowed to communicate via headset with the quarterback on the field. Previously, only coaches on the sideline could communicate on the headset with the quarterback, meaning that last year Chud called the plays down to Clyde Christensen, who then relayed the calls to Andrew Luck. This year, Chud can call the plays in directly to Luck.
“Yeah well that’s new this season, going directly from up in the box – I’ll be up in the box still, that’s where I’ve called games from for a variety of reasons – but that’ll be new going directly to the quarterback,” Chud said today. “So we’ll work through that [the] first few preseason games and see how that goes. There’s some differences in terms of, always communication to the coach on the sideline, there’s communication from that coach to the quarterback, and being on the sideline there is an advantage in terms of if you can’t hear something, if it cuts out – which happens, things cut out at time and that’s [a] pretty regular type occurrence – you’re close enough where some of the times you can even yell from the sidelines what you want, or the quarterback can communicate, ‘hey, I didn’t hear that,’ those sorts of things. So we have to work through those and just see procedurally how that works from being up in the box. It’s new for everyone in the league this season. So I’m excited about it and looking forward to it and expect that we won’t have any issues with it.”
If there are issues with the headset cutting out, for instance, the Colts have a plan in place. Chud mentioned today that the quarterback knows plays that they have worked on as contingency plays in case he can’t hear the playcall, and that the coaches on the sidelines also know what to do and what plays to turn to in the event the headset cuts out.
But why does Chudzinski think it’s worth it to stay in the booth?
“I think you see the game better up there, as far as understanding what exactly they’re running and responding,” he explained. “The issues that come up, why a particular play doesn’t work, you have a better view of why that happens. It’s a little bit calmer environment in terms of, being up there you can lay things out and work through your gameplan in terms of that, as opposed to being down there and you’re in the middle of the rain, or in the middle of the elements, all those types of things. So those are the things, and that’s how I’ve always done it for however many years - I’ve been doing it for quite a while. So I’ve been used to it. It’s not a big deal if I had to do it on the sideline, I do it on the sideline. So we’re going to look through and see how this goes for the preseason.”
Though Chud said they’ll see how it goes this preseason and though he said that he’d be willing to work from the sideline, he clearly prefers staying in the box and this year it could be even easier to do so because of the new communication system. And Chud does raise good points: it certainly is easier to see the entire game unfold when you have an aerial view from the booth, and hopefully that will help the Colts’ offensive coordinator in his play calls this season.