Moorhead Must Remain in the Coaches’ Box

David Marsh Editorials

For the last two games, OC Joe Moorhead has called the game from the box rather than the sideline. This has corresponded with a significant change in Oregon’s passing offense, as the past two weeks have also come with the best two games for QB Anthony Brown. Brown still has a long way to go in terms of becoming a developed passer, and it is still highly unlikely he will ever be a distinguished passer at Oregon, but he is becoming a more well-rounded quarterback for Oregon this year.

To date, Moorhead has preferred to call plays from the sideline. That in itself is not inherently a problem, as not every offensive coordinator operates from the box. Nick Saban demands his coordinators to be on the sideline to call offensive plays instead of the box. It does make sense that if an OC can effectively call plays from the sideline, he should — because it gives him direct access to arguably the most important player on the field, the quarterback. It allows the OC to coach up the quarterback before he steps onto the field and right after he steps off.

However, it is not uncommon to see a quarterback talking to the coaching staff in the box after a series, whether that is by putting on a headset or, in Oregon’s case, picking up the red phone. For the OC to be an effective coordinator and quarterback coach, it does not require him on the sideline. It might actually be more effective for Moorhead to to be in the coaches’ box.

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Anthony Brown has played his two best games at Oregon with Moorhead in the box.

Brown has played only two games at Oregon in which he has thrown for more than 200 yards, and both have come with Moorhead in the booth. That can’t just be a coincidence. The offense is more in sync than it has been for the majority of the year, and the offensive line is really coming together. Additionally, the game plan against UCLA was probably the best since the Ohio State game.

Moorhead is able to diagnose what is happening concerning quarterback play in real-time far more accurately from the box than he can from the sideline. He is able to make adjustments faster and can determine the best course of action. Moorhead is really the best qualified to diagnose quarterback play problems, and he needs the information during the game, not during film review afterwards.

This Oregon staff is still learning how to work together even though, on paper, this staff has some strong individual resumes. If Moorhead is here for the long-haul then there may be a time he could and should return to the sideline, but for now he is better off in the box where he can call the game and get this offense rolling more consistently. Mario Cristobal doesn’t need Moorhead on the sideline; the two of them aren’t seen standing next to each other standing and scheming through the progression of plays. Cristobal is more often seen yelling at the refs and talking to players. When was the last time anyone saw Cristobal holding a laminated play-sheet on the sideline?

Having Moorhead on the sideline is simply a luxury that Oregon cannot afford, especially with only one loss on the year and the playoff still at stake.

David Marsh
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo From ABC Video

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