Posted by Rich Miller - email
INDIANAPOLIS (WFIE) - How vital is it for a quarterback and center to be in sync to orchestrate an NFL offense?
"I think it's extremely important, each one of them knows the other's limitations and strengths, but there is a huge trust factor involved in it as well," says Indianapolis Colts head coach JIM CALDWELL. "To see those two guys work together is a work of art."
Indianapolis Colts quarterback PEYTON MANNING and center JEFF SATURDAY have started 157 games together. This Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Manning and Saturday will surpass Buffalo's JIM KELLY and KENT HULL (157) for the most games started by a quarterback-center combination since the 1970 merger.
"The chemistry between those two is a must for a quarterback to be successful," says Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. "I was blessed because I had Kent Hull for more than 90 percent of the snaps that I took in the NFL."
Manning, who has won the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award an unprecedented four times, says he has a great amount of gratitude for the job Saturday has done through the years.
"I'll always be indebted to what Jeff has done for me, just protecting me as a quarterback," says Manning. "I feel very comfortable with him right in front of me. Every time I make an audible, Jeff kind of has his own audibles after that. He makes those calls and then he has to go block a 320-pound defensive lineman. So I have never taken him for granted. I stay real close to him."
Kelly says the quarterback has to have a certain trust level to rely on a center to make the proper adjustments and line calls at the line of scrimmage.
"We would go up to the line and Kent would turn to me and say, 'Get out of it,'" says Kelly. "He knew based on the alignment of the nose tackle whether it was a 3-4 or a 4-3. He always knew if the play was going to work by their initial alignment when we'd get up there. I wouldn't even ask any questions or wait to look."
When the quarterback and center are in sync, says Baltimore Ravens center MATT BIRK, it makes the entire offense run effectively.
"It just runs smoother when the quarterback and the center are on the same page," says Birk, who is in his 13th NFL season. "I think the quarterback can play faster and that allows all the receivers to play faster as well. Things are just crisp and it just kind of raises everybody's level of play."