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Coaches not allowed to compare notes before preseason games


As Saints broadcaster Jim Henderson tells it, the Saints blitzed the 49ers early and often in the preseason opener because San Fran coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t call New Orleans coach Sean Payton to compare notes before the game.

“When that didn’t occur, Sean just said to Gregg, ‘Let the dogs out,’” Henderson said.  “And they did.”

But Harbaugh was doing nothing wrong by not calling Payton.  In fact, Harbaugh was merely following the rules.

NFL rules prohibit coaches from making any agreements or arrangements before preseason games regarding issues like personnel and strategy.  The rule has been in place for years.  (That said, at least one league source said the NFL is emphasizing it more than ever this year.)

Of course, not every coach knows about the rule.  Earlier this month, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said that he planned to talk to Broncos coach John Fox before their respective teams met.

I’m going to talk to Coach Fox here in the next couple of days,” Garrett said on August 6.  “We’ll talk not only about that, but just what the overall approach is.  I’ve known him a long time; he was the defensive coordinator in New York when I played up there, so he’s a good friend.  I think everybody in the league will do something like that because everything has been so shortened and you need to be on the same page as to who is playing against who and what kind of stuff we’re using.  I think those conversations are important.”

Like plenty of other rules, this could be one that everyone breaks.  In Jim Harbaugh’s case, following the rule almost got his quarterbacks’ backs broken.

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35 Responses to “Coaches not allowed to compare notes before preseason games”
  1. kmurph1226 says: Aug 21, 2011 8:51 PM

    The NFL needs to stop control every single thing known to man.

  2. freedomispopular says: Aug 21, 2011 8:52 PM

    This is another one of the idiotic and unenforceable rules the NFL just needs to drop.

  3. peopletrains says: Aug 21, 2011 8:53 PM

    Dumb rule. They’re glorified practices and having your plans mesh with the other team only makes it safer. Chill out, NFL.

  4. everydayimfumbilin says: Aug 21, 2011 8:55 PM

    are we still on this? jesus

  5. FoozieGrooler says: Aug 21, 2011 8:55 PM

    whatever 🙄

  6. eaglesfan290 says: Aug 21, 2011 8:56 PM

    Well given that Harbaugh doesn’t know the “unofficial rules” maybe Sean Peyton could have been the bigger man and called him to tell him before he “Let the dogs out” way to Class up the NFL Peyton!

  7. beastofeden says: Aug 21, 2011 8:56 PM

    SAN FRANCISCO coach. Not San Fran. Do you say Pitt coach, or Oak coach, or Minn coach?

  8. phelbin says: Aug 21, 2011 8:57 PM

    It’s really too bad they don’t play again in the regular season. That would have been a great story line.

  9. bradwins says: Aug 21, 2011 9:08 PM

    Why would this be a rule? Makes no sense. It’s the preseason. The outcome doesn’t matter, so why shouldn’t coaches be able to coordinate their efforts in the way they feel will best prepare their teams for games that count.

  10. leftcoastnative says: Aug 21, 2011 9:15 PM

    Better protect your own players regardless of communication with an opposing coach. Bill Walsh was famous in the Joe Montana days for contacting opposing coaches about a no-blitz policy in pre-season games. However, when Joe left the game after a couple of series, the 49ers would blitz the opposition w/o regard for the so-called call off the dogs agreement. So much for the integrity of coaches!

  11. apooster says: Aug 21, 2011 9:30 PM

    What I don’t understand is why the hell didn’t Sean Payton just call Harbaugh? Is it really that hard?

  12. blackqbwhiterb says: Aug 21, 2011 9:37 PM

    Are they getting PAID to play football?….

  13. goldrush36 says: Aug 21, 2011 9:46 PM

    So Payton couldn’t pick up the phone then? Seems kind of like an odd story. Either Payton wanted to bait Harbaugh into breaking the rules, or he’s looking for an excuse for going full steam to get the chip off his shoulder for Seattle clubbing them in the playoffs. More power to him I suppose, but it doesn’t make them any more of a winner especially when blitzing over 25 times in a preseason game is pretty much unheard of. Oh and of course this is just preseason so Payton still didn’t prove anything

  14. mavajo says: Aug 21, 2011 9:47 PM

    Sean Payton is an ass. What a petty douche.

  15. patpatriotagain says: Aug 21, 2011 9:57 PM

    assumption, not fact. and if it’s true, payton should be fined. retslistion for following a (stupid) league rule?

  16. kom2k10 says: Aug 21, 2011 9:58 PM

    Yea, because NFL coaches comparing notes and knowing how the other coach is going to approach the game would COMPLETELY undermine the integrity of an NFL preseason game….

  17. danrooneyii says: Aug 21, 2011 9:59 PM


  18. theravenlives2 says: Aug 21, 2011 10:12 PM

    The NFL needs to stop control every single thing known to man.


    No, that would be the Federal government under Obama trying to “help” us!

  19. keakuamai says: Aug 21, 2011 10:12 PM

    What a bunch of hooey. Sean whining because Harbaugh didn’t call him and let the doge out? wow. Pathetic. Overall though all they did was do the 49ers a favor. They did the right thing on all counts, didn’t break the rules, took their lumps and then went about fixing their mistakes.

  20. mdd913 says: Aug 21, 2011 10:19 PM

    Sean Payton is an ass. What a petty douche.

    That’s “Super Bowl Champion” petty douche to you, sir.

  21. cdsaints says: Aug 21, 2011 10:29 PM

    They want to maintain the illusion of these games being a competition so that we, as the fans, get all worked up about them, watch them on TV (ratings) and buy tickets. They know that there are still twits out there who really care if their team “wins” a preseason game. Don’t get me wrong…after the football drought which occurs between March and August, I’m all too ready to watch my Saints, but please for the love of god let’s all try to remember what these games are! Anything the coaches can do to keep their players healthy for when it actually matters is a smart move. Coordinating withe other team included.

  22. jbniner says: Aug 21, 2011 10:31 PM

    Or alternatively, the Saints broadcaster was talking out of his ass.

  23. gfan8611 says: Aug 21, 2011 10:41 PM

    A league that is doing it’s best to make tackle football safer than a marshmallow fight has a rule that prohibits coaches from helping them achieve this goal. Genius!

  24. depotnator says: Aug 21, 2011 10:47 PM

    It’s prolly just a bunch of BS by a Saints broadcaster. How would he know about internal staff conversations. None of this came from the Saints organization.

  25. touchdownroddywhite says: Aug 21, 2011 10:50 PM

    This had nothing to do with phone calls. They knew it would be “easy pickin’s” and they tee’d off on them knowing that Harbaugh probably wouldn’t see it coming. They’re looking to be a defensive powerhouse again.

  26. mrcogburn says: Aug 21, 2011 11:34 PM

    Lee Harvey Payton was wrong AGAIN!

  27. damnskins703 says: Aug 22, 2011 12:45 AM

    Let me guess Goodell made this rule…..I wish they would let players, owners,coaches, and fans vote to get rid of this guy he is trying to ruin the NFL he has to go

  28. jebdamone says: Aug 22, 2011 1:37 AM

    stay classy as always saints. i don’t care how good they are…what a garbage organization.

  29. 1phd says: Aug 22, 2011 2:17 AM

    Thank you NFL. Now enforce it. I can see talking if it were a scrimmage or AFTER a game, but what’s the point before a game? Like I said before, it smacks of collusion and what if two teams have it in for a third team during the regular season and decide to talk about it? It opens a great big can of worms. Talking before the games is a bad idea, serves no purpose and I’m glad the NFL recognizes it.

  30. 504in860 says: Aug 22, 2011 2:36 AM

    eaglesfan290 says:
    Aug 21, 2011 8:56 PM
    Well given that Harbaugh doesn’t know the “unofficial rules” maybe Sean Peyton could have been the bigger man and called him to tell him before he “Let the dogs out” way to Class up the NFL Peyton!

    An Eagles fan talking about class.


  31. saintsfan1111 says: Aug 22, 2011 3:15 AM

    Kiss the ring!

  32. paperlions says: Aug 22, 2011 8:17 AM

    It’s like Tony LaRussa is running the NFL.

    This is just a PR-rule designed to give the league deniability when season ticket holders complain about being charged full price for glorified scrimmages.

  33. stataddict says: Aug 22, 2011 8:25 AM

    No one is explaining the real reason for the rule: Vegas.

  34. mdd913 says: Aug 22, 2011 9:54 AM

    stay classy as always saints. i don’t care how good they are…what a garbage organization.


    That’s “Superbowl Winning” garbage organization to you, sir.

  35. mdd913 says: Aug 22, 2011 10:03 AM

    An Eagles fan talking about class.



    A lot of people on here talking about “class” when all they can ever do is try to tear down other people’s accomplishments by posting on a message board. Because that’s “classy”, right?

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