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.

35 responses to “Coaches not allowed to compare notes before preseason games

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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

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

  7. 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….

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.


  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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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