ITP Glossary: Silent Count

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From fire zone blitz to roll coverage, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Silent Count

A silent count is when snapping the ball is based on a movement from one of the interior lineman, such as a head bob or a tap on the center’s knee from a guard. Part of the cadence, teams use a silent count because of crowd noise. There are many different types of silent counts utilized by teams. When using the silent count, the cadence of the quarterback and the snap of the football will be based on visual cues, not auditory. Using an agreed-upon set of signals, the offense will make the play call using a type of sign language instead of verbal calls.

In this example the San Francisco 49ers execute a snap after the right guard bumps, or taps, the center, who bobs his head and snaps the ball in one quick, fluid motion:

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Now pay particular attention to New England Patriots’ center Bryan Stork’s helmet on this silent count snap against the Kansas City Chiefs:

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He puts his head down and then slowly picks it back up right before the snap. Tamba Hali reads this and gets a fantastic jump on the play. Some stills illustrate just how big a read Hali got. Here is Stork with his head down:StorkStill2

Here is when he picks his head back up. Notice how Hali is the only player on the field other than Stork moving:StorkStill3

Left tackle Nate Solder does not have a chance here; it is likely there is not a left tackle in the league who can block Hali when he has a jump like this. Cadence and communication are difficult in a loud, raucous environment like Arrowhead Stadium.

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Mark Schofield wrote this entry. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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