When you are on the road, it is difficult for a quarterback to verbally call for the snap. What do teams do in that situation?
You probably have heard analysts talk about the silent count. The offense determines the timing of the snap through a series of nonverbal signals. There are typically a number of players involved.
Let’s take a look at an example from the Jets’ road win in Buffalo from 2018.
In this clip you will see Sam Darnold raise his right leg. Left guard Spencer Long is looking back for the leg raise. Once he sees it, he taps center Jonotthan Harrison, who then knows to snap the ball. (Froze the video for a bit just to allow you to see Long tapping Harrison, which would be easy to miss otherwise).
Doesn’t this make it easy for the defense? It seems simple. When they are playing the Jets, all they have to do is look for Darnold’s leg raise and Long’s tap. The defenders can then time the snap and get a jump start firing into the backfield.
To prevent that from happening, the offense has to mix things up and have more than one way of executing the silent count.
Here you see the Jets do tjust hat. Darnold raises his leg, and Long taps Harrison again. But the Jets don’t snap the ball. It’s the second Darnold leg raise and Long tap that brings on the snap.
Now defenders can’t just fire into the backfield when they see the leg raise and tap. For all they know the ball won’t be snapped until the second sequence, and they will be committing a penalty if they are overly aggressive.