Blake Williams may wear the headset these days, but he doesn't have the final say on the play call.
Gregg Williams didn't, either. It doesn't matter who's looking at the call sheet when Joe Schobert's on the field.
"You know what," linebackers coach Blake Williams said, "Gregg could call it, I could call it, (defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker) could call it in there and then Schobes is just going to completely change the play out there on the field anyways."
Schobert knows the Browns defensive scheme as well as his coaches, the opponent's offense as well as its quarterback. His teammates call him "Coach Schobe" because of his impressive acumen.
It's not a coincidence that Gregg Williams passed the play-calling responsibility to Blake the same week Schobert returned from injury. Blake said he and Schobert have always enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. Even without a mic in his helmet, he could probably align the defense the way the Williams family wants it.
"A lot of times, Schobert can probably call the play before we call the play," Blake said. "He knows what we have practiced."
Blake says Schobert's true brilliance lies in Schobert's ability to marry his book smarts with his athletic instincts. Most players who score high on the Wonderlic Test (Schobert scored a 36, the highest of any linebacker in his draft class) overthink when they're on the field, Blake said, a phenomenon he called "paralysis by analysis."
But Schobert's book-smart background combined with his decisiveness allows him to both master every alignment he will see, direct on Sundays and play with the speed necessary to play with the elite athletes who whirl around him.
For these reasons, Schobert's teammates recognize his value beyond his nickname. The Browns lost the game in which Schobert injured his hamstring this season and every game he missed in succession. When he's not the center of the defense, the players notice.
"I owe him like half of my check every week," defensive end Chris Smith said. "The way that he gets everybody lined up, knowing what the offense is going to do before they do it — he is a hell of a player. I think everybody appreciates him. When he is not on the field, you feel it."