Coaches at odds on impact of technology overload on NFL game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes too much technology may wind up hurting the NFL game.
Other coaches are more welcoming to even more hi-tech changes.
For the second straight year, the NFL will experiment in the preseason with allowing coaches and players to use Microsoft Surface tablets on the sidelines to view video replays during the game - instead of just still pictures - and utilize that information to adjust strategy.
The league discussed using the technology in the regular season, but the idea has been tabled until next offseason.
Rivera, for one, hopes it stays on the table - forever.
''I'm against it,'' said Rivera, the 2013 and 2015 NFL Coach of the Year. ''As coaches, we work Monday through Saturday preparing for Sunday's game. I work. I game plan. I put all of my thoughts together. I'm attacking you, I'm beating you. And then, all of a sudden, they give you a tablet where you get to watch the play, rewind the play and see what happens on the play where you can say, `Oh my gosh, that's what they're doing to us?' Now you can make an adjustment and change what you're doing and have success. I don't think that's right.''
Rivera, who expressed his concerns at a recent NFL competition committee meeting, said if the videos are allowed he ''might as well work 9 to 5'' rather than putting in extra time game planning.
Not every coach agrees with that line of thinking.
Gary Kubiak, whose Denver Broncos defeated Rivera's Panthers 24-10 in the Super Bowl, calls the videos a ''tremendous tool'' for coaches and players. He doesn't think coaches will gain an unfair advantage because they don't have much time during a game to radically change a game plan.
''They're always trying to do things to make the game better and make players better,'' Kubiak said. ''It's like anything else that we do, it's something new, and I think we had a little taste of it. Keep going and see how it works out.''
Atlanta coach Dan Quinn is also a proponent of the tablets.
''We have the technology to do it and really the players enjoy it, too,'' Quinn said. ''(The video) gives them a very good look at what happened as opposed to the pictures. I hope we get to it one day.''
Redskins coach Jay Gruden doesn't view having videos as a big deal compared to pictures.
''If everybody has it, then it's not an advantage,'' Gruden said. ''. ... It's not like you can put a whole new game plan together based on a video that you saw (in) 20 seconds. So it really has no bearing on how we coach or how we prepare a football game.''
Rivera might disagree.
He points to last year's Pro Bowl - where the NFL experimented with video on the tablets - and quarterback Drew Brees used the information gathered from the videos of a previous play to make an adjustment. He told receiver Antonio Brown the next time he called the play to stay in front of the defender rather than go behind him.
Two series later, Brees ran the same play and connected with Brown for a touchdown.
''Without the video I wouldn't have been able to see that and communicate it with him,'' Brees said at the time.
''I thought to myself, that's exactly why right there,'' Rivera said. ''Hey if you can't get in practice, if your coaches can't see it on the sideline, why should you get a tool to help you? People say, `Well, you get better football?' Well, do you really get better football?''
Rivera is admittedly old school, having played nine seasons with the Bears as a linebacker. Years later, as a former defensive coordinator in Chicago, he'd arrive at the team's facility at 6 a.m., grab a coffee and head to his office. He'd spend the next 18 hours coaching, preparing and game planning until heading home at midnight.
Then he'd get up and do the same thing the next day.
''To me it doesn't make sense,'' Rivera said. ''I'm supposed to know these things. If I'm not a good coach I should get my (butt) fired. I want to get beat because somebody out-prepared for me, to somebody who had answers to my questions.''
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he agrees with Rivera, saying he prefers pictures to videos. Dolphins coach Adam Gase said he likes the current ''chess match'' between coaches, and fears video might change that.
''When you have the still shots, you don't always know what is going on,'' Gase said. ''(I like) being able to go to the sideline and talk to your players, that's part of the game as far as who is giving you the right information, who is working hard enough that week to prepare yourself to where if somebody does something on the field, you either see it or somebody in the box sees it.
''To me, that's part of the challenge of being a coach. I love the fact that when you get players that are really smart and they understand it, and they can bring that information (they see on the field) to you. That gives you an advantage. When you start using the video tablets, it takes that out of it.''
AP Sports Writers Charles Odum, Josh Dubow, Steven Wine, Hank Kurz , and freelance writers Michael Kelly and Terry McCormack contributed to this report.
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