The New England Patriots -- like many teams in the NFL -- experimented for the first time with mobile tablets on the sidelines during Thursday’s preseason game against Washington. Coach Bill Belichick likes the compact accessibility of photos in a game that a tablet can provide.
“The tablets have the ability to hold all the pictures in the one tablet,” Belichick told reporters Friday. “You can scroll through them, certainly much more concise.”
“I’d say the quality of the tablets is good. The clarity of the pictures and all that is good. Better than what we had.”
Traditionally, NFL teams used photo printers on the sidelines to produce snapshots of plays and formations. Coaches and players could then draw on the pictures to analyze them.
“It’s not like we are getting a new picture or a new view or a new anything we haven’t seen before,” Belichick said about the differences between the paper copies and tablets. “It’s just the way it comes in on the tablets -- all put together, easier to access – probably the plus side of it.”
While the use of tablets provides coaches and players with a simple, organized system of managing in-game pictures, the method is far from foolproof. The tablets -- which run on a Wi-Fi network -- lost connection during the Patriots’ game.
“The issues are those are wireless tablets down on the field and so if the wireless or the Wi-Fi isn’t connected or something happens, then you have nothing -- you have zero,” Belichick said.
The connectivity issues were not exclusive to the Patriots’ sideline. Other teams throughout the league have run into problems with tablets.
“That happened in our game and it has happened in other games, from my understanding of talking to other people that have been involved there, too,” Belichick said.
Belichick said the Patriots use the same tablets in the press box and like using them up there. But tablets used in the press box do not have the same connectivity issues like the ones on the field.
“But the consistency -- or lack of -- and dependability of it based on the connections or whatever the technical aspects of it are makes it a little bit of an issue as to the dependability of the product,” Belichick said.
While the Patriots’ experience with tablets has not been entirely smooth, Belichick says the tablets are a good experience for everyone on the team. Though with anything new, there are always obstacles to overcome.