Cowboys' coaches will be learning, too

SAN DIEGO -- A few years ago the Dallas Cowboys moved their voluminous playbooks to the iPad. In tonight’s preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers, they will use Microsoft Surface tablets during the game.

For years offensive and defensive coaches and players would look at printed photographs between series taken just before and just after the snap to study for adjustments or answers. Now the NFL is catching up to technology during games as well.

The coaches have just fiddled around with the tablet but their first action with it will be tonight. They plan on using the preseason to work through any glitches that may occur.

“The tablet that I saw was good,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The pictures looked good. One of the issues forever has been you have these pictures and sometimes in a book, sometimes just loose and you’re kind of rolling through them, you get rid of them, OK, you’re on to the next series. ‘Hey what they play that last series?’ And you want to go see that. This thing is all kinds of organized for you: Series one, the shot from the side just before the snap, just after the snap. The shot behind just after the snap, just before the snap. It’s all categorized. That’s the first series. Now it’s the second series, so you can refer back and all that. The challenge will be the technology of it. At least that was hard paper that you had. We’ll see how it responds. It’s nice to have preseason to go through it.”

Passing game coordinator Scott Linehan said one potential issue would be seeing the pictures clearly in the daylight.

“I think it’s pretty easy for a guy like me who’s not really all that adept at computers,” Linehan said. “If I can run an iPad I think I can run a tablet. That’s what I’m hoping.”

Garrett admitted his younger coaches are more technologically savvy than the older coaches, like 72-year-old tight ends coach Mike Pope.

“He still wants the chalk and the blackboard,” Garrett joked.