||HEADLINE NEWS - News
Wednesday - 12/6/2000
Technology has transformed the way coaches and players prepare for games
By Dennis Tuttle
NFL Insider for NFL.com
When the Baltimore Ravens signed Shannon Sharpe and Ben Coates before this season, it took head coach Brian Billick about three nanoseconds to find the perfect play to maximize the two outstanding tight ends. "I asked the computer, 'Steve Jordan, where are you and where'd you get all those catches?'" Billick said of the former Minnesota Vikings tight end, who caught 498 passes in 13 seasons. From more than 8,000 plays that Billick has stored in his computer database during 22 years of coaching came the perfect formation - a basic "drive route" that sends one tight end on a short pattern, another long, and attracts enough defenders to clear out a hole for a another receiver to maneuver in between. The beauty of Billick's research was the ease with which it was completed.
No dusty old playbooks. No film projectors. And certainly no more than a few minutes of time.
"It's all a matter of competitive edge," said Billick, one of a growing number of NFL coaches (including the 49ers' Steve Mariucci and the Raiders' Jon Gruden) who utilize computers to map out game plans, practice
drills, and basic instruction.
Almost every team uses a laptop to compile databases, and all teams are equipped with Avid, the cutting-edge digital film system that allows coaches to copy video of all their opponent's third-and-goal situations on
a disk and hand it to a player to study on his laptop. Today's coaches need all the high-tech help they can get. Players frequently change teams in the era of free agency,