By Michael Marot
The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — When Jim Caldwell tunes into this weekend’s NFL games, he’ll be looking for more than his next opponent.
The Indianapolis Colts coach may find himself rewinding plays for another peek, getting an early jump on next week’s scouting report.
Thanks to high-definition TVs and DVR recording, Caldwell can go from casual weekend watcher to scouting report director in the blink of an eye and in the comfort of his own home.
Yes, technology has changed things in the football world and Caldwell intends to take full advantage of the first-round bye the Colts earned by winning their first 14 games.
“HDTV certainly gives you a pretty good vantage point. You can pick up a lot of little things and take note of the severity of injuries,” Caldwell said. “You can see how the entire thing kind of transpired, and with the advent of DVR or TiVo, you can run it back and look at it. Nowadays, it’s pretty phenomenal.”
To die-hard football fans, this is no revelation. They have been relying on the same tools since these devices came out.
But coaches? And players? They’re onboard, too. It seems to be a trend at the Colts complex.
Middle linebacker Gary Brackett, the defensive captain, may follow Caldwell’s lead this weekend. He’ll start by watching the Jets-Bengals game Saturday afternoon. Brackett also plans to watch Sunday’s game between Baltimore and New England. Indy, the AFC’s No. 1 seed, will face Cincinnati, New York or Baltimore in the divisional round of the playoffs next week.
Cincinnati is the only team Indy did not face in the regular season.
And then Brackett could download the games to his computer and start breaking things down, allowing him to do some homework before showing up for next week’s team meetings.
“You can see everything,” Brackett said. “It is almost like watching our film on a computer. What we watch is a little more educational because you can’t always see all the guys on TV all the time. But you get a pretty good idea of the basics before you come back (to the complex).”
San Diego coach Norv Turner, whose team has the AFC’s No. 2 seed and the conference’s other bye, will be doing prep work this weekend, too. But he’s looking for different details, such as sounds of the game.
“The thing I’ve gotten from watching TV games is sometimes before the game when you listen to broadcasters, or sometimes during the game they will have talked to the coaches and there’s something that will come out, a little thing you might get,” Turner said. “Then we always get the TV copy and when it’s something significant, different, or we haven’t played a team, we’ll get the quarterback’s cadence, you can get that usually off the TV copy.”
The advanced technology goes far beyond television.
Old school days of coaches drawing up plays on chalkboards, like the vintage Vince Lombardi clip diagramming the Packers sweep, has become a thing of the past.
“Now you take laptops and draw up plays and they show how they want us to run it,” Indy defensive lineman Raheem Brock said. “The play just runs on the computer. It makes it easier all the time.”
And this is likely just the start.
ESPN announced this week that it plans to start broadcasting live events in 3-D television this June, giving players and coaches perhaps even more detailed looks at plays.
But there’s one thing technology hasn’t changed.
Caldwell may be watching the AFC playoffs games by himself. Though the first-year coach said his wife is a big football fan, she may not be so interested to watch the same play replayed over and over.
“No,” Caldwell said with a smile when asked if she would help him break down tape. “But we also have several televisions in our house.”