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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Mike Zimmer: Any Idiot With A Video Tablet Can Do My Job

Illustration for article titled Mike Zimmer: Any Idiot With A Video Tablet Can Do My Job
Photo: Mitchell Leff (Getty)

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert has a fun story today about NFL coaches’ continued and collective refusal to allow themselves the ability to consult live game footage on the sidelines. Why don’t they want what would seem to be a very helpful bit of technology at their disposal? Because it would make their jobs too easy.


NFL teams currently have access to tablets on the sideline, but those only show still images of the field to coaches and players—the same sorts of pictures you used to see quarterbacks scrutinizing as they flipped through three-ring folders in the olden days. During the last few offseasons, the NFL competition committee has proposed what seems like a very sensible rule change that would allow players and coaches to use those fancy tablets to look at moving images instead of still ones. That idea has been repeatedly shot down by the coaches themselves, and a few of them gave their reasons for doing so to Seifert.

The gist of the coaches’ beef with live video is that having access to it would make it too easy for bad coaches to make in-game adjustments. This doesn’t seem totally logical, given that it assumes bad coaches would automatically make better use of the technology than good coaches, and requires one to believe that good coaches currently possess some innate ability to divine game-changing information from a still image that bad coaches do not. But anyway, what we’re really here for is Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer just straight up playing himself:

“We come in on Monday morning and start watching the tape,” Zimmer said, “And you say, ‘Oh that’s what they were doing.’ Now, you wouldn’t. So I can do this at six minutes in the first quarter and say, ‘Oh here this is what they’re doing. Here’s how they blocked this.’ And I can coach my guys on what’s happening. Whereas in the past, you have to rely on your skills to figure it out.

“It takes coaching and all of the things out of this when you go and sit there and watch it. Anyone can do that. I can bring [anyone] in there [to watch video] and say, ‘The left guard is pulling, and they’re blocking down in a combination down on the linebacker.’ Anyone can figure that out [with video]. But that’s what we’re supposed to do as coaches.”

I’m looking forward to the NFL eventually allowing access to live game footage on the sidelines, so that I may become a Super Bowl winning coach.