Digital video and football

Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King has an interesting entry in his Monday Morning Quarterback article this week on how digital video has changed the NFL.

“Two mouse clicks,” said Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz during a break in preparing to face Green Bay the other day, “and I have every two-point-conversion play the Packers have run since 2006, and I can watch them, one after the other. That’s how advanced our video systems are now. You’d be a fool not to use it for research.”

Schwartz prepped for Indianapolis two weeks ago by watching every red-zone snap of the Colts since the start of 2007 — 234 plays. He watched them in succession, without a break, just to see what habits the Colts had inside the 20. And last week, he looked at all 182 red-zone snaps of the Packers since the start of last season.

Some 25 years ago, teams would have had to splice film together to show that. Even 10 years ago, the computerization of video wasn’t the same as it is now. In the last four or five years, every team has been outfitted with similar video systems, which enables them to look at every commonality on tape within minutes — every third-and-eight-or-longer, for instance, that the opponent has run since the start of the 2006 season.

I could see something like “sports informatics” emerging as a very popular and lucrative field of study.

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