Aug 10, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur (left) is congratulated by Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz (right) after the preseason game at Ford Field. Cleveland defeated Detroit 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE

Lions leap into the digital age with revolutionary playbooks

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King shared a story with his readers yesterday about the Detroit Lions that local Lions beat writers have grazed over recently, but have failed to provide additional details ever since the story has surfaced.

The Lions coaching staff are now sending out gameplans, playbooks and, in the near future, videos, to its players on tablets—specifically on Apple iPads.

The following quote from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column explains why the Lions are switching to digital playbooks, how the teams plans to maintain the privacy of its gameplans and how the team expects to use the new technology as a teaching tool…

“The day of the dumb football player is over,” says Jim Schwartz, and he’s about to show me why.

In his office Friday, a few hours before the preseason opener, Schwartz listed the reasons the Lions — and they’re hardly alone; many teams in the league have gone to the iPad for gameplans and playbooks — have gone to tablet form instead of the tree-killing paper way of life.

But this says it all: It used to be that when the Lions would have a correction to make in a game plan, they’d fix the page or pages, print them out fresh for every one of the players on the roster and for all the coaches … and the secretaries would have to go through every game plan, remove the bad page for the good one, then put it all back together again, in each individual player’s or coach’s binder. Now coaches can make corrections up to the last minute before a team meeting and send the corrections to the iPads of every player and coach, and the fix would be made. When those late corrections would have to be made, the joke around the office was, “Well, gotta go kill another tree.” And each week, the secretaries would spend significant time shredding all the old game plans every week.

What’s amazing, and the part I didn’t know, is the security of it. We’ve all heard stories about players who lost playbooks and got fined. Now there’s a double edge of security for the iPads, if one is lost. First, each unit is password-protected, Second, Schwartz or the program administrator at the Lions can erase anything the club wants to scrub remotely. So, every Monday night this year, after the Lions have reviewed the tape from Sunday’s game, the game plan for that week’s game will be erased from everyone’s iPad. By late Tuesday night or early Wednesday, the new game plan will be sent to every tablet, and another week begins.

To prevent any funny business by the players or coaches, the tablets are not set up to print, copy or email anything on the iPad.

“It’s a lot more secure, a lot more green, and a lot more portable,” Schwartz said. “I’d like to say we’re doing it because of conservation, but the truth is it’s more about the ease of operation than anything else.”

The Lions are in the home stretch of building in video on the tablets — it should be in place for the start of the regular season. When that happens, players will be able to look at a play in that week’s game plan and see the complete history of it. They’ll have the ability to look at video of every time they’d run a particular pass play that season, for instance.

“It’s funny,” Schwartz said. “In a couple of years, we’ll all laugh at how we did it the first year with the iPad, because it’s bound to get more advanced. But right now, it’s pretty cool.”

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Tags: Detroit Lions NFC North NFL Peter King

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