The NFL has yet to embrace (although it inevitably will) the full capacity of the Microsoft Surface tablet for regular-season games. For now, the device is used for photos and not video, which is the rough the equivalent of buying a sports car and never mashing on the gas.
In some preseason games, the video is turned on. The Patriots got a chance to use it during Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Saints.
“The first home preseason game for each team they use the video component of the Surface tablets, so since this was our first home game we used those last night,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Friday, via Tom Curran of CSN New England. “Coincidentally, as it works out, we’ll also use them in the Carolina game because that will be Carolina’s first home preseason game, too. So, we’ll actually get to use them twice.”
So what does the old-school coach think of the not-so-new-school technology?
“I’d say it’s probably like a lot of things that are new,” Belichick said. “The concept is good, when it works it’s good, when it doesn’t work then it doesn’t work.”
As Curran points out, it didn’t work during portions of the AFC title game in Denver. The NFL was careful not to blame the snafu on the multiple-hundred-million-dollar sponsor who provides the conspicuous blue devices. (If the game had been played in New England, it’s pretty easy to figure out who would have been blamed.)
That’s one of the very real challenges arising from use of in-game video on the Surface tablets. Once teams adjust to having the ability to study formations and tendencies on the fly, they’ll be forced to immediately adjust to not having it when something goes wrong.
And whenever something goes wrong in any stadium other than Gillette Stadium, people will shrug. Whenever something goes wrong in Foxboro, it’ll be time to break out the hashtag and the -gate.