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NFL coaches skeptical on benefits of chip-generated game-day data

The data arrived weekly last season at each Authentic Ryan O'Reilly Youth Jersey NFL team's headquarters. Packed inside was every imaginable measure of a player's in-game movements: Speed on each play. Yards covered, both horizontally and vertically. Precise location of a receiver or a defensive back on the field. Generated by RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) chips embedded in players' shoulder pads, the information was powered by the league's Next-Gen stats program that sports analytics experts consider nothing short of game-altering in terms of how we understand football. And what did the teams do with the numbers last season -- the first year these advanced figures were made available to them? "Nothing," Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn said, with a laugh and a shrug. "I'll be honest," said Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter. "I didn't look at that data during the season." "All that stuff is good to have," Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "But it's on film, too, and the film don't lie." The NFL's relationship with analytics remains a matter of competitive semantics. Every team uses data on some level, and while a few individuals admit it, no one embraces it. Game-day player tracking has long been expected to revolutionize evaluation (as well as planning and strategy for games), but most coaches ignored the debut dump of 2016. It will be available again Pierre-Luc Duboi Youth Jersey this season, perhaps soon supplemented by data gathered from chips embedded in the football itself. No one, however, has convinced coaches that poring over these statistics can help them win games. "With that stuff, it's kind of spotty," Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We don't have enough background yet to kind of make sense of it, how it's helping us at all." Interviews with nearly half the NFL's head coaches during the past year yielded similar answers. Carroll was one of the few who could recall a specific piece of information he gleaned from the data: Receiver Tyler Lockett outran everyone else on the field at a speed that was not close to matching his previously recorded high. For the most part, though, coaches believed crunching the numbers was redundant to their weekly film study. "I can see if he was fast enough," New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said. "I don't need to see [in numbers] how fast he was." It is early, however, to draw final conclusions on how chip-generated player data can affect the game. Some players have ideas, as it turns out. So does Dean Oliver, a pioneer of sports analytics and the current vice president of the data/analytics giant TruMedia. And sometimes it takes a few years for football people to embrace a new tool, as you can see below. Despite some early reservations, nearly every NFL team now uses some level of player tracking to monitor exertion in practice and help prevent injuries. Coaches who once planned practices and individual workloads by feel now have a more precise set of information that helps them determine how long and how hard to go. GPS chips inserted in shoulder pads record how many miles a player has run, how close he has come to hitting his maximum speed and other data points. Combined, they tell a coach how hard the player has worked, and indicate whether he's approaching a point where he is more susceptible to injury. Coaches use the numbers to guide practice length and intensity, as well as decide when to give individual players time off. All in all, the process that takes some of the guesswork out of health management. "The awareness of workloads and the wear and tear on players has been helpful," Carroll said. "It's allowed us to communicate with players on a better playing field, and they know we can tell better how they're feeling." The trend surfaced in the NFL less than five years ago, and is now embraced without much debate across the league. Payton Joe Pavelski Authentic Jersey considers it the true and best football-related advantage of chip technology. "Our benefit is player-injury related," he said. "The league's benefit is production on game day. So, everyone has a different goal with it in mind. With us, it's training and reducing injury." Payton was referring to the NFL's decision to supply Next-Gen game day data to television broadcasts. In theory, viewer experience could be enhanced by data-culled explanations for what takes place on the field. How did DeSean Jackson catch up to that Jameis Winston pass? (By increasing his speed from 16 miles per hour to 18, for example.) How many yards toward the sideline did LeSean McCoy run before turning up field? (Perhaps 12 yards sideways to gain nine yards downfield.) Payton and other coaches suspect the NFL means to implement its game-day data for commercial and entertainment use, rather than as a strategic supplement. Oliver, who has worked in the NBA as well as at ESPN, said: "Player tracking is a complete game-changer in how football can be understood." On a broadcast, Oliver said, the information can be used to support what otherwise seem to be subjective judgments. "You watch a game and they're telling you a player did well or did poorly," Oliver said. "Well, why? Take an offensive lineman. Is he holding his block longer? Is he getting downfield for his second block more frequently? You hear broadcasts and read articles about a player being good, but they don't explain what makes them good. The information in this data can do that. It can get beyond where we are in terms of knowing the game." The question, of course, is whether the information can get beyond what coaches know about the game and how they plan for success. Companies such as TruMedia do not have access to the data but are planning for that day. To that end, Oliver said, much of the value could actually be

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