Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spygate Questions

I feel I've made a strong case for the limits of the impact of the Patriots signal taping, but seeing as the topic won't seem to die, let me leave five questions that those who think this is still a big deal and think that the Patriots gained a significant advantage through the taping of signals need to answer.

1- How much more effective (in terms of learning opponents signals) is taping and studying those signals when compared with in-game observation and note taking?

2- How often is the use of opponents signals actually utilized in game situations?

3- What are the odds that the same play calls would have been made with information obtained through conventional methods of studying defenses? What are the odds that the same play call would have been made based on pure luck?

4- How much credence would a play caller put into stolen signals?

5- How important a factor is execution relative to play calling?

It's not that you literally need to answer the questions, but you need to at least intellectually grapple with them before jumping to conclusions.

I'll chalk this up to a Madden (as in the video game) view of the football world. Maybe some of us can imagine playing Madden and how well we'd do if we knew the defense on the field. But real football isn't Madden and knowing your opponent's coverage doesn't do you a damn bit of good if your linemen can't block the man in front of them and your quarterback can't put the ball exactly where it's supposed to be.

Yes, I have no doubt the Patriots gained advantages through their signal stealing. But I do doubt those who are willing to blow the story into something bigger without even bothering to examine the implications of their statements.


Anonymous b.rose said...

A response to the "madden point of view":

All three of the people you're discussing this with have played football. I believe Mac played from when he was young til midway through H.S., pete played from midgets through H.S. and I played DB through H.S. and a year at UConn, where I actually had the advantage of learning how defensive calls really are made at a high level of football and how offenses try to call route combos to take advantage of coverages. Quite different than h.s. as you could imagine, which is where, I assume your first hand experience with football ends(doesn't mean you don't know football, just means you shouldn't stick us w/ the tag of understanding football through video games only). So I can feel where you're coming from with the madden perspective idea, but it doesn't hold much water when you're discussing it with three people who understand the difference between the sport and the video game.

12:01 PM  

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