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How would tapes from Spygate work? An analysis

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by ivanvamp, May 17, 2008.

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  1. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp In the Starting Line-Up

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    I posted this in the alt.sports.football.pro.ne-patriots group:
    ---
    Once again watching Belichick's interview here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Hyg9BhqESxU

    It got me thinking. Exactly *how* would the Patriots use the tapes,
    and what kind of edge could they gain? Let's start with the premise
    that the Patriots did *not* use the tapes for the games in which they
    were taping. That's been the contention all along by Belichick, and
    even Matt Walsh, who appears to have a major axe to grind against
    Belichick and the Pats. That was the conclusion of Goodell as well,
    who interviewed more than 50 people about this.

    So that means that the tapes were used as part of the "mosaic", as
    Belichick put it, the package of information used to prepare for a
    future game. What else might go into such a package?

    - Legal videotapes
    - NFL approved film
    - Advance scouts
    - Statistical breakdown of team's tendencies in every situation (they
    have *reams* of info on each team in this regard)
    - Inside information from players who used to be on your next
    opponent's team
    - Coach-to-coach conversation (yes, probably some of this goes
    on...."Hey Mike, this is Bill. We're playing the Chargers this week
    and we know you'd like us to beat them...anything I should watch out
    for?")
    - Scouting out the opponents' signals yourself

    So that's a TON of information on each team, on each coach (head coach
    or coordinator).

    Here's how it appears that the Pats would use the tape. They video
    the opponent's coaches and edit the tape to line up with different
    angles of the same play. This way, they can try to match the signals
    with exact defensive setup. But that really only helps if you know
    their tendencies, because teams likely change signals routinely. But
    they may be able to pick up on a pattern more easily with video.

    But let's say they didn't have the illegal video. BB has said plainly
    (and other coaches, like Shanahan, have said the same thing) that
    without the video, they still watch and chart opponents' signals.
    Without video, you'd still have legal NFL game film, and you'd still
    have all the rest of the stuff I listed above. But instead of the
    video, you'd have someone speaking into a voice recorder and typing
    into their laptop or writing on their notepad what signals are being
    used on each play. They would then take that information, line it up
    with the legal film they have of the game, and *still* be able to
    decipher what each signal meant. For example, if I was a scout, I
    could jot this down:

    3rd and 2, NYJ 35, 11:05, 2nd qtr - right hand to nose, left hand to
    belt, right arm up, 2 fingers extended, then arm moved into a "T"
    position

    Something like that. I wouldn't have to chart the play, because we
    would have other guys doing that. So I take my descriptions, and, so
    long as I'm consistent in my description (and I'd eventually have my
    own shorthand), we line them up with the actual plays and the legal
    game film. And there's enough shots of their coaches shown on network
    TV and other game film for me to say, "Yeah, that "T" motion right
    there...that's what I mean by this notation." That kind of thing.
    And, of course, the more I do it, and the more familiar I get with the
    coaches, the easier it is for me to describe what they're doing.
    There are professional people in the military who are adept at this
    sort of thing, and in baseball, they're *continually* changing signs,
    from game to game sometimes, because a trained person really can steal
    signals rather easily.

    So you end up with the same thing. Now, this is more labor intensive,
    and it's a little harder, but it's the same exact principle.
    Obviously, you can't really do this if you're going to use the
    information *for that game*, but we've established the premise that
    that's not what the Pats used it for anyway. So for advanced scouting
    purposes, you have this process going on.

    All taping does, then, is make this process a little more streamlined
    and easier to do visually. And it allows for an ongoing library of
    material. So is it helpful? Absolutely, or they wouldn't do it.
    It's easier for them to do this than it is to do it the old-fashioned
    way, no question. And it's probably more efficient.

    So I think, when seen from this perspective, that the advantage is not
    really that great. It's there, of course, or, again, they wouldn't do
    it. But since people have been stealing signals successfully for eons
    without the use of videotape, the Pats, with their attention to
    detail, would still be wildly successful. The video simply allows
    them more effeciency and streamlining of the process.

    Was that worth doing, when they knew the risk of getting caught? I
    don't know. Obviously they felt so, or at least BB felt that what
    they were doing was within the boundaries, because he saw some gray
    area presented to him by the bylaw that speaks of using the video in
    the game itself, which they didn't do.
     
  2. Zeke_Mowatt

    Zeke_Mowatt Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    That was an insightful and interesting read, thank you very much for that!
     
  3. nelly57

    nelly57 On the Roster

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    The problem with the labor intensive approach is that it can be prone to human error when charting the plays on a note book.

    The best way I heard/read so far was speaking into a voice recorder. NFL network had Woodson and Faulk calling out the signals from some of Walsh's video tapes. The scout can do the same, call out on the recorder; the play clock, down, distance and signal. Also, they may need several scouts since they can have decoys, some of the tapes had three coaches doing the signaling before the play. Later that can be synchronized to the "legal" tape to decipher the signals.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  4. fgssand

    fgssand PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #17 Jersey

    Since it is "legal" to take still shots a group of two photograpers could easily take digital photo's of the signals and the scoreboard and easily enhance the descriptive shorthand or audio recording in order to gain a smooth flow. Then match that up with the all 22 films and end zone films that come their way.

    Very easy to do and then all the info could be compiled, kept and referred too just like any scouting information anytime desired.

    Once you accept that film was not used in a game...it is all simply about scouting information which can be obtained several ways - nothing more and nothing less.

    Is that information worthwhile?? For some yes and for some no...either way it is really only a small part of the "mosiac".
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  5. nelly57

    nelly57 On the Roster

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    Here's the NFL network segment of woodson and faulk calling out the signals. A scout can record audio or take short hand of the signals, even eisen was getting the hang of it. It's that simple, that's why I can buy BB's koolaid.


    http://www.nfl.com/videos?videoId=09000d5d80853207
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  6. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Here's audio of an interview with Don Shula on Thursday. He states that their is an advantage but he also goes on to say that if the Patriots didn't have this information they are still a great team without that information. Neither a scathing indictment nor a ringing endorsement. Interesting analysis from a former coach.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espnradio/player?context=podcast&id=3397817

    Depending on your point of view, both sides of this debate could use quotes to further their own agenda.
     
  7. hwc

    hwc In the Starting Line-Up

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    Let me throw out another wrinkle here.

    I remember when Belichick was using the Belistrator to show the plays where the Pats burned that idiot Steelers' DB who had been doing all the trash talking. On one TD pass, Belichick said that he couldn't tell from the game film whether the Steelers defense was supposed to be in this defense or that defense. Players were so FUBARd on their coverages that he couldn't tell what they were supposed to be doing.

    Is it possible that the Pats coaches use these signals to help them identify the defensive calls for the game film they are watching? So, for example, they would know whether the safety was supposed to bite on the underneatch crossing route or whether he just screwed up?
     
  8. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress In the Starting Line-Up

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    this article provides great insight from a scout's persepctive into what transpires with signals:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3394809

    As far as Don Shula goes, I never want to hear a word from that MFer again. I wouldn't pi$$ on him if he were on fire.
     
  9. Patriot_in_NY

    Patriot_in_NY Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Awesome article
     
  10. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp In the Starting Line-Up

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    Yeah, I discovered that article after writing my post. At least I was pretty on track with my analysis!
     
  11. 40yrpatsfan

    40yrpatsfan PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yes, you were.

    The bottom line with the article as well as your comments is that they give a reason why the Pats did this: to save time during the week of prep. That's it.
     
  12. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Thanks for the link, nice find. Can't disagree about Shula, he's continuing to backpedal and talk in circles. He contradicts himself when he says the taping would provide an unfair competitive advantage, but then says the only way it would help would be if the other team didn't know they were being taped and they didn't change their signals, yet he adds that all teams change signals constantly because they all know they're being watched. Later he laughs at the assertion that the Pats are good due to the video tapes, complimenting BB and Brady for being an unbelievable quarterback, pointing out all the accomplishments after week one showing that the Pats are a great team.
     
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