FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ coaching staff does most of its film study on coaches tape or the All-22 shot by team video crews from the 50-yard line and end zone, but there’s still value in watching the game live.
The Patriots’ coaching staff isn’t just taking its bye weekend off. The coaches will watch this weekend’s wild-card round playoff games live on TV. The Patriots also will send scouts to Saturday’s Tennessee Titans-Kansas City Chiefs game and Sunday’s Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars matchup.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick went long Thursday when asked what he can take away from sitting down and watching this weekend’s games.
“We actually watch some TV tape. Some,” Belichick said. “More of the coaches tape, but the actual real-time that the TV covers it in is sometimes pretty relevant, especially situationally. Yeah, overall, TV scouting is limited, but I wouldn’t say it’s zero. It certainly gives you the flow of the game, and you don’t get the flow of the game on a coaches copy, especially if it’s broken into offense, defense, special teams, which is usually the way you watch it. Sometimes you watch just continuous plays, but usually, particularly at the beginning part of the week when you’re trying to learn as much about the team as you can, it’s easier to compartmentalize it and just look at certain sections, whether it’s offense, defense or maybe it’s first- and second-down, third-down, red-area, two-minute and try to separate those out so you can get a little clearer picture of what they do in those situations.
“So, sometimes if you just watch it continuously, I wouldn’t say it runs together, but it can, and you wind up looking at things that, ‘Well, yeah, they did this, but it was because of the situation. It’s not what they normally do, the situation kind of overrode it.’ So, but, the TV, watching the game live certainly gives you the flow of the game and, again, there’s certainly some real-time things that can happen in a game that will override the X’s and O’s part.”
The scout sent to a game isn’t just sitting back, eating popcorn and taking in the action either. He essentially can never take his eyes off the field.
“There are a lot of things the scouts look for,” Belichick said. “They have a checklist of probably 100 things. Some have applications, some they can say, ‘Well, it didn’t come up in the game. I couldn’t evaluate it, didn’t happen.’ All the things that they could see that would be helpful to any of the three coordinators, me, any operational things, any things that would be helpful to me. Again, there’s a long checklist of things they look for.
“The game itself can be broken down in a lot more detail by running plays back and forth and all that, but the live view gives you some things in between plays or where the camera isn’t focused, whether that’s live game camera or the coaches camera isn’t focused. Sometimes you can see things that are relevant that person at the live game can see.”
So, that’s the plan for the Patriots’ bye weekend. They’ll know who they’re playing by Sunday night, and then the real preparation starts for the divisional round of the playoffs.