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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams unsure about using new defensive technology

    By Jim Thomas
    Monday, Sep. 01 2008
    During the preseason, linebacker Will Witherspoon used it. So did strong safety
    Corey Chavous. Even backup safety Eric Bassey and cornerback Tanard Davis
    who's no longer with the Rams got a crack at the new coach-to-defense
    communication system.

    But after tinkering with the new technology for four preseason games, defensive
    coordinator Jim Haslett isn't sure how the defense will use the system this

    "We really haven't decided yet which way we're going to go with it," Haslett
    said. "Right now, I would say I would talk to Will."

    But Haslett said he might also signal in plays by hand and have secondary coach
    Ron Milus use the coach-to-defense headset to talk to the secondary.

    The coach-to-defense system was voted in at the NFL owners meeting in March, in
    large part a response to the "Spygate" controversy in which the New England
    Patriots were found guilty of illegally taping opponents' sideline signals
    during games.

    It works just like the coach-to-quarterback system on offense. But there are a
    couple of twists. Before each game, each team must designate one primary
    defensive player and one backup to use the system. The primary defensive player
    will have a speaker in his helmet so that he can hear a coach from the sideline
    via a radio transmitter. (The player can't talk back; it's a one-way system.)

    The coach will call in the defensive play and can relay any other information
    to the defensive player. But with 15 seconds left on the play clock, the system
    automatically shuts off, just as it does with the quarterback on offense.

    "If they're not a real fast-paced team, it's easy to call the defense (on the
    new system)," Haslett said.

    But that's not always the case.

    "Half the teams on offense don't change personnel till about 20 seconds (remain
    on the play clock)," Haslett said.

    Which presents a problem because most defenses make their play call based on
    what the opposing offense has on the field personnel-wise: three wide
    receivers, four wide receivers, two tight ends, etc. So in the case of offenses
    that make late personnel changes, there simply won't be enough time to make the
    defensive call before the headset cuts off at 15 seconds.

    "I think they're going to have to make modifications to it after this year to
    make it work right," Haslett said.

    He'd like to see the cutoff point changed to 10 seconds. Even if that were the
    case, Haslett isn't sure whether his players like the system.

    "If I was playing linebacker, I don't know if I'd want somebody talking to me
    the whole time," Haslett said.

    For their part, Witherspoon and Chavous hardly gave the system rave reviews.

    "I'm kind of indifferent towards it right now," Witherspoon said.

    When asked how he liked using the system, Chavous replied: "It was absolutely
    of no consequence at all, really."

    The player designated as the primary defender will have a green sticker on the
    back of his helmet, indicating it is equipped with a speaker for
    coach-to-defense communications. But the player designated as the backup
    defender must begin with a regular helmet no sticker, no speaker.

    But what if the primary defender gets hurt and leaves the game? Or what if he
    gets hurt and re-enters the game later? Or what if, in this age of situational
    substitution, the primary defender isn't on the field for certain defensive

    Well, that's what the large, plastic black box on the sideline is for. It will
    contain two extra helmets:

    A rigged-up helmet (with green sticker and speaker) for the backup defender.
    (For circumstances when he is in the game receiving plays from the sideline.)

    A "plain" helmet (no sticker, no speaker) for the primary defender. (For
    circumstances when he might be in the game but the backup defender is still
    using the special helmet.)

    An NFL employee, equipped with clipboard and paper, will stand next to the
    black box for the entire game, making sure there are no helmet shenanigans. To
    ensure fair competition, the NFL does not want two players on the field at the
    same time with speakers in their helmets. The NFL employee will be the guy in
    the yellow shirt.

    Do not confuse him with the guy in the burgundy shirt. He's the guy in charge
    of keeping an eye on the K-balls, the special footballs for use by punters and
    kickers only.

    Only in the NFL, right?

  2. #2
    makersncoke's Avatar
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    Re: Rams unsure about using new defensive technology

    I'm not sure it matters who is being spoken to, as much as who is doing the speaking.

  3. #3
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams unsure about using new defensive technology

    I understand that it's new, but I have to imagine that this would greatly benefit the defense, as they don't have to send phony signals to the defense. I expect that after the season that there be a much higher regard for the system. But for now, I understand that the tried and true system is what's preferred.

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