FanDuel - WFBC

November 07, 2011

The Footage the NFL Won't Show You: Wall Street Journal: "Every play during an NFL game is filmed from multiple angles in high definition. There are cameras hovering over the field, cameras lashed to the goalposts and cameras pointed at the coaches, who have to cover their mouths to call plays. But for all the footage available, and despite the $4 billion or so the NFL makes every year by selling its broadcast rights, there's some footage the league keeps hidden. If you ask the league to see the footage that was taken from on high to show the entire field and what all 22 players did on every play, the response will be emphatic. 'NO ONE gets that' ..."

posted by rcade to football at 09:56 AM - 11 comments

I'm sure that I'm not the only person for whom the grand scheme of play-calling only really clicked after playing Madden.

posted by etagloh at 11:15 AM on November 07

What's interesting is that as a coach, your playcalling isn't much different than what you do in Madden. You have a handful of "Bread and Butter" plays with a few plays mixed in to take advantage of the defensive adjustments to those plays.

Although those plays change week to week to take advantage of certain matchups, the average NFL offense is run in the space of 30-40 plays. You may call the same run play 7-8 times in a game. Defense is simpler than that.

posted by LostInDaJungle at 12:04 PM on November 07

At the other end of the aperture, kick returners, receivers, and running backs have become very adept at watching the in-stadium jumbo screens while they're breaking off long runs - first, to see how close the pursuit is without having to look back, and then to make sure they're cutting an appropriately stylish figure as they cross the goal line.

posted by beaverboard at 12:08 PM on November 07

This is the main reason why football in the stadium is better than on tv. On tv, you get a replay of the last play. You have no information on the personnel changes. You generally get random shots of fans, coaches, and cheerleaders instead. I would love to have a broadcast of football for football fans instead of the casual fan.

posted by bperk at 12:17 PM on November 07

"If you ask the league to see the footage that was taken from on high to show the entire field and what all 22 players did on every play, the response will be emphatic. 'NO ONE gets that' ...""

O RLY?

Three plays from the same game picked at random from my NFL Rewind account.

All-22 plays generally start with the stick-figures-from-space view and then switch to a view that doesn't show everyone, but does show the specific clash between offensive and defensive lines, Quarterback positioning in the pocket and allows a better idea of what read progression the QB used if it was a pass.

This lets you look at line matchups which are poorly covered by broadcast television unless someone is either being eaten alive by or completely nullifying a glamour defender.

Watching All-22 tape has reminded me somewhat of going to a live Formula 1 event. In F1, the TV is nice but it in no way conveys the straight line speed and especially the change of direction of the cars. The All-22 has absolutely wowed me for how quickly even the most mundane of Safeties and Linebackers react to a play.

Now if you want to heavily stress the words "every play" in his article, then fair enough, but there are a significant number of plays for all teams in which the All-22 film is available.

On that note specifically, the NFL canvassed its subscribers before this season to ask them if they would be interested in a service that provides the All-22 for every play of every game.

Of course, they also wanted to know how much you would be willing to pay for it.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:00 PM on November 07

The story acknowledges that "the NFL makes a handful of plays from the All 22 available on its web site for a fee."

My guess is that the NFL will drop all objections to sharing this video when there's big money to be made in sharing it, despite Charlie Casserly's wimpy fears.

posted by rcade at 01:17 PM on November 07

A "handful" isn't really fair though, unless you have very large hands.

The Seattle-Cleveland game that set the sport of football back a thousand years had 19 All-22 plays available. The average seems to be somewhere into the 20s. With 13-16 games a week that's around 300 plays a week.

Plays range from scoring plays, to penalties to the mundane - one of the All 22 for the Detroit-SF game is a one yard Frank Gore run.

Now if you're interested in seeing the All-22 of every off-tackle run that lost yards on first down, then you're currently out of luck. But I'd wager that of the websites mentioned in the piece you might have one or two people who genuinely want to pay to see every All-22 from every game. However, I could see Football Outsiders snapping it up the second it's available.

The "whether they would pay up to $100" read a little disingenuously too. Sure, $100 was the top number in the selection, but does anyone tick the top number in a "how much would you pay for this" survey? If the NFL had put ONE MILLION DOLLARS! at the top would he suggest that might be the final price?

For my own part I ticked $15-20. Less than I'd actually be willing to pay, but don't tell the NFL that.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:37 PM on November 07

At the other end of the aperture, kick returners, receivers, and running backs have become very adept at watching the in-stadium jumbo screens while they're breaking off long runs

I remember seeing that perhaps 20-odd years ago when watching major athletics competitions, where the leading runners could glance up at the top bend and see how far people were behind them, instead of looking over their shoulders and losing their rhythm.

On the broader point: this has been discussed here before, but there's really not much devoted to deep play analysis on the networks that cover the NFL: NFL Matchup makes a biggish thing of having access to All-22 footage, but it's aired in the wee small hours, and ESPN prefers showing X hours of the gobshitery that is Sunday NFL Countdown. You get the hint of a hint of it on Monday nights, but the format doesn't give Jaworski -- and even Gruden, though he's mostly a caricature -- to elaborate much on what they're seeing.

posted by etagloh at 02:15 PM on November 07

I'm disappointed with that too. You see sites like Zonal Marking breaking down the tactical structure of the much more free-form version of football, but finding tactical discussion, diagnosis and analysis of the NFL game in incredibly hard, even though the sport is much more suited to that sort of conversation.

There are some sites out there - a Packers-specific site whose name escapes me, Smart Football, which has repeated posts on things like route trees, cover concepts and how to defeat certain defences and then on Football Outsiders you can find Ben Muth working on Offensive Line analysis and review, but it's like a breadcrumb trail - a bit here, a bit there around the web, with no one delicious cake of geekery.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 02:25 PM on November 07

The NFL's Anatomy of a Play is pretty great.

posted by kirkaracha at 04:48 PM on November 08

CFL broadcaster TSN can show the ALL-24 view whenever they want

posted by tommytrump at 11:48 AM on November 24

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