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Buccaneers introduce tablets to NFL sidelines

Lovie Smith and company are embracing technology, once again turning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into tech pioneers in the NFL.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are switching to Microsoft Surface tablets for their game-day, sideline sheets, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal (h/t JoeBucsFan). That makes the Buccaneers once again one of the first teams to introduce a new technology, after being the first team to use iPads to replace physical playbooks in 2011.

Amusingly, the Bucs actually removed their use of iPads as playbooks under Greg Schiano, who preferred unwieldy bundles of paper instead. All the while, the rest of the NFL was switching to tablets as their main vector for distributing playbooks. It's not entirely clear whether the Bucs are re-adopting iPads (or other tablets) for their playbooks, but that seems likely given the fact that the Chicago Bears were using them under Lovie Smith, too.

I can see a lot of different uses for tablets on the sidelines: you could immediately call up footage to show players what happened and analyse plays, rather than having to rely on those printed-out All-22 photos. You could also automatically tag each play with down, distance and game situation, which would facilitate in-game analysis of opponent play choices. Coaches could annotate plays as they happen to help with immediate and later analysis. Finally, they could use tablets to perform risk analysis on whether or not to go for it on fourth down, or whether or not to call a timeout.

The only downside: holding a tablet in front of your mouth while you're signalling in plays looks a little silly.