Bill Belichick Says Sideline Tablets Were Problematic Due to Bad Wi-Fi Connection

Bill Belichick was less than thrilled about the performance of the NFL’s new sideline tablets on Thursday. Rafael Suanes/USA Today Sports

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick may have said recently that he doesn’t use the internet all that often, but it may become a necessary evil.

Where teams used to have binders of still pictures on the sideline during games, the NFL has new technology that allows teams to browse these pictures on a tablet.

Belichick seemed to like the ease of use for the tablets compared to carrying all the pictures around on sheets of paper. One problem: the tablets don’t always work exactly like they’re supposed to, and the Patriots had their equipment malfunction during their preseason game against the Washington Redskins.


“The tablets have the ability to hold all the pictures in one tablet so you can kind of scroll through them. It’s certainly much more concise and I would say the quality of the tablets is good, the clarity of the pictures and all that is good, better than what we had,” Belichick said on a conference call with the media on Friday. “The issues are those are wireless tablets down on the field, and so if the wireless — or Wi-Fi — isn’t connected or isn’t working or something happens, then you’ve got nothing. You’ve got zero. So that happened in our game, and it’s happened in other games from my understanding of talking to other people that have been involved.”

Belichick hinted that there may be a solution — the tablets in the press box do not work on wireless, so they can function even when the wireless connection is down. He also pointed out that he is not the only one who has experienced this problem.

“In the press box they’re good, on the field, they haven’t — to my knowledge, I don’t have a big sample here but with the people that I’ve talked to — there haven’t been a lot of instances where they’ve functioned for the entirety of the game,” Belichick said. “At some point, they were down and they came back. I think there are some plusses to them, I think there are some things that we need to get used to in terms of using the product. … It’s really no new information, it’s not like we’re getting a new picture or a new view or a new anything we haven’t seen before. I’d just say the way that it comes on the tablets and it’s all together and easier to access is the plus side of it, and I’d say so far, overall, being able to count on it being all connected and working right is an issue we’re working through.”


Belichick was able to get the league to pony up by adding five extra feet at the top of the field goal posts, and they may also have to pour a little extra cash into stronger wireless connections on the field during the games to make sure their equipment fuctions properly.

Suffice to say, it’s a good thing this didn’t happen to a Patriots opponent at Gillette Stadium. The national narrative would write itself.

Here’s more from Belichick:

On evaluating different lineup combinations in the preseason games as opposed to what he sees in practice: “We saw many of the players who didn’t play or didn’t play much last night take a very high percentage of the plays in practice that led up to the reps and the number of plays that other guys got in the game last night. And we also created a lot of situations for those guys — the guys that didn’t play last night. They had a lot of snaps at different situations in practice — on third down, red area, so forth and so on. That gave those guys an opportunity to work on those situations and those things, which they obviously didn’t get last night. So I think the combination of the whole body of work for the week is valuable and productive for our team, not just the game. And I certainly wouldn’t say the practices led up to the game. They really didn’t. In total, they might have partially led up to it, but the total value of the week was being able to see three days worth of different competitions, and different situations, which matched up different schemes, as opposed to just one day in the game which we don’t have any control over.”
On Jimmy Garoppolo’s practice performance not matching up with what we saw from him against the Redskins: “Part of practice, as we all know, is learning and improving and doing it better the next time. Particularly, the young players, just because they make a mistake doesn’t necessarily mean that those mistakes are going to continue to always be there. You’d like to think that some of them will be corrected and the second or next or future times those situations occur, then the reactions or execution will be better. I think we see that with pretty much every young player, including [Garoppolo]. So I think there were some things that he did well last night, there were some other things that he learned from, there were some situations that were similar to ones he’s had previously that he did well, and maybe learned from mistakes and earlier plays that weren’t as good. There were other things that came up that he made some of the same mistakes on that he’s made in the past, and that still need to be corrected, that are still on that list of things that, next time they happen, hopefully they’ll be better. But I don’t think that’s unusual, I think that’s pretty typical for most young players or most anybody that’s starting to do something either different or at a higher level for the first time. That’s where he is. Some positive, certainly a lot of things to correct, some improvement, and some other things that need to be improved.”


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