The Green Bay Packers finished the regular season 15-1 and are poised for another Super Bowl run. Their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is a favorite to win the league's Most Valuable Player award, and their receivers find more holes in opposing defenses than they do in a block of Swiss cheese. So why? Certainly skill plays a factor. But now some players are touting a secret weapon: their iPads and a fancy app.
Yes, that's right. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains:
Like some other position groups, the Packers receivers watch film through an application on their personal iPad. [Wide Receiver Donald] Driver can spend time with his three kids and study film all at once.[...]
Technology blended harmoniously with strategy. Coach Mike McCarthy has built this offense on abusing mismatches. He zigzags receivers across every possible contour of a defense and has arguably the best triggerman in the game. Green Bay went 15-1, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers likely will win most valuable player honors. But for this system to work, receivers must all be on the same page.
They don't necessarily need pre-snap audibles. They recognize coverages and - through football telepathy - adjust. This app fosters such synergy. It carefully categorizes film of each opponent. All receivers study what coverages a defense plays on first down, second down and third down.
And the receivers can't say enough good things about it.
"It makes it easy, it makes it easy," Driver said. "It's more convenient for me so I don't have to force a DVD in or say to my wife, 'Hey, babe, can I put a DVD in so I can watch film?' and she leaves up to the bedroom. I kind of like that intimate time with my whole family. I'm still able to sit there with my iPad."
"You watch so much and watch the individual so much, you know his weaknesses," said James Jones, who caught 38 passes for 635 yards and seven touchdowns. "You know on certain routes you can do this to him and he can't cover that. From watching film, that's what we catch up on. We use some of that in our routes.
"You can say, 'OK, this guy, when he's in press coverage he likes to use his hands a lot. He likes to get his hands on you. And this guy, when he's in press coverage, he likes to mirror you and not put his hands on you.' It's 'OK, No. 29 is on me. He's going to put his hands on me. I have to be ready to knock his hands down. If I knock his hands down, he's in trouble.' "
"On the plane. At the hotel. Wherever you go, you're taking this iPad with you," Jones said. "Wherever you go, you have game film with you. Even if it's before the game and A-Rod says, 'Man, did you see this play? Did you see that play?' And we can say, 'What play? Let's look at it.' It's a lot easier."
Somewhere, Steve Jobs is smiling. And Packers fans are too.
But be careful not to give the product, instead of the those who use it, too much credit. Business Insider notes that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players were all given iPads this season, and they finished 4-12. Their coach was subsequently fired.