Dolphins Players And Coaches Embracing New iPad Technology; Other Notes

Posted Jun 20, 2012

For years the most dreaded words a football player in the NFL could hear were, “The coach wants to see you … and bring your playbook.” Now that last word has been changed to iPad.

The Miami Dolphins have joined the technology revolution by issuing an iPad3 to every one of their 90 players, allowing them to learn the plays in a much less cumbersome manner than before. Head Coach Joe Philbin doesn’t expect there to be much of a learning curve for his young team.

“Well I still have my notebook and pencil and big thick three ring binder, but with this generation of players it’s much easier for them to get used to things than it is for a guy like me,” he said. “Teaching wise it was the best thing to do. They’re still going to have notebooks to take notes and write things down.

“If you can make it easier for people and make it more convenient for people, they will take advantage of the learning that’s available to them. Plus, the film aspect is a whole different thing too. So now you have this (iPad) that has everything as opposed to just one thing with a static picture.”

So many of the players already have their own personal iPads, so they already were familiar with the technology and the benefits. Cornerback Sean Smith actually uses his own to take notes on, as he doesn’t want to risk the fine that comes with losing the one that was issued by the team.

But veterans like left guard Richie Incognito and quarterback David Garrard are still getting used to the change. They are among the players that came into the league knowing they were going to be handed a playbook the size of the New York City phone book.

“It’s a nice change from the old playbooks because they’re nice and neat and you really don’t have a big book to carry around,” said Incognito, who is entering his eighth season in the league. “They fit in a bag really nice and it’s a good deal. I’m still adapting to the new iPad but they’re really nice. It’s a lot better than carrying around a big, clunky playbook because we have all of our stuff in one spot.”

Garrard and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco are the two oldest players on the roster at 34, and while Garrard has his own iPhone and feels somewhat familiar with it he admits there is an adjustment period. That’s why he isn’t shy about relying on his kids to help him download some things onto the iPad.

Not only is Garrard adapting to the new technology, but he also is learning an entirely new offense from the one he ran in Jacksonville with the Jaguars his first 10 years in the NFL. He appreciates the benefits of having all of his learning tools in one place than perhaps some of the younger players.

“This is totally different than anything we have ever been used to in the past but that’s how this day and age is flowing,” Garrard said. “Everything is headed in that direction and it’s good that the league is trying to keep up with that kind of stuff. It makes it tremendously easier because we have everything right there at our disposal – our playbook, plays, game film, practice film and we’ve never had that before. We used to bring home CDs, disks, DVDs and that kind of stuff and now we have everything in one place.”

It wasn’t a given that all of the young players would be automatic fans of the switch to the iPad as some of them were taught by old school coaches in high school and college. Smith revealed that third-year cornerback Reshad Jones likes to write down his notes.

Fifth-year wide receiver Davone Bess honed his skills at the University of Hawaii under June Jones and grew accustomed to the big playbook and the need to write everything down. So even though he is just 26, the iPad is not necessarily natural to him.

“I’m struggling with it because I’m so used to the paper,” Bess said. “It’s just more convenient because you don’t have to carry your backpack full of papers now. Every day we were getting stacks and stacks of papers with the installs but now they just download them onto the iPad and it’s there. Technology has come a long way.”

Tell that to Philbin, who actually passed up a chance almost 30 years ago to enhance his knowledge of computers.

“I have some computer skill, but the fact of the matter is, and this is a true story, my last semester of college I was signed up for a computer class and this was in 1984,” Philbin said. “I was on track to graduate, but this class was at 8:00 in the morning, and I stayed out a little late the night before and I didn’t want to jeopardize my future so I switched into a debate class, which has served me well, at least in coaching. So it’s tougher for an old coach, but these guys are used to flipping through that stuff and pushing buttons and I think it will work fine.”

Just as long as they’re not asked to bring the iPad to his office.

DOLPHINS TIDBITS: With the arrival of rookie linebacker Josh Kaddu this week the team was able to conduct its first true full-squad workouts. Kaddu, the fifth-round draft pick out of Oregon, was finishing up his college classes and could not get back to South Florida until now. … Wide receiver Brian Hartline has been taking care of a personal matter and was not present for the previous OTA on June 11th or the first two days of this mini-camp. … Bess made the play of the day inside the practice bubble when he laid out for a one-handed catch of a 35-yard laser thrown by quarterback Matt Moore during the two-minute drill. … Ochocinco followed up his circus catch from Monday with a juggling grab that he managed to hold onto despite rolling over on his head. … Philbin was pleased with the energy on display and the competitiveness, but he was not too thrilled with the two skirmishes that took place – one between defensive end Ryan Baker and Incognito and the last between rookie linebacker Olivier Vernon and left tackle Jake Long. “I wasn’t very happy that we lost two players in a drill. Again, that can be a critical play in the game,” he said. “You have to be able to keep your poise and play. It’s great to be tough, it’s great to be physical but you can’t lose a player for 15 yards or loss of down. There was good competitiveness but you’ve got to be smart.”
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