For the handful of people who didn’t see the blockbuster smash hit The Martian last year, one of the best lines of the film came in the early scenes. In it Matt Damon, playing a stranded astronaut on Mars, realizes the only way to stay alive is by getting creative with the technology at his disposal. The phrase he gave was, “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.” It seems the Chicago Bears practice layout has taken on a similar mission.
GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox stated when the offseason started that their goal was simple. Do anything and everything possible to make the team competitive in 2017. If that meant changing the entire structure of their practices and rehab programs, so be it. One thing they decided to try? Throwing all sorts of high-tech gadgetry at the problems.
Chicago Bears practice tech gets a massive upgrade
Pace has been a good influence on Fox in at least one facet. He’s getting him to try new things. Everything from new draft evaluation techniques to player nutrition and conditioning has been explored. Now the franchise is moving further into the 21st century with all sorts of creative pieces of tech being added to their practice arsenal.
Adam Hoge of WGN provided notes on some of the fascinating additions they’ve made.
“For one, they finally got rid of the scissor lifts that were previously used to hoist up cameramen to film practice. Instead, robotic cameras have been installed on poles, with members of the video staff controlling them via video screens on ground-level. The upgraded system is not only safer, but also allows for more advanced video. Then, Wednesday, a giant video board was set up behind one of the end zones, replaying plays right after they happened. This allowed players to watch their reps while practice was going on, leading to quicker corrections.
The Bears have also started to use virtual reality, which is of great benefit to the quarterbacks, who can essentially go through their progressions in the classroom. With practice times limited by the collective bargaining agreement, virtual reality has become more popular among NFL teams.”
Every little bit helps
Truth be told those ideas sound like they can be quite useful. Instant feedback is helpful in almost any profession. Football players usually only get that benefit during games. Being able to have such access during practices too? There is no way that can have a negative impact on their overall progression. They no longer have to go just on coaches’ words. They can see it with their own eyes right after it happened.
As for the virtual reality, this might’ve been something that seemed ridiculous back in the 1990s. The technology was still in its infancy. The graphics and processing speed were nowhere near what they are today. At the right price this sort of VR software could go at similar speeds to the NFL, exactly what quarterbacks need to properly execute the position.
Of course these fancy upgrades don’t guarantee the Bears a championship. At the same time, there is no such thing as too many advantages in the NFL. Even if this provides just an extra 1% increase in the teams’ overall function, then it was worth it.