Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Dec 2005

NFL Matchup Explains X's and O's to a T

Here's an interesting behind-the-scenes look at NFL Matchup, arguably the best show on ESPN. Well, except for anything featuring Mario Lopez. (free registration/bugmenot required)

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 20 Dec 2005

28 comments, Last at 22 Dec 2005, 3:32am by sweatervest


by Scott C (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 6:00pm

Reminds me again how much I hate the close frames they use on TV. I wish I could watch games like Jaws and Company do. During one pass last night, I was thinking "Favre still has that cannon of an arm, wow" because you can't see where he's throwing it. A second later the camera reveals he threw it straight to Deion Sanders.

by Theo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 6:16pm

I play football myself and watching the NFL with the goal to learn, is sometimes somewhat 'frustrating'.
I never see the safeties pre-snap, because they always want to show those most interesting 10 yards behind the halfback.

by brasilbear (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 6:21pm

I think the league is missing a great marketing opportunity by not making game films available to the public. Think of the excitement that bbs/forums would generate by disecting and breaking down game film.

Even if they released the film after the season, fans would still go wild, I know that I would.

Sites like this one would blow up and multiply all over the internet, generating publicity and excitement.

Oh well, we can always dream.

by MJK (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 6:31pm

One reason why I feel bad for cornerbacks is the point this article talks about near the end. Anytime a reciever that the CB is "covering" catches a long pass, almost everyone (including most football announcers) will talk about how the CB "blew it", when half the time what happened is a safety or LB was out of position and left the CB exposed.

This became especially clear to me watching the Patriots the last few years. Cornerbacks came and went, but the Pats secondary held up until one of their two starting safeties, Wilson or Harrison, came out and was replaced by someone who didn't know the system as well. Happened in both the 03 and the 04 Superbowl, and all year this year.

by CoreyG (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 6:41pm

oh man, I would love to have that film and that database. Even with a widescreen HDTV, I rarely get to see the entire field during broadcasts. I doubt we'd ever see any of this stuff made available to the public though

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 7:03pm

Another angle I like is the "Closeup on the QB's face" angle. Without that, how would we ever know that QBs actually look at the defense before the snap of the ball?

That's almost as good as the camera, behind the kicking team on a field goal attempt, pointing at a dark background. At least you can follow the flight of the ball from the high end-zone camera.

Oh yes, and you also have the inexplicable shot of the relative-in-the-stands that completely replaces the formation before the snap; the sideline reporter's interview that takes 10 minutes instead of 2; the graphic of the "Player of the Game Except For the Final 5 Minutes" (college version) or the Horse Trailer That Would Not Die (pro version) ... you get the idea.

by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 7:07pm

Who made the joke about, in a perfect world, there would be a channel for MNF From Another Camera Angle?

by dave whorton (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 7:11pm

i 3rd the nfl putting up the coaches tape for sale.i wonder what happens to the tape when the season is over? also i wonder who is doing the taping the nfl or nfl films.{i'm referring to the coaches tape}

by brasilbear (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 7:24pm

Thinking about it some more, its not like one team has better video angles than any other right? They all get the same film. What secrets are they protecting by not releasing film. Even film from a few seasons ago.

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 7:48pm

I'd be very curious to know how much fans would be willing to pay for access to that database. For me personally, it's probably better that it's not available, as my work and home life would suffer immeasurably.

by Dick Riffle (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 8:02pm

What about having access to all the camera feeds during a game, streaming directly to your computer, so that you could produce your own show?

Man that would be sweet.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 8:17pm

If they're not going to let the coach tapes out, then why don't they at least have more shows like Matchup, say, on the NFL Network? (Or do they and I just don't know about them - my cable company had dropped the NFL Network do to a lack of demand.)

by Reinhard (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 8:21pm

They already have all the video, and Im sure its all digital. A single DVD could probably hold an entire season's worth of tape for a single team. Weeks 1-8 on one side, 9-16 on the other. Special postseason DVD's, coaches camera as an extra. Cheap to make, easy to market (you know where the fans live, right? They congregate in a stadium every week!) At $40 it would be a bargain compared to.. well, five beers. Yeah, why not?

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 8:49pm

I stand by my prediction that it's only a matter of time before the technology and recognition of demand converge in such a way to allow a satellite package and/or broadband subscription to patch together the angles you like, with the commentary you like [or none], and pull up real-time stats packages sorted to your liking that doesn't eat up a third of the screen.

Three years max.

by Matt (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 9:19pm

When is this show on again?

by Some Dude (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 10:53pm

Pick the most ungodly hour of the day imaginable. NFL Matchup is probably on.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 11:23pm

One more here who would love to watch all the film...

Then again... to make it useful you'd have to watch a play from multiple angles over and over again... so it would be hard to get a general feel for whole teams.

by Purds (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2005 - 11:30pm

Two comments:

1) NFL Matchup is on at 11 am in my house -- TiVo-ed from that morning. Get TiVo!

2) I do hope they begin to have choice in viewing. I know this might not be popular, but I personally would love to be able to watch NFL games with G-rated commercials on a network's cable chanel (CNBC, etc.). As is, I'm embarassed watching some commercials with my young daughters (5 & 8) in the room. Ti-Vo strikes again -- fastforward quickly!

by sweatervest (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 1:37am

"I personally would love to be able to watch NFL games with G-rated commercials on a network’s cable chanel (CNBC, etc.). As is, I’m embarassed watching some commercials with my young daughters"

Commercials are bad for your daughters but grown men smashing into eachother as hard and fast as they can and then celebrating a "good hit" is fine? I love football but it's one of the most absurdly violent things on television.

by big_adventure (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 5:13am

19 -

But it holds not a candle to the awsome violence of the last-generation Saturday morning cartoons that most of us grew up with. I have no idea about the current generation's weekly fodder, but Bugs and the Coyote took and gave hits that would permanently cross Jerimiah Trotter's eyes and make Roy "Horse Collar" Williams poop out his spleen.

And they did it all without pads! Man, those guys were TOUGH.


by Theo (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 8:41am

@ Matthew Furtek:
It wouldn't need many camera angles.
Just the endzone-to-endzone and I could all the coverages at D and routes by offense.

by MCS (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 10:48am

#20 Sean, " I have no idea about the current generation’s weekly fodder. . ."

From what I've seen, it's much more violent. Imagine comparing Doom (Halo, whatever) to Donkey Kong.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 11:08am

Oh yes, and you also have the inexplicable shot of the relative-in-the-stands that completely replaces the formation before the snap;

Great. You've just brought to the forefront blinding images of Brenda Warner and (gasp) Bubby Brister's Mom. Man, it took me 9 years to bury that in the deepest recesses.

by azibuck (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 11:56am

Re: #19, You gotta be kidding me sweatervest. Sporting violence has no comparison to "street" violence (and likewise to Looney Toons style cartoon violence).

I don't want to go all "modern-day gladiator" on you, but yeah, blocking and tackling are OK with my 5-year-old. I teach him what penalties are.

But some of those movie trailers with the gun violence, and the absurd soft-porn FOX programming that is promoted during games is inappropriate at best.

by giving him the business (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 1:41pm

Our day will come. Soccer broadcasts in Europe already allow the viewer to choose the camera angle they want to see. It's only a matter of time before the technology catches on here. Now if we could only get the commish to place a limit on TV timeouts...

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 3:16pm

What's the target audience for the majority of Fox's programming and what's their target audience for the NFL?

True, while the announcers may be on a fifth grade level, their audience is the 18-35 single male demographic.

by Dan (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 5:51pm

re: #25

All networks or just one?

I can't wait for that option. The sideline view pisses me off. DTV seems like a ripoff without multiple viewpoints. That's it, I'm taking my ball and going home.

by sweatervest (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2005 - 3:32am

"But it holds not a candle to the awsome violence of the last-generation Saturday morning cartoons that most of us grew up with."

Comparing things that completely fictional animated characters, or actors, pretend to do to things that actual humans actually do to each other while being cheered on by thousands at the stadium is kind of absurd.
Cartoons and movies can be explained to children by the difference between fantasy and reality. However football violence is actual reality. I've watched grown men become crippled on live television in a football game. I've watched people pretend to kill eachother in shows and movies. The actual living human being crippled is far more viscerally haunting, sad, and disturbing.