One of the most obvious and fundamental aspects of a successful offense is protecting the football. It makes perfect sense, but a team needs to be able to hold onto the ball to be able to score and, by extension, to be able to win.
Last year, the Indianapolis Colts as a team fumbled 19 times and lost eleven of them, and one of the things they are working on this offseason is to cut down on those numbers in 2016. They are attempting to do so by using special footballs specifically designed to improve ball security.
The Associated Press’ Stephen Whyno, writing a story focusing on the Redskins, mentioned that the Colts are one of five NFL teams to use a beeping football developed by Northwood University (Division II) coach Tom Creguer. The Colts, Redskins, Cowboys, Ravens, and Buccaneers have already begun using the footballs, while the Chargers plan to begin using them in training camp. Furthermore, several college football teams (including Tennessee and Michigan State) use them. Whyno wrote that a number of NFL position coaches found out about them at this year’s Scouting Combine.
The idea behind the football is rather simple: it’s all focused on the five points of emphasis in ball security. If a player has pressure on all five areas, the football emits a beeping sound (Whyno writes it’s about 80 decibels) to let the player know they’re holding the ball correctly. So if a player doesn’t have the grip right, the ball won’t beep. It’s as simple as that, but it’s a great idea to help players make sure that they have great ball security.
This way, they can practice with the ball and work with others trying to strip the ball out, making sure that the ball continues beeping the whole time. If they work with the football long enough and make sure that their grip is correct, it should become routine and translate to games.
It remains to be seen whether this leads to success for the Colts - Creguer told Whyno that it reduced Northwood’s fumbles by 63% last year - but it’s definitely worth a try. Anything the Colts can do to try to better protect the football is certainly a valuable endeavor, and the idea behind the footballs is simple enough and makes enough sense that it hopefully should pay dividends this season.