INDIANAPOLIS – Bears coaches once grew frustrated trying to understand what Jay Cutler was seeing when he’d thrown a particular interception. It was, one coach said privately, as if the quarterback was looking at some sort of alternate reality.
Now the coaches will be able to see what their quarterbacks and even some other players were seeing, not in actual games but at least in practices and a form of virtual reality.
The path to that information is in new technology coming available from California-based STRIVR Labs, creators of a virtual reality system that has attracted the interest of the Bears and various other teams, with applications in the NFL Scouting Combine and elsewhere.
A player looks out at a field through a pair of oversized goggles that project his view-field onto a nearby monitor. Within the goggles is a video of an actual play without being in that play.
“It’s pretty cool,” Bears GM Ryan Pace told CSNChicago.com. “Some people think it just applies to the quarterbacks but safeties can wear them, linebackers can wear them.
“Where I think value would be is also with backup quarterbacks, who don’t get a lot of reps and that you’re trying to develop. The first-team quarterback usually gets all the reps but we’re trying to develop that younger quarterback. We can replicate and simulate even better.”
STRIVR reportedly has agreements in place with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints. Pace himself hasn’t tried the system but at the Senior Bowl, player personnel director Josh Lucas tried the apparatus on.
“You can turn around and see the whole field and know where somebody’s looking,” Pace said. “Some of the kinks still need to get worked out, like some of the player-tracking devices, but it’s just normal growing pains. It’s good.”