Play call sheets being shown up close on TV isn’t a big deal, Sean Payton says

In Week 6’s prime-time games, we got to know a little more about the play calls of the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys than they probably wanted everyone to see.

On Thursday night, Broncos coach Sean Payton was shown by Amazon Prime Video holding up his play card. It was easy to screenshot that and read it all.

Then ESPN did the same thing with McCarthy on Monday night during the Dallas Cowboys’ win.

Things will happen when you regularly hold your oversized restaurant menu of a play sheet up to your face on national television.

While it seems bad that a coach’s play sheet would be broadcast to the world (Bill Belichick had to have been taking notes, right?), Payton said on Thursday it’s really not that big of a deal. Other types of subterfuge that fans like to talk about is overblown too, he said.

“I saw it. I don’t worry about it,” Payton said, according to the Broncos’ transcript. “When everyone sent that to me, it was like—this game is so spontaneous and fast. The language teams can look at—everything is on tape.

“That idea of signing a practice squad player off the other team right before you play them. The only benefit that would be [is on the] health of the team and in-depth information regarding if guys are healthy. It’s hard to take that information, for instance, and then bring it in the division and look at it and say, ‘Here are the two-minute [calls].’ There are a ton of things we change. Each night we have a new—not audible, but a term we use that we might [change]. Trying to give a defensive player [a heads up], that guy is going to look at you like you’re nuts. He going to say, ‘I have to play.’ I don’t think much of it, but I saw it.”

Maybe Payton is being coy because it’s a little embarrassing to have half of your play sheet being a talking point on social media. But he’s probably correct in that things change constantly in the NFL and game plans change every week. Spending too much time trying to analyze plays from a sheet in Week 6 might be a waste by Week 7, much less later in the season.

Still, it was fun for internet sleuths to know that the Cowboys had “Jab 72 Duo Z-Slick” ready to call if they were backed up near their own end zone on Monday night. And somewhere, some coach is trying to get an edge from that knowledge that was not meant to be seen by everyone. He coaches in New England.

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton isn’t worried about his play sheet being broadcast on television. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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