Playbook breaches among overrated stories

June, 10, 2012
6/10/12
6:30
PM ET

NFC West teams do not face the Denver Broncos this season, but I could not resist one of the funnier stories from the weekend.

D.J. Williams probably faces a team fine for tweeting images from the Broncos' digital playbook. He should be embarrassed.

But to suggest Williams has put the Broncos at a strategic disadvantage would be going too far. Players switch teams every offseason. The detailed knowledge they bring with them has some value, but probably less than one might imagine. Versions of entire playbooks have shown up online without anyone seeming to care much.

Let's consider Williams and the Broncos for the sake of discussion. They face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1. The Steelers' coaches, having studied the Broncos in detail before their playoff matchup in January, know much more about Denver's defense than the formation adjustments Williams revealed in a screenshot. They might even know more about the Broncos' defense than Williams knows about it.

I doubt Arizona Cardinals coaches are worrying about the information Deuce Lutui, someone with access to Ken Whisenhunt's playbook since 2007, is taking with him to division-rival Seattle. Likewise, I doubt the San Francisco 49ers are sweating over the knowledge their former guard, Adam Snyder, is taking with him to division-rival Arizona.

Having an opponent's playbook would be nice, but it wouldn't tell an opponent anything about the game plan for a certain week, or even what calls a team might put in place for a given situation. Video study reveals what teams actually do, making it much more valuable.

In this case, Williams revealed a single page featuring six alignments. Any of the defensive players leaving Denver this offseason -- Mario Haggan, Jonathan Wilhite, Derrick Harvey and Brodrick Bunkley departed as unrestricted free agents -- could reveal much more at little risk to the Broncos.

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