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NFL experiencing continued issues with sideline belt packs; Giants head coach Joe Judge hardly alone

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Giants coach Joe Judge openly complained recently about issues with game day communication, and while the issues his team was having in that instance came from user error of the sideline belt packs coaches wear, team and league sources said there have been numerous instances of issues with this new system and something the NFL continues to troubleshoot.

The league is using a different model for coach-to-coach and official-to-official communication this season, and it has not been without its issues. In many cases there have been difficulties within some coaching staffs to adapting to the new system, which has prompted significant issues on game day due to “user-error,” sources said. That has led the league to send specialists to work with the Giants in particular on multiple instances to help train that staff, sources said, but the issues are not endemic to them or MetLife Stadium.

Several coaching sources said the new game day belt packs have antennas that attach to frequencies or wireless locations that seem to short out or fail to stay connected, which disrupts their ability to communicate with their staff. “This is pretty widespread,” said one NFL source who has discussed the matter with several head coaches. “It’s not just a Joe Judge thing.” Another coaching source said: “The new belt packs are an issue.”

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The communication issues can occur from official-to-official as well, as referees speak to the league office for replay reviews, and the transition to this new system has not been seamless. An NFL spokesperson said that the league has had to “troubleshoot” in some instances, but noted that has always been the case and said that the NFL has not had to alter a team’s ability to communicate on the sideline for competitive balance reasons.

Some league sources suggested that the kinks this season have been more widespread than in the past, with there still being plenty of communication issues to resolve as coaches and the league adjust to the new technology.

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