PERSPECTIVE FATIGUE: Game Theory, Denver Broncos, and Coach Shanahan

Nine minutes to go in the game. Behind two touchdowns and extra points. Two quick scores and a stalwart defense were needed. What to do? The idea (ideology) is, use the run to set up the pass play and vice versa. But the run isn’t working overall. There was some sucess early.

It seemed to me that the quick scores would come from covering a lot of ground fast. That seemed to dictate long pass plays, ideology be damned. Go to the “desperation” plays. There should be such a set of plays in the book.

The stalwart defense? Tackled by bumping at the shoulder level, even though the runners legs are the motor that carries for the gain. They just did not shut the motor down. Also, the defensive players have not been taught the peripheral vision that goes with team play. Playing as a team, you are practiced in perceiving that you have help coming on either side toward the ball carrier, and you can anticipate which way each possible turn of the runner will go and each converging player guards his territory. Otherwise, it’s every man for himself in converging on the runner, who can easily dodge all three, bunched up defenders. I saw that time after time. No defensive team play.

The special teamers did the same, leaving their lanes in a free for all, not playing together as a team, but playing for individual honors. That individual play must be the primary positive reinforcement awarded by the coach-reciprocator at a film session, not the incidences of team play. Peripheral vision!

(Goofy Sidelight: I would like to see an endzone touchdown celebration that includes the fans, in this way. The touchdowner would go between the goalposts and pointedly touch the nose of the ball on the surface, as he raises one leg at the knee, and as the fans shout with one voice, “Touchdown!” I saw that in a Walt Disney cartoon fifty years ago where Goofy did as I described. The fans could put that yell together with their “In–com–plete!”)

So what did the offensive team do? Ran up the middle and got stuffed, as usual. Passed short in the flats. The clock-time was disappearing fast and finally gone. The team fell back on the stale idea of trying to set up the pass with the run, and the short pass to the out-of-bounds to stop the clock. No workee. Game over. Big hopes for post-season play gone.

There are four basic perspectives of any game that I learned from the game-theory sources I studied. The “patient”, “agent”, reciprocator”, and “referee” perspectives. The “patient” view is that of the fan. The “agent” is the player. The “reciprocator” is the coach, who is in charge of the strategy, interacting with the opponent strategists. The “referee” is the grand, impartial (omniscient?) perspective of the person or persons in charge of the game applying the rules. But let’s not forget the “critic”. Who would that be? The sports reporters, newspapers or media (television and radio, usually, former players and coaches.) I speak from the “patient” persepective of the frustrated fan, although I played football in the U.S. Army (quarterback, the USFA Travelers. “Agent” view–I played both ways, offense and defense. There was no platooning in those days. No face guards, either.).

From what I saw of that game, I have drawn this conclusion: it would be a good thing if the perspective of the coach, the reciprocator, could be made over. I BELIEVE THE COACH HAS “PERSPECTIVE FATIGUE”. The coach, I think, has gone stale and needs a change of perspective to that of the “patient”. Step back for one year in a leave of absence, a one year sabbatical, a period of rest and regeneration. That’s what is good for academicians. It ought to be good for valued coaches, especially if it is felt he has been appointed as coach for life.

He should watch from the television set in his home, or in some resort far away, during one pre-season period and one full season.

Published in: on December 18, 2007 at 1:36 pm  Comments (1)  

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One Comment

  1. Very well done.

    Denver Broncos News.

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