I know this is a hypothetical and it ended up not mattering in the end. I'm also fairly certain Shanahan would have followed traditional NFL strategy, but I still wondered to myself why Collinsworth and Michaels treated as a given that the Redskins would have kicked on fourth down if it came to it. I believe an intelligent and logical coach (ie probably not any current NFL coach except Belichick) would have went for it on fourth down.
Think about it this way, you kick the field goal and you get a 6 point lead but you also need to kick off. Romo would probably need to get 70 yards to get a touchdown and win the game in 30 seconds. Not likely but certainly within the realm of possibility. What about if you go for it? First, obviously Dallas would need to stop the fourth down play. But what if they did? They would then get the ball back with 99 yards to go. They'd still have to go 70 yards just to tie the game. Assuming they did, they'd also have to make sure they made it out of bounds on the last play. Without any timeouts, this would be absolutely mandatory. Finally, they would need to win the game in overtime.
I'd argue that its actually easier to go 70 yards to score a touchdown than to make it into field goal range from 99 yards out with 30 seconds to go and no timeouts. At the very least, the two would have roughly the same probability. That would mean that the Redskins would have had to go for it, because going for it would have given them 3 distinct ways of winning a) score on 4th down b) Stop Dallas c) Win in OT, while kicking the field goal gave only one a) Stop Dallas.
I find it to be a fairly sad state of affairs that Collinsworth and Michaels didn't even acknowledge this possibility. Its also really sad that they are probably right that Shanahan would have kicked without a second thought. Its pretty simple math and logic.
I know its high school and not directly comparable to the NFL but it does taste of what could happen if the game is played the way the math geeks say it should be played.
The players have far more to lose by missing games.
The framework of this CBA will probably be the basis for the next one and the one after that etc. In other words, they are really negotiating what players will be paid for the next 20 years.
In essence, every lockout/strike situation is a game of chicken. Missing games is clearly bad for both sides but it will happen unless one side accepts an inferior situation. But how useful is it to actually win and get the right CBA for the next 20 years.
A typical owner will look at this and say "I could cave now and save a year's worth of revenues or I could holdout and get a CBA that will pay dividends for the next 19 years."
A typical player will look at this and say "I could cave now and save a year's salary or I could holdout and get a CBA that really won't benefit me personally all that much. My career is likely to be only a few years long. Losing a year would cost me a huge percentage of my lifetime earnings. Sure, "the players" would be getting benefits for the next 20 years if we hold out, but me personally....not really.
I'd also point out that sports owners are typically only part time. They have other real businesses. Losing the NFL revenue for a year is like losing a pinky. Unpleasant and uncomfortable but ultimately not a real problem. For a typical player who has no income or wealth outside of being a football star and only a couple years to maximize that revenue, losing a year would be a much more serious injury. I really don't see how the players don't ultimately blink first.
I'm going to try this one more time. I created another thread on this topic but I realize that my original post might not have been as clear as it should have been. It was my fault because I included too much math and made it confusing.
This is an important point and I think you'll see football in a whole new light if you get it. Similar situations pop up a lot and about 95% of the time the coach gets them wrong.
Dallas was down by 18 and on the 6 yard line with 12 minutes to play. Nearly all coaches would have kicked the field goal in that situation. Phillips went for it. The announcers couldn't contain themselves talking about how stupid he was. 15 points is two scores. 11 points is two scores. You should in no circumstances ever risk being down three scores when you could be down only two. The number of times you need to score from here until the end of the game is the only thing that matters.
Phillips was right. They were wrong. I'm going to explain why. Hopefully, I'll be clearer this time.
I think most people agree that there was really only one way to win involving the field goal.
Kick the FG
Hold NY scoreless
Score 2 TDs
Convert 2 pt Conversion
Win in OT
Do all of that and you win. Miss a single piece of it and you lose.
If Dallas went for the touchdown, their path to victory would be:
Make the Touchdown
Hold NY Scoreless
Score 2 TDs
Compare the two options and you see that "Score 2 TDs" and "Hold NY Scoreless" are in both of them. Is there any particular reason to think that in either case, it is more likely that you'll be able to make 2 TDs and hold NY scoreless just because you kicked or went? Not really. Obviously, doing this is unlikely, but its unlikely whether you go for it or not. Whatever probability you want to assign to this, you need to assign it to both scenarios. Since the probability is the same, you can just remove it from the equation.
So ultimately the decision comes down to
Make the touchdown or Kick the FG + Convert the 2 point conversion + Win in OT
Sports bettors should recognize this scenario. Wade Phillips was basically offered a choice between a straight bet and a teaser. One low probability event vs having to complete all 3 higher probability events. You can go ahead and place your own probabilities in there but I think you'll see that the teaser was the wrong choice.
But the analysis doesn't end there. Both of those scenarios involve making both TDs and holding NY scoreless. There was no realistic way that Dallas could have won without doing this if they kicked. There are several ways Dallas could have still won the game even without 2 more TDs and holding NY scoreless if they got the initial TD. They could have won in OT with two TDs and a NY field goal. They could have won in OT with one TD, a 2 point conversion and a field goal.
When you add these scenarios back in to the straight bet, the teaser that Wade Phillips was offered became even less attractive.
I'm sure some of you won't get this. Some will just throw up their hands and say "two scores is always better than 3". Some just don't want to accept that 95% of coaches routinely make the wrong decision. The crowd can't be wrong. The one guy that goes against it must be. But others might get it. If you look closely at what I'm saying and you aren't instantly dismissive, I think you'll eventually come around.
I know its counter intuitive but you'll gain a whole new understanding of football strategy if you really think about it.
Oh my god, I think Gruden is a total moron!!
After the Cowboys came back, he said that "if they would have had that field goal they gave up on a little while back...short field anything can happen..."
I think he honestly thinks that if Phillips could redo it, he should have kicked it. That is just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
Lets assume that everything else happened in the game up until that point and the Cowboys could remake that move. (I know bad assumption...but theres no reason to assume things would have been any better for the Cowboys if they kicked and they might have been worse....the neutral assumption is correct for these purposes)
Which of the following is more likely...
Kick a short field goal (98%)
Get an onside kick (10%)
Drive 35 yards into field goal position with 40 seconds and no timeouts (25%)
Kick a long field goal (70%)
Win in Overtime (50%)
Multiply all of these together and you get 0.86%.
Gruden really legitimately thinks that is more likely than Phillips way.
Convert one 6 yard pass and win the game (about 40%).
I'd point out that even missing the pass, the Cowboys still had almost as good a chance to win the game as they would have if they made the field goal. Driving the ball the whole way for a touchdown isn't that much more difficult than driving it half the way, kicking and winning it in OT.
The scary thing is that all the other reporters and coaches would probably agree with Gruden that Phillips did the wrong thing.
The really grating thing is that they would justify it by saying the "numbers" say you should kick without ever looking or thinking about a single number.
The state of math in this country is horrible but coaches are paid millions of dollars to think about these things. When somebody like Phillips or Belichick actually makes the correct decision they take an absurd amount of slack. When people like Gruden make horribly wrong decisions, nobody ever calls them on it just because all the other coaches make the same horribly wrong decisions.