Analysis of tempo
William S. Krasker at Football Commentary has posted an analysis of tempo – should a team run a slowdown or “hurry-up” offense? The principle behind the choice is not strategic (the choice doesn’t affect relative abilities) but rather optimal time management given relative abilities and the game situation – whether to extend or shorten the game. A general characterization is that “underdogs should use a slowdown tempo unless they trail by a sufficient amount, and the favorites should use a hurry-up tempo unless they lead by a sufficient amount.” See the article to get a sense of the magnitudes.
I found Krasker’s final comment intriguing:
Coaches are often reluctant to use strategies that conflict with conventional wisdom, due to an aversion to being second guessed. For the strategies described here, there is an additional impediment: One of the coaches would have to admit, in effect, that he’s coaching the inferior team. So we shouldn’t expect to see teams following this prescription any time soon.
Innovation is most profitable when conventional wisdom is blind to it, and as the post below suggests (also this post which mentions Bill Belichick’s use of economics), analytical methods are being increasingly employed by NFL teams. Hence, perhaps Krasker should be more optimistic about his conclusions being adopted, at least by a few teams. Second, an implicit admission that “he’s coaching the inferior team” is not uncommon – soccer coaches at all levels adopt defensive strategies as a matter of routine when they know they are outclassed.