A change in offensive philosophy
At NBC, I broke down the change I’ve seen in the Cowboys’ offensive philosophy:
After the Cowboys’ first preseason game, I wrote an article detailing why we’re seeing a shift in the philosophy of the team’s running game. Specifically, Bill Callahan has been calling way more runs to the perimeter of the defense. I have a feeling that we’re going to see lots of different wrinkles from the running game this year, most of which will be dependent on the opponents’ actions. It appears that instead of doing what works best in a vacuum, Callahan is calling plays in a way that can more appropriately attack defensive weaknesses as opposed to solely doing what the offense does best.
In that way, Callahan is implementing game theory—a branch of decision theory that takes others’ thoughts and actions into account. Football is a game of competing minds, and decision-makers need to be one step ahead of their opponents. The goal shouldn’t always be to do what your team does best, because then you’ll become predictable. Sometimes, it’s best to do what’s otherwise sub-optimal because, when combined with the opponent’s intentions, the net effect is the most positive.