Sunday, February 3, 2013

Understanding the Competition #3

Some of our readers will be predicting the victor of today's Super Bowl game. The assortment of factors that they will be employing to conclude their prediction are quite interesting.

Here is an abridged list of those factors:
  • the outcome of the last few games;
  • the team colors;
  • their favorite uniform numbers;
  • the number of All- Pros in each team
  • the sentimental reasons;
  • the performance quality of the quarterbacks;
  • the wins and losses record for each team;
  • the current streak of wins;
  • the recent two minute scoring drives;
  • the number of sacks per game; and
  • the number of interceptions per game.
A View From The Compass Desk
The amateurs preferred to look at the big data behind the game. Our preference is to focus on the long data regarding to each team and then summarize some of those data in reference to a set of relevant strategic factors. 

Here is our abridged listing of general strategic factors that we are using to predict the possible winner:
  • the injury factor;
  • the better defense;
  • the balance of the offensive game;
  • the quality of competition;
  • the balance factor;
  • the giveaway and takeaway factor;  (our favorite statistic.)
  • the terrain factor;
  • the ability to score fast;
  • the team's speed to adjust;
  • the red zone efficiency factor;
  • the momentum of winning over superior competition; and 
  • the quarterback ability to adjust to an extreme pass rush.
Do your homework! 

Focus your attention on understanding who has the better strategic power in terms of their competitive disposition, their capitalization of opportunities, their effectiveness of timed execution, their display of illusions and reality. Identify the various categories of mismatches (i.e, offense vs. defense, QB vs. MLB and FS, the offensive line vs. the defensive line, etc.) and you might discover who could be the winner before the game begins.

By analyzing the connectivity behind the various specific match-ups in certain situations and the possibilities in reference to the rate of change, the cause and effect and the probable momentum, one can predict the possible outcome.

Analyzing the ranking of key performance metrics of each team is the first step. Identifying the configuration of their strengths and weaknesses and what are their tendencies in certain tactical situations are what counts

Following is an abridged listing of those situations: 
  • The Niners could start their offensive game by employing various run plays against the Ravens "questionable" run defense while the Ravens will begin their attack by going long and deep with a two-three receivers alignment against the Niners "Bend Don't Break" Defense.   We expected the Niners to counter their nickel and dime defense.
  • The Ravens attempting an up-tempo no huddle approach against the Niners 
  • The Niners spreading the Ravens defense and then run short range pass plays and trap plays with the quick-footed LaMichael James and the speedy Vernon Davis against the slower Ray Lewis and non-agile Bernard Pollard.
  • The Ravens countering with pass plays with Ray Rice against the Niner's "Bend and Don't Break" defense
  • The Niners will successfully running an assortment of new plays (variations from their previous plays).  
  • The Ravens running an assortment of disguised blitzes and man to man coverage  against the Niner's offense.
  • The Niners running a series of flood plays that deceptively manipulates a targeted player into making a bad decision. 
  • The Ravens attempting the "Alley Opps" pass plays with Anquan Bolden  and the deep pass plays with Torrey Smith against the Niner's cornerbacks especially early in the game.
  • The Niners defense forcing the Ravens QB to run out of pocket with a four to five man rush, causing his passes to be intercepted.
Subjugating the Competitor's Foundation
In the college and professional sports, almost each everyone know the basic tendencies of their future competitors

To prevent the competitors from knowing one's habits, the Niners possesses one of the largest offensive playbook in the NFL. The late Bill Walsh and his many prodigies are known to possess a very large playbook.  The current Niners braintrust have learned from the Virtual Walsh.

Beside running their myriad of jumbo packages and their wham plays, we expected the Niners to isolate the TE on an one on one isolation against the slow linebackers in some pass situations.  the Niners could also run the pitch option and the pass action pass from their pistol formation against the older and slower Ravens defense. 

Targeting the Weak Points
Good competitive strategists usually target some of their "wear and tear" plays on the inspirational leader/chief decision makers.  The psychological reasoning is quite obvious. We expected the Niners to target some "spread (zone) and isolate" a fast  player onto Ray Lewis while the Ravens will go deep and long against the Niners "Bend Don't Break" Defense.

Food for Thought 
  • The turf of the dome usually favors the faster team. Based on the assessed data, which team is favored?
  • What is the possibility of the Niners defense knocking out the Ravens receivers?
  • Based on the last seven games, how effective is the Raven's run defense?
  • The team that takes the lead into the fourth quarter, will they effectively be able to "ground and pound" their opponent to a state of "tap or snap"?
  • The team that is running behind, will they be able to effectively "spread and shred" their competitor's prevent defense?
Big Tangible Picture
We believed that both coaches have a deep understanding of the tendencies of each other so well that they might play it conservatively in the beginning of the game. 

During the game, many of the armchair quarterbacks will be expecting Coach Jim Harbaugh (the Niners head coach) and Coach Greg Roman  (the Niners offensive coordinatorwill be looking for poor defensive responses on certain plays while creating new opportunities through the various schemes of mismatching.  Vic Fangio (the Niners defensive coordinator) will attempt to identifying the offensive play-calling tendencies of Coach Caldwell (the Ravens offensive coordinator)

We expected that Coach John Harbaugh (the Ravens head coach) to strategically change the tempo of their game whenever the Ravens are in trouble.

Based on history, we also expected that Coach Roman  is going to implement his arsenal of unorthodox plays to unnerve the competition during the early stage of the game. 

Side note:  Unorthodox stratagems (trick plays) sometimes do not matter in a near-predictable setting if one's team has the superior (and experienced) manpower who could adjust to any unique changes.  The Niners has a tactical tendency of using unique formations, multi-personnel packages, shifts and motions to deceive their competition while the Ravens has the habit of executing play action passes.  ... We will discuss the rules of implementing unorthodox stratagems and the approach for playing the contrarian card in a future post.

Point, Counterpoint and Counter, Counterpoint
Regardless that the Niners having more offensive weapons and more speed, the Ravens team has the emotional reason and the spiritual leader.  How would each team subvert the emotional foundation of the other?

Here are the clues:
"Concentrate every effort on subduing its heart and mind." -Military Methods 33

"The expert in using the military has three basic strategies which he applies: the best strategy is to attack the enemy's reliance upon acuteness of mind; the second is to attack the enemy's claim that he is waging a just war; and the last is to attack the enemy's battle position (shi).   -Sun Bin's The Art of Warfare , Chapter 34 (Fragments),  

Due to the settings of the competitive terrain and the comprehension of both teams tendencies by both coaches, some of us are thinking that the total score of this game is going to be one or three points within the over/under number of 47 points.

Offense thrills the masses.  But it is the defense that wins the championship.

The Questions of the Day
So, what strategic and tactical factors have you been using to assess your company and your competition?
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