Monday, November 16, 2009


Every leader is faced with decisions that require her/him to weigh the risks and rewards of key decisions. Usually a leader first looks at the risk. What is the level of the risk? If it is a high risk, the leader must carefully weigh the risks, the rewards and less risky options to arrive at the correct course of action.

Last night I watched incredulously as at the 2 minute mark of the New England Patriots / Indianapolis Colts game, the Patriots' leader chose the extremely high risk move of going for a first down on fourth and two at the Patriots' 28 yard line.

The risk was that if the Patriots failed to get the first down, the Colts would only have to go 28 yards for a game winning touchdown. Such a failure would leave the Colts with a very high probability to score a touchdown. The reward was probably a win for the Patriots. But the risk was probably a loss.

This is the point in time when the leader must weigh all the options. Yes, the Patriots offense is superior to its defense this year. And yes, they have made first downs on fourth and short in their own territory other times this year. But, if they punt the ball and gain a net forty yards, the Colts have to go 70 yards for a touchdown, not 28. The odds of a touchdown by the Colts, while entirely possible with their star quarterback Peyton Manning, are much lower than from the 28.

A failure at the 28 yard line would be catastrophic disaster. It was basically a bet the ranch bet that only teams losing at that point in time would make. Unprecedented for a winning team to make such a bet and unlikely for another team to try.

So was it the leader's supreme confidence in his offense? His lack of confidence in his defense? (And his lack of a vote of confidence that they couldn't prevent a touchdown at the end of the game from 70 yards.) Or was it the unbridled arrogance of the leader?

Cheers, Mike


  1. I tend to think judgement can get clouded at times when it might be a specific situation or in this case a specific team - a rival. I wonder what his decision might have been if it was the Jets?

    stay adventurous,

  2. Craig, good point. A judgement does sometimes get clouded by the pressures. Not so easy sometimes, but this seemed an easier decision than most. Maybe he overthought the situation and got too clever.