Imagine that you are a play caller for a football team that is down by 30 points with, say, 8 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. What's your strategy?
Aggression. That's your strategy. Lot's, and lot's, of aggression.
Let's take a step back. What does a normal strategy in football look like, as far as play calling goes? On offense, it's a mix of passive and aggressive calls. You'll keep the defense honest with a few running plays. A few short passes. A few screens. These are all safe, passive play calls. They're likely to yield you a few yards, but unlikely to yield you a lot of yards.
This is a problem however when you're down by 30 with 8 minutes to go: if you pursue this strategy, even if you execute it successfully, you will lose. You will make slow but steady progress chugging your way down the field. It's probably enough time to score one touchdown. Two if you're very lucky. But when you're down by 30, you need four touchdowns. So no, this strategy will not cut it.
Ok, so what's the alternative? Simple: deep passes. You need lots of yards, and you need them fast. Throwing the ball far down the field to a receiver is the way to obtain that.
Note that this is scary, and perhaps counterintuitive. Such a deep pass probably won't be completed. It feels futile. Maybe there's a 95% chance that it is incomplete. Maybe it is futile.
On the other hand, the defense is probably willing to concede a nice, easy, 10 yard completion to you. Such completions are usually hard to come by. It feels very nice to make such completions. It feels like you are being productive. It feels like solid progress is being made.
Sadly, it is not. In the unfortunate scenario you find yourself in, there simply is not nearly enough time left in the game for such a strategy to work.
Oh, in addition to completing deep passes, you also probably want to conserve the clock. That would be helpful. Try to get it to your receivers in such a way where they could get out of bounds before being tackled. When that happens, the clock stops. When they are instead tackled in bounds, the clock keeps running, draining a very precious resource from you.
You might also want to try a few trick plays. Trick plays are an even more extreme version of the deep pass to some extent: they're even less likely to work, but when they do, they can yield a lot of yards.
One downside to trick plays is that you expose your hand, so to speak. They work because of some unconventional, unexpected wrinkle to the play. But after the opponent sees it once, it's not gonna work again. And all the other teams in the league are gonna see it too. But when you need to win, that is an acceptable price to pay.
Calling plays is only one part of what a coach does to help their team win the game though. Motivating players is another. Eg. with speeches.
Such speeches are a scarce resource, I believe. Here's what I mean. Consider a coach that gives the "It's now or never! Lay it all out on the line!" speech after every quarter, throughout the season. It gets old after a while. It feels like the boy who cried wolf. But when the calm and collected coach who never cries wolf suddenly gets amped up, it really means something, y'know?
Despite what they might claim, coaches rarely play to win the game. At least to my eye. They don't turn the aggression dial up as much as I'd expect if they were actually trying to win.
Perhaps incentives can explain this. When you just flail a handful of deep passes down the field that futilely fall incomplete and the team ends up losing by 30, you don't look very good. On the other hand, if you chug down the field and score two touchdowns, losing by 14 let's say, you don't look quite as bad. It wasn't as big a loss. Your troops pushed forward and made visible progress towards victory. The fans were entertained. The players padded their stats. And by an unspoken agreement, they didn't put each others bodies at as much risk either.
Perhaps there is wisdom in this.
Or, perhaps not. Perhaps one should, in fact, play to win the game. Is that not the goal?
Depends on the game. Sometimes, no, it isn't the goal. Sometimes it is just a small part of a larger whole. The actual goal is to win the Superbowl, and it might make sense to take your foot off the gas during a Thursday night game in the middle of the regular season where you're down by 30. Live to fight another day.
You can even argue that the Superbowl itself is just a part of a bigger whole. Suppose you have a young superstar quarterback like Patrick Mahomes and he has a bum knee in the Superbowl. You might not want to put him back in the game. He might further injure his knee, jeopardizing the bright future you guys have of winning multiple Superbowls over time.
And even that isn't where the rabbit hole ends. You could argue that this all is ultimately just a game, and that the real goal is, uh, being satisfied with life or something like that. I'm actually one to cheer "Sports Go Sports!". I believe that they can be a major component to such bigger picture life satisfaction and shouldn't be dismissed as childish or whatever, but sure, the Superbowls aren't the actual end goal.
At some point the rabbit hole bottoms out though, and you find yourself facing the actual end goal. This isn't a place where humans spend much time hanging out. We usually hang around the surface. Sometimes we venture a little further down, climbing down the ladder a few rungs, but with a rope tied to our waist and a trusted friend at the top holding it in case we fall. But sometimes we just get knocked down with no safety harness and awkwardly trip all over ourselves, stumbling until we fall all the way to the bottom. It is at this point that we must play to win.