FNF Coaches Talk — The Play of the Year in HS Football, John Harbaugh’s Fourth-Down Aggressiveness

Welcome back, Coaches. We’ve got three great stories for you.

1. Watch the Play of the Year in High School Football (Freaking Awesome)

I don’t know what else to say about this play other than you have to see it. Any time a broken play goes for 108 yards and a touchdown, we’re going to share it with you.


What is the craziest play you saw this season at the high school level?

2. How John Harbaugh and Ravens have gained an advantage with fourth-down aggressiveness (The Athletic)

This is a great story about a coach at the top of his profession acknowledging that there is always room for growth.

One thing Harbaugh has taken a close look at is how he can best give the Ravens an edge with his in-game decision-making. For years, he’s had a staffer in the booth communicating win probabilities to him during games. First, it was Matt Weiss, who has since become the running backs coach. This season, it’s football analyst (that’s his official title) Daniel Stern, a 25-year-old behavioral economics major who grew up in Baltimore, got his degree from Yale and is in his fourth season with the Ravens.

During the week, Stern, Harbaugh and other members of the Ravens coaching staff come up with a plan for how they want to approach each game from a strategic perspective. They decide on a set of rules that will give them the best chance to win, and Stern reminds Harbaugh of those rules on the headset during the game. At the beginning of that drive against the Seahawks, they talked about how they wanted to be aggressive in short yardage. But with a third-and-15 run play called, it seemed unlikely that they were going to be in short yardage. Jackson, as he’s done all season, exceeded expectations with his run. The numbers said to go for it, but it wasn’t a no-brainer.

“There was definitely an advantage to going for it in that situation, mathematically it was the correct thing to do,” Stern says weeks later. “But if it had been fourth-and-4 or fourth-and-5, then it wouldn’t have been the correct thing to do. It was fourth-and-2, I think it was either a long 2 or a regular 2. It definitely wasn’t one-and-a-half. It definitely was a full 2 yards.”

What information do you rely on to help with your in-game decision-making?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk