Cost Benefit Follow Up

This week’s blog comes as a follow-up to last week’s discussion of Cost Benefit Analysis and how we try to assess the “benefit” of a given play during games vs the “cost” to install and refine plays during practice. I’ve noted on several occasions how fortunate we are as coaches to enjoy a culture of shared knowledge and experience amongst coaching colleagues. The following response once again reinforces my point.

Coach Frank Francisco, a longtime friend, mentor, and author of “Evolution of the Game: A Chronicle of American Football,” responded to last week’s blog offering the following:


This is not meant, in any way, to be critical of your recent OlineSkills blog. What you are doing is a great approach.  I’ve always been a strong believer in doing a “post-season self-scout.” A lot of coaches move right on to the next year with only a cursory, subjective evaluation without doing any real cost-benefit analysis. However, I have found the analysis doesn’t always provide an accurate measure of play success vs. input/practice time.  I’m going to give you some things to think about using additional variables that might increase the accuracy when coaches measure play success. 

Measuring Success:  Five yards on third-and-4 are more difficult to get and consequently more valuable than five yards on first and 10; and much more valuable than five yards on third and 12.  Red zone plays are probably worth more than plays in other locations of the field. Certainly, it is easier to gain five yards in the middle of the field.  There are a number of other factors that can differentiate one five-yard run from another.  Are you up by two scores in the fourth quarter (4-minute offense) when the play is called, or are you down by two scores (2-minute offense) and trying to catch up? Also, a play gaining five yards vs. the defending state champions is more difficult and more valuable than five yards vs. a team ranked near the bottom of your league. 

Coach Francisco, a former Division 1 coach, offers a much deeper dive into play analysis.  Referring back to my college statistics class, I have used descriptive statistics for play analysis which summarized data using indexes such as mean, median, and mode.  Coach Francisco’s ideas offer additional value or weight to a given situation and the potential to attribute greater or lesser benefit over the course of a season. Although a more complex and potentially arduous process in play evaluation, his inferential statistics approach should yield more accurate predictions from the data, and offers an interesting point of comparison.  

As February’s arrival signals the heart of winter here in the Northeast Kingdom, perhaps some time perusing spreadsheets and statistics will help us prepare for Spring practice and better reinforce success.

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time! 

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