Good post! IMO, in an effort to deceive the D, OCs have created offenses that also confuse the QB. Manning and Brady were able to do it because they got a little bit added to their plate each year, but the new guys get the entire thing heaped on their plate all at once. RPO simplifies things a little for the QB while still keeping the D guessing. IMO, a simple O can be very effective if everybody executes well.on3m@n@rmy said:Would Vegas even have a large enough NFL market to support a team? I dunno.
Run Pass Option (RPO) is an interesting trend in football programs at all levels (HS, NCAA, & pro). But first I wondered how football got to this point, even knowing offensive coaches are always trying to get an edge on defenses.
Several weeks ago I posted how one local HS coach, who has a son in the NFL (even if just barely) and who gets his way around to visiting college programs due to lots of spare time being a retired teacher, says that college football programs are “starving” for QBs. A few days later NFL radio aired a segment about the huge talent gap that exists between college QBs and NFL QBs. I chalked that up as interesting. On the heels of that, Bleacher Report posted this article on “Are RPO’s the next big thing to hit NFL offenses?” That got my attention.
This first question that came to mind was whether or not QB talent level is helping drive the change in HS and college teams to running RPO. There are a lot of interesting facets to RPO offenses. But here are a few facts when it comes to RPO:
- RPO is simpler for offensive line blocking. That is because the OL is ALWAYS run blocking, even when it is a pass. This puts second tier defenders (LBs, CBs, and safeties who occupy pass lanes) at conflict. No longer can these defenders immediate read pass because the O-Linemen heads are not popping up as in traditional drop back pass blocking. The defenders must use other reads, and the undisciplined defender will bite and fill a run gap.
- Because of that, the QB, instead of using full-field reads of the defense, just reads the defender at conflict for the given play. So, many times the play is simpler for the QB to execute to get the ball in the right hands. And often the pass is not long downfield.
And then if the play is easier for the QB to execute, then it is also easier to teach, which is particularly important at the HS and college level where teams only have players a few years. Helping fuel this trend to RPO offenses at the HS and NCAA level is the fact that many defenders are not well disciplined when it comes to executing their defensive role. Many defenders just want to get to the ball instead of performing their role, and find it difficult to learn to trust their teammates. That is part of why RPO in HS and NCAA is successful. That and the fact defensive coaches have to figure out how to stop RPO’s, which is a huge topic itself.
So, will RPO make more headway into the NFL? RPO is not the same as the NFL’s Read-Option that teams like SEA, CAR, and SF have run. RPO is full-scale commitment to a read option on EVERY play. That means there is a pass element to every run play, and a run element to every pass play. And to put defenders into conflict (e.g. do they play pass or read run and fill gaps), the OL tactics are to always run block. The twist to this style of blocking is OL guys cannot go too far downfield to continue their blocks. There is that “illegal man downfield” rule the OL guys can get caught breaking, which is being more than 3 yards downfield. A lineman might get away with being 4 or even 5 yards downfield, but the result is for them to pull up. THAT is the part of the RPO blocking scheme I dislike, which takes away some of the smash-mouth blocking style which is more punishing and more interesting to watch (to me anyway). (Side note – that might be required and end up as a rule change to reduce concussions from blocking in the trenches). At the end of the day, the RPO might become the next big thing in the NFL for the latter reason, but if not for that it might just come and go like wildcat plays. The reason RPO may not last for long in the NFL is for the simple reason that NFL defenders are more disciplined and know more about the game than HS and NCAA players, and NFL defensive coaches will find ways to limit the effectiveness of RPO offenses (e.g. attacking with interior & edge rushers).