RGIII’s Offensive ROY Campaign: Running RPOs

The following post is an excerpt from a comprehensive breakdown of RGIII’s Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Click here to read the entire article at the Orange and Brown Report.

A second concept that shows up repeatedly on RGIII’s 2012 game tape is the popular RPO, or run/pass option. Shanahan wisely integrated run/pass options in the Redskins’ offense because like Inside Zone with aN EMLOS read, Griffen experienced great success running the concept at Baylor.

The idea is surprisingly simple; merge a pass play and run play into a single concept. The offensive line will run block while the receivers and tight ends run pass routes. The quarterback will decide whether to hand off to the running back or throw a pass to the receivers based on the action of a single ‘read’ defender. The goal is to put the read defender in a pass-run conflict by forcing him to choose between run/pass responsibility, making him wrong no matter what he does.

RPOs work particularly well in a no-huddle, hurry-up offense as they allow the quarterback to make quick, simple decisions without the need to make complicated line calls and pre-snap coverage reads. The passing aspect of the play allows the offense to get the ball to playmakers in space, as the pass routes consist of quick-game slants, hitches, and seams that are a broken-tackle away from going for six. Most packaged plays do not utilize intermediate or vertical routes as the offensive line may not block further than five yards downfield (a controversial issue within the coaching community as this rule is rarely enforced).

In RGIII’s first game as a pro former Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan dialed up several RPOs to take advantage of his rookie signal-callers comfort with the concept.

Our first example combines split zone, a variation of inside zone in which an H-back Arc blocks across the formation, with a wide receiver Bubble Screen. The read man is free safety Kenny Vaccaro, who has crept up to linebacker-level to run blitz.

Vaccaro takes the decision out of the play, run blitzing just before the snap, leaving the bubble screen with numbers on the outside for an easy 9-yard gain.

Our next example occurs on the very next play, with the split zone and bubble screen flipped to the opposite side of the field. The read man becomes the SAM (#57).

The wide receiver already has the SAM outleveraged to the outside. Because the linebacker stays flat-footed at the snap, Griffin again makes the easy throw for six yards and a first down.

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