The Run Pass Option was a hot item heading into the 2017 season. Articles were popping up everywhere about a college trend that started making its way into the NFL last season.
If you don’t know what it is by now, it’s a play that has both a run play and one or two pass concepts going all at the same time. The quarterback has rules to follow based on a lot of different factors (defensive front, numbers in the box, leverage of the defenders in relation to the where receivers lined up, etc.) and it give a team the ability to be in a good play regardless of what the defense decides to do. Some RPOs allow you the ability to attack the middle, left and right side of the field in one play.
Here’s one from Sunday:
Three option RPO. Run, Bubble, Out to single receiver. pic.twitter.com/mqKFowON0I— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 6, 2017
The Ringer’s Kevin Clark wrote an article about RPOs called “The Play That Will Define the 2017 NFL Season”. He felt compelled to talk to Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy about it.
“I think this play can be great for a lot of teams,” said Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.
I’ve been charting the Chiefs offense all season. I now have 19,500 data points through 12 games. This exercise has been as much about me learning as it has been for my writing.
I noticed something last week charting the Bills game. The Chiefs ran nine RPOs in the second half. They ran zero in the first half.
In the five games before Buffalo, they ran a grand total of 10.
I perked up when I saw that. Something was different about that second half.
Then Sunday morning when it was announced that Andy Reid was handing the play calling over to Matt Nagy. It got me thinking:
Part of me wonders if at Matt Nagy at the least had more influence playcalling in the second half of the Bills game. They did some different things. I'll watch today and see if it's worth writing about.— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 3, 2017
Forgive the grammar. I was thinking out loud.
Also, it was worth writing about.
The Chiefs ran eight RPOs in the first 33 plays of the Jets game, including the one I showed at the beginning of the article. The only thing that kept them from probably running more was game situation and time. They only ran one after their last score, being forced to play from behind.
Combine the eight from the Jets game with the nine from the second half of the Bills game, and that’s 17 RPOs in the last six quarters. The vast majority of their gun running game had at least one pass option tagged with it.
I think Matt Nagy was calling the second half of the Bills game. The significant difference between RPO usage in the first and second half of the Buffalo game, combined with the sample size we got from the Jets game is too coincidental.
I’ve said the last few weeks that the Chiefs have been too reactive on offense lately. The opposing defenses have had too much control. Nagy helped the Chiefs take it back. The RPO packages gave some much needed control to the Chiefs. Force discipline on the defense. Force them to think.
The Chiefs ran some of the concepts they have built off their RPO looks as well:
The Chiefs use this concept off their bunch RPOs a decent amount. Tendency breaker, looks like bubble. They've got plenty of completions out of that bunch side. pic.twitter.com/08ZTZlNaIt— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 6, 2017
Combine the RPOs, the build off of those RPOs, the playception I wrote about this week, and the vertical passing game, and the Chiefs had more control on offense than they’ve had in a while. And enough explosive plays to make a Madden game self destruct. Nagy did an excellent job of stressing defenses in a lot of different ways, and in more space. The success they had was a result of that.
After one week it appears Andy Reid did the right thing in giving Nagy play calling duties. It was desperately needed to get out of the rut. Hopefully we continue to see the growth of the offense with the changes and tweaks Nagy provides.