That was certainly the case at the end of last season, when it seemed like every play-action pass the Eagles ran out of a shotgun formation was labeled an RPO. He makes the decision based on the movement of a single defender, usually a safety or linebacker lurking on the second level of the defense, directly after the snap.
As the graphic explains, if the defender who is being read comes up to defend the run, the quarterback will pull the ball and throw a pass. If that defender stays put or drops into coverage, the QB hands it off.
The defense either has one fewer defender to defend the pass or one fewer defender to defend the run. Here are a few key things to pass option at… 1. The offensive line Keep an eye on how aggressive the offensive line is after the snap.
If they are going forward and blocking downfield as if they were run blocking, but the quarterback ends up passing the ball, you are pass option looking at an RPO.
The offensive tackles will really give it away. Keep an eye on the offensive tackles… 2. The receivers Now if a quarterback hands the ball off on an RPO, the best way to diagnose it is by looking at the receivers.
Are they running routes or are they blocking for the running back? This is an RPO… This is not… 3.
- That "option" for which play is run lies with the quarterback.
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We see that in the example from the Eagles-Vikings game above. And if the commentator calls it pass option RPO, feel free to scream at your television.