Good afternoon, Coaches. Here are three good stories for you.
1. The RPO and the Andy Reid coaching tree (Pro Football Focus)
RPO usage among NFL teams has doubled since 2016, from just 4% of plays in 2016 to over 8% of plays last year.
As 69.2% of RPOs in 2018 ended up being a run play, it’s important to study the impact of these play calls on the running game. Since 2016, RPOs have resulted in a leaguewide average of 4.7 yards per play, while non-RPO run plays averaged just 3.9 yards per play.
Over recent years, the RPO has taken the NFL by storm, and one of its largest proponents is Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. The defending AFC West champions have led the NFL in RPO usage in each of the last two seasons (25.0% in 2018, 17.1% in 2017). Reid and the Chiefs are one of the NFL’s most successful teams when running these run-pass options, and they have averaged an impressive 5.8 yards per play (third-best) while doing so.
Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy coached under Reid in Kansas City and are now operating the offenses that use RPOs second- and third-most in the league, resepectively. This study found that — in addition to being the top teams at running RPOs — Kansas City, Philadelphia and Chicago — had the top three defenses when it came to stopping RPOs. That only makes sense when you figure they practice against it every day.
But one of the more intriguing tidbits regarding RPOs and these three teams is how little their opponents ran them in 2018. Kansas City faced the lowest rate of RPOs in the NFL (4.6%), Philadelphia faced them at the second-lowest rate (5.2%) and Chicago faced them at the seventh-lowest rate (6.7%). Additionally, both Chicago and Philadelphia ranked in the top three among all NFL defenses in RPO defense. Chicago allowed just 2.7 yards per RPO (second) and Philadelphia wasn’t too far behind at 2.8 yards per RPO (third). In other words, the NFL knows better than to try and outscheme the RPO masterminds.
What impact do RPO play calls have on the productivity of your offense?
2. Riddell and Peyton Manning Unveil Football’s Team of the Future to Kick-Off Fifth-Annual Smarter Football Program (Business Wire)
Riddell recently named Peoria High (Ill.) as its Team of the Future to celebrate the launch of the 2019 Smarter Football program. Peoria, known for its progressive approach to football, became one of the first high schools in the country completely outfitted with the latest in football head protection and smart helmet technologies.
Riddell chose the school because of the coaching staff’s gutsy game management philosophy.
The Riddell Team of the Future symbolizes a new era of smarter football by combining state-of-the-art equipment with the Lions’ unique style of play. The Lions go for it on fourth downs, always attempt two-point conversions, and try onside kicks on every kickoff. The team is also dedicated to preventing unnecessary player contact, limiting it in practices throughout the season.
Coaches — If you’re doing something innovative on your staff, you might consider applying for the Smarter Program rewards.
Since its inception, more than 3,600 football programs across North America, from youth to semi-pro, have applied for a Smarter Football equipment grant. Riddell and Peyton Manning will select 10 grant winners for 2019 with Manning donating Riddell’s InSite impact monitoring technology to all winning programs.
What is the most innovative thing your staff is doing that you would mention in an application to the Smarter Football program?
3. Kellen Moore’s Simplified Confusion: Formations, Motion, and Numbers (Inside the Pylon)
The Dallas Cowboys’ decision to promote Kellen Moore from QB coach to offensive coordinator had people outside of the organization scratching their heads at first. Moore has just one year of coaching experience and is only two years removed from backing up Dak Prescott. But the Cowboys’ new offensive coordinator has garnered a lot of support inside the team’s building since being promoted.
One way Moore can be creative is through the use of pre-snap motion. Dallas used pre-snap motion on 31% of their offensive plays in 2018 per Sports Info Solutions. That figure ranked 24th in the NFL and below the NFL average of 36.6%. But despite not using pre-snap motion all that much relative to the league, the Cowboys had a lot of success when using it.
A play the Cowboys routinely called the last few seasons was their Jet Sweep Screen. Prescott would signal to motion either the slot or outside receiver from the play side across the formation prior to the snap. In this example it’s Cole Beasley motioning from the outside. The cornerback follows Beasley across the field, signaling Detroit is playing man coverage.
How do you use pre-snap motion to determine what the defensive play call will be?