FNF Coaches Talk — Running an RPO Offense, the Truth About Passing vs. Rushing, DeShaun Watson’s Cover 4 Explanation

FNF Coaches Talk

Welcome back, Coaches. We hope you’re coming off a win and in good spirits to read three new stories.

1. ‘It’s brutal to face:’ How a high school football team built an unusual offensive system (York Daily Record)

Coaches — If you’re thinking about installing an RPO system, this article will certainly push you further in that direction.

Over the past five years, Red Lion (Pa.) has implemented the run-pass option offense. Those of us that have faced the RPO offense know how difficult it can be to defend it with only a week of preparation against a team that practices running it every day in practice.

“It’s brutal to face” said Red Lion head coach Jesse Shay, who previously served as the defensive coordinator at Mid-Penn powerhouse Bishop McDevitt. “Because you’re giving a defensive football player something to read and forcing him to make a decision. If our QB reads it correctly, (the defender) is always proven wrong. It’s incredibly frustrating for a defensive coach, and even more frustrating for a 17-year-old kid who’s doing what the coach told him to do, and at some point he’s still going to mess up.”

Red Lion offensive coordinator Taylor Green gets the credit for installing the offense to near perfection.

Head coach Jesse Shay was hired at Red Lion in April of 2013, and he kept a number of assistants on his staff. He quickly connected with Green and promoted the then 26-year-old to offensive coordinator.

He also believed his program would run smoothest if he empowered his coordinators to take control of their side of the ball.

“I was looking for someone I could trust and he was a bright, young guy,” Shay said of Green. “Taylor has proven he doesn’t need me looking over his shoulder.”

While the Lions initially ran a multiple-I offense during Shay’s first season in 2013, Green began looking at ways to incorporate elements of Conrad’s pro-style spread offense — which the Lions used to reach the District 3 title game in 2010 — into his own system. He also wanted a scheme that would succeed with different types of players.

By 2015, Green had fully implemented run-pass options as a way to take advantage of then-quarterback Dalton Grove’s skill set.

“We were trying to utilize his skills of being a good runner and decision maker as well as passer,” Green said. “It took a little while to find our niche. I guess you could consider it a spread offense, but really what we looked at was finding a way to be successful no matter who our guys were.”

Why haven’t you switched to an RPO offense? What’s stopping you?

2. The surprising truth about passing and rushing (Power Rank)

This is an interesting article that dispels some common repeated tenants of football, such as, “You have to establish the run on offense, and you have to stop the run on defense.” While this story focuses entirely on NFL statistics, it’s becoming more and more applicable with high school offenses that run the spread or Air Raid concepts.

To examine the relative importance of passing versus rushing, let’s look at how playoff and Super Bowl winning teams performed in team efficiency. Strong teams in passing and rushing will have positive efficiency values, or better than the NFL average of zero.
NFL playoff teams excel in passing, either by throwing the ball on offense, preventing the pass on defense, or both. From 1998 through 2017, only 39 of 252 playoff teams allowed more yards per pass attempt than they gained. This implies that 84.5% of playoff teams had a positive pass efficiency.
Super Bowl champions excelled in pass efficiency as well, as 15 of the 21 champions had pass efficiencies of a yard per attempt or more.

As you can see, for NFL teams at least, it has been more important to establish an efficient passing offense than rushing offense. That translates to more explosiveness in terms of yards per attempt and total points.

Each year, the significance of the passing game in the NFL becomes more apparent. The insignificance of the run game should also impact NFL handicapping. You have limited time to evaluate injuries, so focus on those that affect the passing game. The quarterback is an obvious adjustment, and an injury to a top receiver matters too. But cornerbacks do not get the same attention even though they might be the NFL’s most difficult players to replace.
Passing dominates the NFL. Rushing hardly matters.

What percentage of your practice time is spent working on run plays vs. pass plays?

3. DeShaun Watson explains a Cover 4 defense in 66 seconds (Rivers McCown)

Coaches — This 66-second clip has it all. It’s an example of a star player taking accountability after a tough loss, some X’s and O’s nuts and bolts, and a positive interaction with a media member when it could have otherwise been contentious or confrontational.

Providing an extremely detailed explanation for what happened, DeShaun Watson explains how the Panthers utilized a heavy amount of Cover-4 defensive coverage schemes, which involves four defenders each covering one-fourth of the deep zone to prevent long passes.

What type of pass coverage gives your offense the most trouble?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk