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Greetings all. It's been too long my friends. I was meaning to do one of these last week, but after the opening weekend dumpster fire, I couldn't bring myself to look at that game against the Vikings again without feeling to need to vomit. Mercifully, this week was different. Don't you just love a victory Monday? You don't feel like kicking the dog, annoying kids seem cute, food taste better. Life is just a little better coming off a W. With all that out the way, I wasn't in love with everything I saw last night from Dirk and offense, and I'm still angling to try to see what we hang our hat on on that side of the ball. No worries though -- it's just week 2 and we opened up against two teams that are built to give us problems no matter how together we are, so I have confidence that the offensive cohesion will come (fingers crossed). But I did see some interesting wrinkles last night and I thought they were worth discussing. RPO - or Run Pass Option where a run play is called in the huddle and the quarterback has a built in pass play to get to based on the read of a key defender. You remember a couple years ago when the Eagles tore through the playoffs and the RPO was all the rage and some around here got to asking why we didn't run them? Well we did... and we do. We've always run RPO's going back to the days of Mularkey. We just ran them from under center and they often looked like quick slants. There's one wrinkle that separates these from play-action passes, which commentators often confuse them for. The run and pass are completely independent of one another. On a play action pass, the offensive line, even though they are firing out to show run, are still blocking for pass. In and RPO, they are strictly run blocking. They have no idea if the QB is picking it up and throwing or handing off. They are just doing their job. Even the running back doesn't know if it's run or pass. The pass option is strictly between the QB and the receiver. Everyone else is executing a run play. PLAY #1 - from the opening drive. We are in a a strong-I formation. STRONG denoting that the fullback in the "I" is set to the the tight end side instead of a dotted "I" directly behind the QB, for anyone who is wondering. Julio is in a reduced, or "Nasty" split in West Coast Offensive lingo. Now there are all sorts of cool strategic reasons you put Julio in a nasty split that's worthy of it's own topic. We can get to that another time. Sanu is out wide at the top of the screen. The run call is an inside zone weak to the boundary, with Sanu running a smoke route to the back side of the play. The read Matt is making is the linebackers. This is where the QB earns his money, in the pre-snap reads. He sees them packed in and just creeping for an all out blitz. I can't see the coverage to see if it's a Cover-0, but it is not a favorable run look, even with the Wide-9 alignment the Eagles are in. Also, Matt sees the corner playing off, past the sticks, so it's an easy decision. If that guy was pressed, Matt doesn't throw it out there. Matt picks the ball up and gives it to Sanu right now... And Sanu is just out there being a football player on 2nd and 4. This is more of what I want to see. You don't have to be clever to get the most out of this offense. We don't have to try to drop bombs on people all game. Defense wants to blitz you and leave OUR WEAPONS one on one, let 'em. Get the ball out quick and we'll take our guys one-on-one every time.
I've you've ever wondered what the term RPO or Run/Pass Option is, it is exactly how it sounds. The play is sort of packaged in a kind of two for one deal. You've got the called run play that comes in, BUT if the quarterback gets a certain look he's got a quick pass that he can just fling out there. It is not the same thing as when you 'Kill' a play from run to pass or when you audible . This is strictly between the quarterback and his receiver. The rest of the offense will still block it like it's a run, the running back may even be expecting the ball. So, for example if I'm at quarterback and @TheFatboi is at receiver and say @vel is in the backfield. I'm gonna get my pre-snap read and if the box is light, and they don't have that extra safety down then vel is getting the ball on a handoff, but if I look and there's 8 or 9 in the box, and I look out there at TheFatboi and that corner is playing off, I'm just gonna flick it out there. If that corner is pressed up on him, he's gonna press upfield and expect a back shoulder fade. We've already worked out these different scenarios in practice, so we're ready for anything. Drew Brees used to and still does get a lot of cheap yards off of this. Seattle did this a few times yesterday. Take note today with the Packers, this has been a huge component of their offense for a while, and finally, I'm starting to see this turned loose in Atlanta. Now full disclosure, this might have been in the scheme all along (in fact, I'm pretty sure it has been). It's just now jumping out to me. Matt Ryan's first touchdown pass to Julio was actually a called run (read that in an article), but the one that leapt off the screen to me that I wanted to take a look at was the one to Sanu that wound up being the killshot. Here's the play. Falcon's 1st and goal. Kyle has an inside zone play called from a singleback set. Matt takes a peek out to the bottom of the screen and I'm not 100% sure what he say that he liked. Maybe it was wide-bodied 6'2" Sanu against skinny 6'0" Lane (who had been getting abused all game). Maybe he liked the leverage he saw. Whatever it was, Matt was like "f*c1 it, it's 1st down I'm taking a shot." It was probably the 8 men in the box with both receiver's singled up that was what he liked. At any rate... And this is how you know it was a called run play. Take a look at the offensive line. Look how low they are firing out, looking to get push. That's what you do on a run play vs. a called pass play where the line retreats to form that pocket. Even on a called quick pass where the offensive line will play a little more aggressive, they still don't fire out low and hard like this. Further evidence, take a look at Freeman. He comes forward with his arms positioned like he's expecting a handoff. Matt's like "nah, homie, I got this one." Matt, you tricky *******. Beautiful job by Sanu. I usually try to wait until the middle of the week to do these, so as not to overlap with Shockley's film session, but this play really jumped out to me. Had me giddy at just how many new wrinkles I notice from week to week. Enjoy the rest of your football Sunday gentlemen... and the few ladies who are on the board.