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By Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs

The information presented in this report is from our latest special report, 2018 RPO Evolution. The 3 new trends revealed in this report will bring a new wave of RPO production next fall. Continue reading this special report for more information.


By Mike Kuchar 
Senior Research Manager 
X&O Labs 
Twitter: @MikekKuchar 


Insiders Members: Login here to access the full-length version of this report.  


Editor’s Note: The information presented in this report is from our latest special report, 2018 RPO Evolution. The 3 new trends revealed in this report will bring a new wave of RPO production next fall. Continue reading this special report for more information.  

When the RPO craze hit the football industry back in 2014, many of the concepts being developed were designed from open, one back personnel groupings. Concepts were devised from 10, 11, 20 personnel from doubles and trips formations. This made sense at the time because many RPO advocates were spread coaches by nature. These formations and personnel groupings were already part of their offensive play menu. So, they were constructing ways to protect their top runs from these structures. 

But the paradigm has started to shift now into how to present these same run/pass conflicts to defenders using heavier personnel sets. Programs with able-bodied full backs and tight ends (that can both block and stretch the field vertically) are creating pass conflicts from their base runs to affect defenders. In this report, we present our research on how a small group of coaches are keeping heavier personnel groupings on the field not just to run the ball on third and short, but to create manipulations in the RPO game by affecting dual read defenders.  

Editor’s Note: The personnel groupings included in this report include the following: 

12 Personnel: one back, two tight ends 

13 Personnel: one back, three tight ends 

21 Personnel: two backs, one tight end 

22 Personnel: two backs, two tight ends 

Two of our sources were quick to extol their statistics since using these groupings: 

Ocean City High School (NJ): Offensive Coordinator Paul Callahan 

  • 56% completion percentage at 13.0 yards per attempt 
  • Averaged 5.6 yards per carry in the run game. 
  • Averaged 9.5 yards per play on RPO from 12 personnel 

When we asked our sources why they are using RPOs from these groupings, we found several common denominators: 

  • It was a way to utilize a very good Tight End. 
  • More defenders in the box led to more RPO opportunities outside. 
  • It is extremely difficult for a defense to be gap sound and coverage sound. 
  • It forced a safety either to make a decision in the box or in coverage. It eliminated the element of disguise. 
  • Allows the use of a tight end as both blockers and receivers. 
  • It’s a perfect complement to red zone offense. 
  • Teams that loaded the box early had to lighten to defend the pass option. This in turned opened the run game. 
  • The tight end created an extra gap in run game. 

Like any other offensive probability of success, it all came down to numbers. Having two tight ends (or one tight end and a FB) creates two advantages: 

  • It creates a potential of 8 gaps in the run game. 
  • It creates a possibility of four vertical threats in the pass game. 

Overhang Read Manipulations 

Slant RPO Concept: Ocean City High School (NJ) 


In order to manipulate the overhang defender who may be flowing with the full zone action of the pin and pull, Coach Callahan will tag either two in routes or two slants. His quarterback will read the first linebacker inside of the slot and get be a pre-snap or post-snap RPO. “We tell our quarterback if the alley defender is inside of slot to give on sweep every time since there's not enough players to stop sweep (Diagram 9),” he told us. “Formation doesn’t matter, it depends on alignment of first backer inside the slot.” 


Against man defensive structures or those that leverage the slot, the slot is either asked to win inside on the slant post-snap or the quarterback makes a pre-snap decision to hand the ball off on the pin and pull (Diagram 10). The simplest decision is to hand the ball off on the pin and pull run concept. 


To study game film of this concept, click on the video below: 


I would encourage any coach who found this report useful to continue reading our latest special report, 2018 RPO Evolution. With base RPOs dying, we went in search of the next evolutionary changes coming to RPOs this fall. And that’s exactly what we found… the 3 biggest innovations to RPOs in the last four years.  

How did we uncover these new RPO trends? Real talk from offensive play-callers who make their living calling RPOs. And boy, did they talk… 

What my research team and I found are 3 RPO innovations that will bring a new wave of RPO production next fall—but only for those who learn these trends from the innovators. The entire 2018 RPO Evolution special report is located in the Insiders membership website. Click the link below to join now. You’ll get everything you need to tweak, change or fully implement into your offense—any offense. 

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