In this concept, the QB makes a pre-snap read of the play side-support defender (or any other adjuster) and either throw the flare or keep the QB power. This added wrinkle yielded large gains to our offense and helped us on our way to winning a Long Island Championship.
By Virgil Romer
Shoreham-Wading River High School (NY)
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At Shoreham-Wading River High School, we employ a run-heavy offense built on a foundation of inside zone, power, and counter. Because of this, we see many packed boxes and Cover-0 looks throughout the season. Around the mid-season mark, we were looking for ways to add some wrinkles to the offense that brought big results and required minimal learning for our athletes. During one of our post-game film sessions, our head coach Aden Smith - the man who deserves the credit for introducing myself to the concept - brought up the idea of running a QB power paired with a flare-motion by the RB - The QB would make a pre-snap read of the playside-support defender (or any other adjuster) and either throw the flare or keep the QB power. This added wrinkle to our offense yielded large gains to our offense and helped us on our way to winning a Long Island Championship.
Before beginning, I would like to mention that I am extremely fortunate to work with an incredible coaching staff - Head Coach Aden Smith, line coaches Tom Foley and Bobby Puckey, and running backs coach Nick Mauceri. This package I am about to present does not achieve the success it does without their hard work and input.
We initially installed this concept to be run out of a 21 personnel-look with the fullback in the sniffer position and the running back offset-weak in the gun. Teaching it to our kids was very simple for us as we just combined two concepts we were already using in our offense. We had our line, tight end, and fullback block power, while the frontside WR stalked for the flaring RB. While we didn’t stress it at first, we eventually had the backside WR run a slant route.
While some flare-type RPOs can be considered post-snap reads, we felt strongly about making this a pre-snap read. We were fortunate to have an incredible athlete at QB, and we didn't want him wasting any time after the snap, in deciding if he should keep the ball or throw it. If he wasn’t sure as to what to do, he was instructed to keep the ball.
It’s important that the QB knows that there needs to be a full commitment by the adjuster to attack the flare - If the QB is reluctant to throw the flare when it's there because he's not sure from his point of view, instruct him too! The defense must respect the flare motion in order to open up the QB run.
The most important thing we had to do in practice (aside from reps) to make this concept efficient was practice our flare throws. During our special teams’ periods, we had our QBs throw flares to any kids who weren’t on the field during our special teams periods. The amount of throws kids can get over the course of two five-minute periods is unbelievable if they are focused.
The flare motion must be run in a manner that puts horizontal stress on the defense. We are looking to create distortions with our motion, just as you would when you run a full-speed jet-motion. This means that the flare motion should be run as fast as possible that allows the athlete to maintain the ability to adjust to and catch the football. If the motion is too slow, the defender adjusting to the motion may be able to make the play on the QB if the QB keeps the ball - something that we don’t want to happen. The motion should also stretch as wide as the QB’s arm allows him to throw.
Even though we are running a basic power with a fullback kick-out, it’s important to note that there will most likely be defensive flow to the flare motion, especially after you run the concept a few times. At this point, you can take the approach of blocking power as if you were running power read - Prepare your pulling guard to possibly take a wider track to the play side LB, and have your double team be alert to the backside LB scraping to the play side a little sooner. I will include some constraint plays towards the end of the article to help combat the fast flow of the defense in this case.
As is the case with most run plays, it’s very important that the play side WR is a good blocker in space - They could be the difference between a flare either going for four yards or a 50-yard score. It should be noted that the WR is responsible for blocking the CB over him, and to not worry about an adjusting safety or most dangerous man.
Going into each game, we felt it was important as a staff to identify how defenses adjusted to the flare motion. While we could take good guesses by what defenses had shown in adjusting to the motion on film, we always were on the lookout to confirm their adjustment tendency the first time we ran the QB power/flare concept in a game. We also would determine if an adjusting defender was “slow-playing” the motion as previously stated. These things not only aided our QB in successfully running the concept but also helped us dictate which constraint plays we would employ to counter the defense's adjustment and flow.
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- How Coach Romer teaches the quarterback to treat “slow play” movement vs. flair motion.
- How using overload formation variations alleviates numbers from the box, opening up the QB Power element.
- How the concept is adjusted in Empty personnel groupings to allow other athletes to touch the ball.
- Why building in counter concepts as constraint plays to the backside of the flair motion combats fast flowing defenses.
- How using side car alignments breaks tendencies and over rotates the defense.
- Plus, raw and narrated game film of all these concepts.
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The QB Flare/RPO concept in its entirety played a key role in our offense this past year as we made our playoff run. If power and outside screens are a staple of your offense, consider adding this concept as a simple wrinkle that can yield great results on game day. With a little creativity, the concept can be formational and adapted in ways to fit what you do on offense easily.
Meet Coach Virgil Romer: Coach Romer is heading into his third season as the Offensive Coordinator at Shoreham-Wading River High School (NY). In his first two seasons with the Wildcats, his offenses have averaged 43 points per game on their way to a Long Island Championship appearance in 2018 and championship in 2019. He has previously served as an assistant coach in varying capacities at Hampton Bays High School, Southampton High School, and Wyandanch High School.