Thursday, February 11, 2016

Combining RPO's and Tempo to Create a Dominating Offense!

I am on my way to talk RPO's and Tempo, and I thought this was a great time to share some thoughts! 

Football is an ever evolving game, with coaches at all levels trying to gain an advantage. Coaches attend clinics, visit other staffs, and communicate via social media to share thoughts on how to best attack their opponents. Over the last ten to fifteen years we have seen huge innovations that have led to explosions in offensive football. The two biggest elements affecting this are RPO's and Tempo. Teams that use either of these are increasing their explosive plays and scoring more points. But the schools that are really blowing circuits on the scoreboard... are the teams combining these two elements together!

Not since the forward pass have we seen an innovation that will change the game for generations. Offenses that have the ability to change tempos and play very fast put enormous pressure on the defense. When you combine this with Run-Pass Options, the defense is in a serious bind. Offenses aren't running new plays to score more points, they are simply running tried and true concepts faster than ever before.

Let's start by introducing a simple RPO concept. RPO's are simply run pass options. What we have done, in a nutshell, is built in a pass concept with every single run we have. If we call a run, someone is running a pass route of some sort. We build them into our calls, and a one word call says it all. 

My favorite base run concept is the inside zone read. The inside zone read attacks the inside gaps of the defense, while allowing the quarterback to "read" a defender. Typically this will be the backside C gap defender after the snap. The reason we say "after" the snap, is because the player in the C gap presnap may not be the C gap player post snap. 

With our inside zone read concept the offensive line is going to use covered/uncovered rules. A covered frontside lineman is going to work in combination with an adjacent uncovered lineman to account for the down lineman and linebacker. It is a two tracking two concept. Below is a diagram showing this principle. 

In the figure on the left the defense ran a gap exchange stunt. We coach the offensive lineman to read color. If color comes to me I block color. If color goes away I help secure the down guy and climb to backer. In the figure on the right, the defense plays their base gaps. Before climbing to the backer the center helps to secure the down guy. We have two simple rules. Secure the down guy first, and don't chase backers. Their landmark is the playside jersey number of the down defender. We want to dent the line of scrimmage and get movement. This pairs well with outside zone because the defensive line doesn't know initially if you are trying to lock the box or get vertical.

Inside zone read in itself is a great concept, but when you build a pass concept into it, it becomes much more difficult to defend. We are going to build in a quick game concept to both sides of our inside zone read. From a 2x2 set we are going to build in what we call quick. Many call this Smoke or Now. The #1 WR is going to show fast feet and fast hands and step back behind the LOS. The #2 WR is going to take a flat angle of departure and read the MDM or Most Dangerous Man. Below is a diagram of the Inside Zone Read RPO concept from a 2x2 set vs. a 4-4 defense. 

The quarterback is going to make a very quick presnap read. If we have leverage on the edge we are going to throw the quick. If we don't, we are going to execute the run. If he feels like we have leverage to either side, he is going to catch and throw. He doesn't have to say anything to anyone. The offensive line is going to block the run. They assume we are going to run the ball every play. The receivers to both sides assume we are going to throw the quick every play. This can be called with one word. You do not need to tag the quick game concept. 

Before we married our run and pass concepts, we hated to see a loaded box. Teams would leave the boundary receiver uncovered and get an extra player in the box. Below is an illustration of what teams would do to get another defender in the box. 

We were not going to be able to account for the 7th defender in the box if we ran the ball. But with our RPO concepts, we immediately can snap the ball and take advantage of the perimeter advantage we have. It becomes very difficult for the defense to have enough players in the box while still defending our skill players. 

What really takes this concept to another level, however, is the ability to use tempo. We use six basic tempos in our offense. One of those tempos is what we call Nascar. Like a lot of you, when we go Nascar we are going to go as fast as we can. As soon as the play ends our players are hustling to the ball while looking at the sideline. As they get the signal for our Inside Zone Read at Nascar Tempo, they are going to sprint to the line and execute the play. The defense has to decipher the formation, make their strength calls and communicate coverage, and get their hand down and get ready to play. Our goal is to snap the ball with 32 seconds on the play clock. We want to snap the ball as soon as the ref's hand is out of the way.

The defense now has to defend 6 gaps. They have to have a dive and a quarterback player, and they have to account for 2 receivers to each side. That in itself is difficult. But when we go at Nascar Tempo, that is a game changer. This is why so many defensive coaches hate the game being played fast. 

Each time you run your inside zone read RPO the play is going to be different. We once ran this 7 times in a rowing a game. The first time we threw to the right. The second time we threw to the left. The third time we threw right. The fourth time we executed the run. The fifth time the defense had 13 men on the field because they were trying to substitute. The next play we threw to the left. The smallest gain was 8 yards. Below is a diagram of our first down play.

The outside backers were hipped, so our QB threw the quick concept. The outside receiver made the catch and got vertical, working back to the sideline. This was a 10 yard gain. After giving up big yards on the quick, the backers lined up wide. We ran the zone read. The read player squatted to play the quarterback and the pistol back gained big yards. This is illustrated below.

It is very difficult to defend the inside zone read with 5 players. The more tackles the safeties made, the better. Every tackle they made was in the secondary. Because we played fast, the defense could not get a new call into the game, nor could they make an adjustment. They were chaotically trying to get their linebackers and secondary to change alignments, but no matter what they did, we had an advantage somewhere. 

Here is a video clip of the Inside Zone Read Concept being used at Nascar Tempo. The clips shows two plays. In the second clip you can see the defense trying to run a 12th player off the field. They are frantically trying to get a timeout. The crazy thing was this was not nearly as fast as we can play. That was our first game installing this! The amount of pressure you put on the defense is enormous! And, we don't have to guess whether we should call a run or a pass. We make a call and let the quarterback choose the best place to go! 

The greatest part of this is how simple it is to communicate. We can use one word calls that tell everyone the formation, play, and pass routes. You can use any word you want. Today's generation uses acronyms and processes things in shorter bursts. The days of having 9 word calls that told everyone what to do are long gone. We need to give them bits of information in short bursts. This allows them to play faster, and it allows your offense to play at a  pace so fast the defense cannot catch up. 

People ask me about whether their quarterback can do this. I tell them nearly every quarterback is capable of running this concept. We are throwing a pass we complete at about 98 percent to a good athlete in space. The quarterback simply needs to be trained on what he is looking for. They will make some mistakes early, but with experience they will be able to make these reads in their sleep.

This is just one of the many concepts you can use to build RPO's into your offense and play with great tempo. If you want to learn more, I have written two new books. I wrote a book RPO's and a book on Tempo. I want these books to be accessible without worrying about $$$. They are available as an apple iBook and on Amazon. The iBook version contains embedded video! These two books will revolutionize your offense! 

In my RPO book I describe in detail a systematic process to install RPO's. I go over first level, second level, third level, and multi-level reads. I show you how to scaffold the install and build a system that will fit what you are already doing. 

Here is a picture of the cover with some quotes from other coaches on the book:

Here is a link to the iBook version of my RPO book:
If you have an iPad or iPhone, buy the ibooks version! If you don't have an apple device, you can order the paperback version! It is available on Amazon!

Also, I have a Kindle version for sale on Amazon. Here is a link to that version: Kindle Version of Coach Vint's RPO Book on Amazon. The kindle version has everything but the video.

The other part of this equation is adding Tempo. A lot of coaches ask me to help them install different elements of tempo into their offense. The book I wrote will take you through a detailed, systematic process of building tempo into your existing offense. Here is a picture of what coaches are saying: 

The iBook version for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac contains over an hour of embedded video! I give you a systematic process to build tempo into your offense. I show you multiple ways to communicate your concepts, including sign boards! Here is a link to the iBooks version:

It is also available on Amazon if you have an Android or Windows device. You can find it here: Coach Vint's Book on Tempo on Amazon

Combining Tempo with RPO concepts will change the game of football for generations. Any offensive system can adapt these principles without changing the structure of you offense. The biggest issue many schools face is simply thinking they can only use RPO's part of the time. You never have to call a run again that isn't protected by a pass concept. 

I hope you have found something of value in this post! I wish you the best as you prepare for your season! 


  1. stupid question but what is the difference between rpo and zone read

  2. Zone Read is a run-run option where the QB either gives the ball to the RB, or keeps the ball himself based on the reaction of the DE. RPO's are run-pass options where the quarterback will give the ball or throw the ball based on a key defender. RPO's can be married to the inside zone read.