Run Pass Options are sweeping the football landscape. The goal of RPOs is to force the defense to defend the full width of the field. This spreads the defense and creates better match ups for the offense. One of the most effective ways to do this is with the Now Screen on the backside of the Outside Zone.
Now Screen RPO from the Outside Zone
The concept is relatively simple, the offense will run Outside Zone to the strength of the formation. If the defense leaves only one player on the backside receiver the Quarterback can fake the Outside Zone and throw the Now Screen opposite of the run. These two plays work so well together because of the dynamics of each play.
The key to the Outside Zone, as any coach who specializes in running the Outside Zone will tell you, is to get extra blockers at the point of attack so the offense can get the defense out flanked. This is so many teams that specialize in the Outside Zone rely heavily on shifts and unique formation. They are looking to get more blockers on the playside to seal the edge and create an edge for the runner.
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At the same time the Now Screen is best run with a limited amount of players. On the now screen the Wide Receiver will take three steps downfield and sell the Cornerback that he is running a deep route. On the third step he will plant and come back to the Quarterback. At the same time the Tackle on the Screen side will take a pass set and invite the defender to beat him outside. Once the defender has beat him to the outside, the tackle will release flat down the line at the Cornerback. His rule is to run through the downfield shoulder of the Cornerback. The Wide Receiver is responsible for coming tight to this block to stop the defender from sneaking between the receiver and the block and make a play on the ball.
By combining these two plays the offense leverages the strength of each play. The formation can add as many players to the frontside of the play as they like while leaving the backside Wide Receiver by himself. If the defense decides to honor the strength of the formation and overload for the Outside Zone it will leave the Wide Receiver one on one vs. a defender. This isolation, combined with the run flow to bring the linebackers to the strength of the formation, puts the offense at a huge advantage.
On the other hand, if the defense is more concerned about the single receiver they will allocate more defenders to stop this play. This might mean that they do not rotate the coverage over to the strength and give the offense a numbers advantage at the point of attack. The other effect this play will have is to slow the linebackers from pursuing the run from the backside which creates a cutback lane for the runner.
By combining these simple plays the coordinator can create a scenario where the defense must defend, and honor, the full width of the field. If they are more worried about the single receiver the strength of the formation will allow the offense to run the outside zone effectively. If the defense starts to overload the strength of the formation the Quarterback can quickly get the ball to the single receiver. This is one of the few plays that truly forces the defense to honor the full field.
(See Also) The RPO Cheat Code