RPOs Define the 2018 Super Bowl Contenders - Which Is Good News for the Bears

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RPOs Define the 2018 Super Bowl Contenders – Which Is Good News for the Bears

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have never been known to run a “cutting edge” offense relative to the rest of the NFL, but Matt Nagy might just be here to change all that.

Run-pass option plays aren’t just new and hip in football, they happen to be quite successful for the league’s best teams. Andy Benoit of SI.com’s The MMQB recently separated the contenders and the pretenders, but made a note regarding what’s happening with RPOs that should be considered ahead of the 2018 season: “Run-pass options (RPOs) were the most-studied tactic by coaches this offseason, and they’ll surge in 2018,” Benoit writes. “But the revolution is bigger than just RPOs. More and more, offenses are designing plays to ­manipulate unblocked defenders: jet sweeps, fake reverse action, mis­direction screens and multi-option zone reads all accomplish this. The five teams that do that best: Eagles, Patriots, Chiefs, Saints and Rams.”

RPOs aren’t an entirely new concept in Chicago, but this is the type of information that should fill you with hope if you’re a Bears fan looking for something, anything, to breathe new life into the organization. Especially as, last year, each of the five teams Benoit mentions won their division, made the playoffs, and won at least 10 games. As for this season, four of those teams are considered contenders in 2018. Only the Chiefs, who have posted a winning record in each of the last five season (and have made the playoffs with 10+ wins in four of those five years) is predicted to be on the outside looking in – I wouldn’t rule out the Chiefs as contenders, but I digress.

While the Bears didn’t make the cut for Benoit, it’s worth noting that Chicago was the NFL’s best team running out of RPO action, averaging a league-best 8.1 yards per rushing attempt last season. Having quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s mobility as a threat along with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in the backfield, the Bears are well-positioned to continue their success on the ground. Where the offense needs to show improvement is when the ball goes in the air. The Bears were tied with the Browns in having a league-worst 3.4 yards per attempt on RPO passes. That number seems alarmingly low and repeating that in 2018 would be disastrous.

Back in June, tight end Trey Burton (who knows what RPOs are all about from his time with the Eagles) shared his belief that the Bears’ RPOs can be “unguardable” in 2018. And while that’s a high bar to clear, the Bears are already half-way there by being stellar in the running game. We’ll see if the passing game can make its way up the leaderboard and lift the Bears’ offense to new heights.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.