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Ravens get creative with run-pass option on offense

“RPO” has taken the NFL by storm and now it has landed in Baltimore.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Training Camp Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The run-pass option has taken the NFL by storm. When the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots played in Super Bowl earlier in 2018, the Eagles were able to take advantage of the run-pass option and win the title. Now the Baltimore Ravens will utilize more run-pass option concepts in their offense.

So what exactly is the run-pass option?

The run-pass option is usually a run play with the option of a pass. It begins with a read from the quarterback, which can be a pre-snap or post-snap read and depends on where a linebacker, defensive end or a specific alignment from the defense as a whole. A quarterback can hand the ball off, pass it or keep it to himself. The offensive line will block as if it is a run and fire off at the point of attack.

Usually, these type of plays are ran with a mobile quarterback. With Lamar Jackson being drafted in the first round in 2018, it was expected that he would be the one using the offense the most. However, Joe Flacco has been spotted using the run-pass option during practice.

“I think that’s honestly all good stuff,” Flacco said on Friday of the run-pass option . “It puts stress on defense. I think it opens up lanes for the running backs, so I think those are definitely good things when you pick to do them in the right spots.”

Flacco hasn’t been known as the most mobile of quarterbacks, especially in recent years dealing with a torn ACL (suffered during the 2015 regular season) and a back injury (suffered during the 2017 offseason). Even before the injury, Flacco hasn’t had than 100 rushing yards since the 2013 season, where he rushed for 131 yards and one touchdown.

He is now fully healthy for the first time since the 2014 season and could provide more of a threat with his feet. In the last few games of the 2017 season, Flacco ran the run-pass option and excelled. After throwing for 200+ yards in just four out of the first 11 games, Flacco was able to pass for 200+ yards in five consecutive games and completed nine touchdowns during that span.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has began to install the concept more heavily into Baltimore’s offense over the past year. During the first few days of training camp, all quarterbacks including Robert Griffin III and Josh Woodrum have learned how to run the offense.

“We did a little bit of it last year, and we’ve done it over the years,” Mornhinweg said on Sunday. “You’ve got good eyes, because we did install it a little bit earlier this year. It’s a little bit more part of the offense. You know, our base is this and we do these things and it makes the base very good. If you don’t do these things, you get slapped in the face when you [don’t do them well]. It’s part of this now instead of that.”

As for the offensive line play in the run-pass option, it has kept Baltimore’s defense off balance in practice. Blitzes will not be able to attack the same way because of the hard blocks downfield.

“I think that it takes the sting away from the whole defense,” left tackle Ronnie Stanley said of the RPO on Tuesday. “It gives them another thing to think about, to worry about all week, and I think it’s a great dynamic that we have in our offense.”

On a few particular plays, Flacco, Jackson and Griffin III have all decided to take off running. There have also been an inclusion of two quarterbacks on the field at the same. A few plays have included Flacco and Jackson, with the latter lined up in the slot. Griffin III and Jackson have swapped places at quarterback and slot receiver to give the defense different looks.

The run-pass option also been added in with the triple option, which gives the Ravens offense four different opportunities to attack opposing defenses.