“Unguardable” isn’t a word often associated with the Chicago Bears’ offense, but it’s what was thrown out there by new tight end Trey Burton regarding a new-ish wrinkle that offense Matt Nagy has brought with him.
“They’re unguardable,” Burton said, via JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. “The RPOs, when we get to the line of scrimmage and are able to check to certain plays based on coverages, man, you make it unguardable.” Unguardable? Unguardable.
Run-pass options plays – or RPOs, as they are most often referred – are designed to give the quarterback the option to run or pass depending on what he sees from a given defense after the snap. RPOs were increasingly used when Nagy was calling plays for the Kansas City Chiefs offense late last season, and will likely play a major role in how the Bears offense operates moving forward.
Because of the defense’s tendency to commit one way or another (i.e. preventing the pass or run), RPOs are difficult to stop when executed properly. Hopefully, then, the Bears can benefit from a head coach with an affection for them. Indeed, it would be quite the change of pace (what else is new?).
The Bears used RPOs sparingly in 2017 when Dowell Loggains was calling the plays. In fact, it was notable when it did happen. For example, Mitch Trubisky’s first career touchdown run came on an RPO. Runs like that are made possible because of touchdown scores like this from Jordan Howard.
To be fair, Chicago is better equipped to run RPOs now than it was at this time last year with an athletic quarterback like Trubisky under center, a reliable running back in Howard in the backfield, and playmakers including Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller lining up elsewhere, so we can’t just blame Loggains – but that’s besides the point.
Because today, let’s be sure not to leave TE Trey Burton out of the mix, because he seems to know the system well and how it looks when it reaches peak efficiency: “The old way of NFL, you line up and you run this play no matter how many guys are in the box, no matter what coverage it is,” Burton explained. “So we’re evolving the game and the defensive guys can never be right no matter what they do.”
The implementation of RPO plays represents a step away from what the Bears had been running in recent years and figures to be more than just window dressing as it had been treated by last year’s offense. Just add it to the list of things to be excited about when it comes to Chicago football in 2018.