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Jaguars Playbook: RPO’s help Jacksonville cruise past Chargers in Week 3

Jaguars change it up Week 3, using less pre-snap motion and more RPO’s

Jacksonville Jaguars v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

This series will analyze the 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars offense. We’ll create weekly play call sheets to see how one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL, Doug Pederson, calls a game. Next up: Week 3 vs Los Angeles Chargers

Doug Pederson diverted from previous Jacksonville Jaguars’ game plans — motion on nearly every play and more traditional play action — to introduce RPOs against a constantly changing Chargers defense. It took time to develop, but it worked.

The NFL is a weekly game. Matchups and tendencies are what drives game plans. And the Chargers defense was the most complicated scheme the Jaguars faced up to that point last season.

Often, the Chargers split their coverages. Meaning they were running two separate schemes; one on the left side and one on the right side. Usually the formation dictated how the Chargers split their coverage.

For example, whenever the Jaguars went to any 3x1 formation, the Chargers most likely locked up the single receiver in man-to-man coverage. This allowed them to run any coverage they wanted to the trips side.

Another thing the Chargers defense did extremely well was rotate on motion. A well-coached defense with a good game plan for pre-snap movement could have been one of the reasons the Jaguars went away from using motion as often as they had in the previous two weeks.

One of the biggest reasons to stray from pre-snap motion might have had to do with giving Trevor Lawrence less to think about. Knowing that what he was seeing before the snap was often going to change, Pederson might have tried to take more off his plate and let him cook post-snap; which he did.

Check the game plan out and see for yourself!

Run Pass Options

Football is a game of numbers. Oftentimes, a quarterbacks decision boils down to “Where do we outnumber the defense?” RPOs are really designed to make a quarterback's decision even easier. Having two options, one run and one pass, on a given play sets the offense up for success even before they leave the huddle.

RPOs are difficult to identify if you aren’t in on the play call. Deciphering how the offensive line is executing their blocking scheme can help determine if a play is in fact an RPO. Additionally, how quickly a receiver gets his eyes to the quarterback can help too.

In today’s NFL, referees are throwing more flags for illegal man downfield. This means an offensive lineman is attempting to block too far downfield; which by rule is more than one yard from the line of scrimmage. Of course, there is some leeway as everyone is moving after the snap.

So, if you see a lineman heading up to the second level (linebackers) to block on the run play as the quarterback throws it downfield, most likely the play call was an RPO.

Also, whenever you see a wide receiver slow play it off the LOS to run a route, most likely they just didn’t want to block on that play. However, if a receiver runs full speed off the LOS and looks for the ball immediately, that’s another good sign the play call was an RPO.

Why did Pederson determine Week 3 was a good time to pull out RPOs?

With the Chargers prone to giving different looks pre- and post-snap, this was a way to put Trevor Lawrence in position to succeed. Five or six men in the box, run the ball. Seven or more in the box, throw the ball. Then execute.

Breaking down James Robinson’s 50 yard touchdown run

(13) Big Trips Left Jab 97 Power

The danger for a defense being in Cover 0 is there is nobody beyond the second level. If everyone is blocked, and a running back breaks through, he’s off to the races.

Another huge issue for the Chargers is the linebackers having their eyes in the backfield. If they were reading their keys, the offensive guard pulling, they wouldn’t have taken themselves out of the play. Robinson’s jab step not only helped with the timing of the pulling guard, but gets the Chargers to overcommit to the weak side as well.

Pederson went with heavy personnel on this 4th & 1 play, using three tight ends. They caved in the whole left side. With the backside guard pulling to clean up anything left over, Robinson scampered 50 yards untouched.

Perfect play call against Cover 0 and perfect execution.

Next up: Week 4 vs Philadelphia Eagles