Luke Getsy was brought back by the Green Bay Packers in 2019. Part of the reason was his excellent work with wide receivers, something he’d do as the new passing game coordinator. However, one key reason head coach Matt Lafleur wanted him back was the deep background he had in a run-pass option offense. Or RPOs, as they’re commonly called. Getsy’s mentor is longtime college coach Joe Moorhead who is widely considered one of the best RPO coaches in the game.
The run-pass option is a simple concept for those who don’t know. At the snap, the quarterback and running back begin an exchange. At this moment, the QB makes one of three decisions based on what he sees. Either he hands the ball off, he keeps the ball and throws, or keeps the ball and runs. It can be a difficult play to defend when executed properly. The Packers put it to great use over the past three years.
This is despite them never using it to its full potential.
There is a fascinating stat to consider here. Green Bay ran 104 RPOs from 2019 through 2021 where the quarterback kept the ball. No fewer than 101 of those plays saw Aaron Rodgers throw a pass. He only ran it three times during that entire stretch. It often worked because Rodgers is an all-time great passer, but one can safely assume he passed on some prime running opportunities.
Getsy knows that is going to change with Justin Fields. When you have a quarterback capable of running a 4.41 in the 40, it’s a safe bet he’ll be able to take it himself several times. Consider Lamar Jackson. He ran 119 run-pass options last season alone, with 63 resulting in passes and 54 resulting in runs. Those plays amassed 834 yards of total offense—a healthy seven yards per play.
RPO GODFATHER @BallCoachJoeMo
Saw a JoeMo play while recording live and went off on a tangent!
THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL: how college scheme has trickled to #NFL @geoffschwartz #bears #chicagobears #JustinFields #PennState #oregonducks #Oregon #quarterback #qb #nfl #dolphins pic.twitter.com/mkLypODjxJ
— Anderson Passing Academy (@APAQBs) November 18, 2021
Luke Getsy has to know Fields is born for RPOs.
The lack of run-pass option plays was among the many baffling ways Matt Nagy mishandled the former 1st round pick last year. Fields only ran or threw the ball 19 times in 12 games out of that formation. Even worse, he averaged 7.21 yards on those plays. Even better than Jackson. A coach with common sense would’ve worked harder to include more RPOs into the offense. Nagy refused to do it.
The reality is the former Bears head coach was ill-equipped to handle Fields. He had a specific type of offense he wanted to run. One where the quarterback could hang in the pocket and sling the ball everywhere. That is why he wanted to bench Fields for all of 2021. He knew only a veteran could handle the demands of that system. Luke Getsy doesn’t figure to be as rigid, which is already an improvement.
Two things will increase right away.
More play action and more RPOs, both of which Fields ran well last season. One can imagine the young coordinator is excited to see how much more the 23-year-old can accomplish with those packages since Rodgers barely ever used his legs in Green Bay. With that added dimension in Chicago, there is no telling how fun this offense could be.