Eric Weddle seems to think so.
He’s the Ravens’ safety, the five-time Pro Bowler who played nine seasons in San Diego before moving to Baltimore.
Speaking at training camp, he touched on the NFL’s latest offensive trend, which the Eagles used successfully last season.
“I think in five years, it’s going to be out,” Weddle said. “I think it’s just another phase.”
Weddle, who is in his 12th NFL season, sees RPOs as fad — one that opponents will get used to defending.
“It’s just a revolving door,” Weddle said. “It’s just like the Wildcat, and the quarterback run game, yada, yada, yada. Teams that run the ball and take shots are usually the hard teams to beat.”
I don’t think he’s wrong. NFL offense is cyclical. He mentions the Wildcat fad, which is gone. Chip Kelly’s up-tempo 2013 offense quickly devolved into something predictable and stagnant. Both of those concepts had success initially before petering out.
The Eagles didn’t use run/pass option as the foundation of their offense, but they sprinkled it in to mix and match their looks and keep defenses honest. That’s really what made the team so good last season, was the usage of different offensive concepts to create variety and flexibility, stuff like these two plays on the critical third quarter game winning drive in the first playoff game:
The Chiefs used RPO last season with Alex Smith. Maybe Washington incorporates some of that this year. The Cowboys had similar success with those calls in 2016 when Dak Prescott was a rookie.
All of this really is just a continued evolution of the college shotgun spread offense, which introduced the simple read-option more than two decades ago. Coaches like Gus Malzahn and Rich Rodriguez and Big 12 offensive coordinators were using these looks with Cam Newton and Pat White and Andy Dalton and Vince Young, some of which translated to the NFL and some that didn’t.
So I don’t know if the RPO will ever be the cornerstone of any NFL offense, but you’ll probably see more teams use it this season before defenses adjust and we cycle through to the next wrinkle in play design. The NFL is still a pass-first league, and when you have elite quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Drew Brees cycling through their progressions rapidly, it feels somewhat vanilla to dumb down play-calling to the reading of a defensive end or outside linebacker.
Knowing Doug Pederson, he’ll probably be scouring college football looking for new designs, trying to stay ahead of the curve. Weddle is probably right when he says it’s “just a revolving door,” but I do enjoy seeing plays like this at the pro level: