What is an RPO offense and how will Bryce Young fit with the Carolina Panthers?
By Ricky Raines
How does Bryce Young fit into Carolina Panthers RPO scheme?
With the fundamental understanding of an RPO offense, now we can look at Bryce Young and how he projects as the critical decision-maker leading the Carolina Panthers system.
After we all had our minds blown by the big reveal of Young not being 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, we learned his superpower was less to do with physical imposition and more so with his mental acuity. That should absolutely translate to helping him successfully operate at the next level.
A benefit to implementing RPO looks as a component of an offense is that the defense should never have the numbers advantage against any play structure. That is tactically disarmed by proper decision-making.
With Young running the show, especially after Frank Reich compared his football IQ to that of Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, Panthers fans and teammates alike should feel very confident that the team will regularly be positioned to find success on offense.
Young’s aptitude to digest and retain a playbook should allow the coaches to be very crafty in developing high-level concepts that make the RPO looks multiple enough to impart incredible stress on the opponent’s defense.
Preparation and understanding of the defensive principles your opponent deploys are also critical. That in-depth knowledge of the personnel alignments and core scheme will help with correct decision-making for both pre-and-post snap RPO reads.
One part of Young’s game that could stand to improve is his footwork and lower half mechanics working in unison with his rapid processing. That can happen almost as a natural byproduct of certain looks in an RPO.
Once a quarterback engages for the potential handoff while making his read - especially when using the ‘ride and decide’ method - if he pulls back and decides to throw the ball, he should be in a perfect position to make a throw.
Mechanically, the quarterback makes the decision, flips his hips into his throwing position with both feet almost cemented in the ground, and lets it fly. There’s no deep drop back in the RPO structure to muddy footwork. The mechanics are quick and concise.
Accuracy, timing, and ball placement will also be imperative to the spacing aspect of RPO passing success. The concepts will be drawn up to put playmakers in open space for ample opportunities to generate yardage full steam ahead toward the end zone after the catch. Hitting wide receivers in stride and anticipating the open spots are vitally important.
Last but not least, is communication.
Clearly communicating the RPO concept goals Young and this offense will be tasked with operating, cannot be understated. And we should feel very good about the relationship between coach Thomas Brown, the rookie signal-caller, and the rest of this offensive unit.
This was explained perfectly by Jourdan Rodrique in a collaborative piece with Joe Person for The Athletic, discussing what Brown did well in Los Angeles and would be bringing to this Carolina football team.
"This offense has a complicated language for linemen and running backs, but (Thomas) Brown has communicated it really well to his players over the years as he has developed them."- Jourdan Rodrigue via The Athletic
As soon as this Carolina Panthers coaching staff feels confident enough to hand Young the keys to the shiny, new sportscar of a system, fans can expect a fun, diverse, and efficient offense. That’s sure to be a welcome manifesto after the hell they’ve traveled through to get here.