Fitzgerald’s gripe about RPOs is legit, but it has nothing to do with communism. 

By Dan Gartland
September 11, 2018

The run-pass option (or RPO) is all the rage in football these days. You can see dozens of teams torturing defenses with the clever misdirections every Saturday, and teams like the Chiefs and Eagles have even introduced the concept to the NFL. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, though, isn’t as much of a fan.

The simplest explanation of the RPO is that it’s a type of play that gives the quarterback the option to throw a pass or hand off to his running back, depending on what the defense shows him at the snap. (Eagles coach Doug Pederson does a good job of explaining it here.) When run properly, it can slice through defenses with ease. 

Fitzgerald, though, takes issue with a loophole in the blocking rules that RPOs create as well as, uhh, the collective control of the means of production. 

“RPO is the purest form of communism. I don’t understand how offensive linemen can be downfield. It used to be when (an offensive lineman) tripped and fell down, it was illegal man downfield,” Fitzgerald said Tuesday. “Now if it’s just an uncovered lineman and you go 2.3 yards (downfield), it’s not a penalty. But if you go three yards it is and nobody can see it until after the ball is thrown.”

Fitzgerald’s gripe about linemen downfield is legitimate enough but it’s tough to see how Karl Marx factors into it. At least when John Calipari invoked communism a few years ago it made sense. 

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