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The evolution of Run-Pass-Options in the NFL creates a learning curve for Ben Roethlisberger

The game of football is constantly evolving, and Ben Roethlisberger is getting a crash course on RPOs.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a game which is constantly evolving and changing. Whether it was the introduction to the forward pass, the shotgun offense, the Wildcat formation or the newest buzzword in football circles “RPOs”.

For those who don’t know, RPO stands for Run-Pass-Option, and this is a unique twist on how an offense will run their offense from the line of scrimmage. On any given play, the quarterback will have a choice between a run and pass play, but will choose between the two...sometimes it is a split-second decision.

Everyone has to be prepared, and everyone has to be on time for this style of offense to work, and for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger — it is still new.

New offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has implemented more RPOs into the offense than any other coordinator during the Roethlisberger era, and Roethlisberger spoke on Wednesday about how this is still a work-in-progress for him.

Roethlisberger spoke about RPOs during his Wednesday media availability.

“It seems to be the hot topic in football now. Whether it is the NFL or college sometimes it’s just prudent to try things. You can ask receivers to block guys that come down or you can ask them to run a route. If it’s open, you throw it. It’s a little new for me. We’ve done some of it in the past, but it is something that I have to get used to. I missed an early one to A.B. (Antonio Brown) just understanding how fast certain guys can get there. He gets there a lot quicker than JuJu Smith-Schuster did later, so it’s still going to take time for me to get used to it and perfect it. I am going to work at it though because it can be good, as we saw.”

Roethlisberger is trying to get accustomed to RPOs, but does he really like them?

“I just think it gives you options. It’s one of those things where you can hand the ball off with eight or nine in the box and beat your head against the wall sometimes. Or you can find a way to fake it and throw it to a guy if it’s open. When it works, it’s really good. When it doesn’t, we have to figure something out.”

With the weapons the Steelers have on offense, even without Le’Veon Bell, they are more than capable of utilizing RPOs to their advantage. It doesn’t mean it will be a large part of their offense, but history shows us Fichtner likes infusing these plays into his play call sheet on a weekly basis.

The Steelers’ offense, like many across the NFL, will take time to fully get clicking. Tony Dungy once said you don’t know what teams are good, or bad, until the month of October. In this instance, the Pittsburgh offense has many areas where they need to improve, and learning RPOs, and the timing of these plays, is certainly a part of the improvement process heading into the Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

As was evident in Week 1 when Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster for a huge catch-and-run, RPOs can be effective, but it the entire offense needs to be on the same page.

Check out Roethlisberger’s full media session below: