Whenever a big new trend starts sweeping the NFL, you can usually bet that Madden will attempt to replicate it in some way. But Madden 19 appears to be the exception that proves the rule when it comes to the Run-Pass Option or "RPO."
When the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last year, many observers credited the RPO—a play in which the quarterback can choose between handing off or throwing to a receiver. This combination helped simplify reads for backup Nick Foles while keeping defenses off-balance throughout Philly's playoff run. Here's how it works in more detail:
A Run-Pass Option (RPO) is a called run play with a pass option. It can be a DE, a LB, or just a specific alignment the QB is looking for. The OL blocks for the run the entire way, and the QB makes a decision pre or post snap (depending on which variation is called) to run/throw. https://t.co/Uf0Uev7KHb— Mitchell Schwartz (@MitchSchwartz72) February 4, 2018
Here are the Philadelphia Eagles coaches breaking it all down.
The RPO was an extremely effective part of the Eagles gameplan; but important as it was, gameplay lead Clint Oldenburg says it won't feature in Madden 19. "We know that Run-Pass Option was a big thing in the Super Bowl this year and we wanted to get it in and supported so badly, but that's not going to happen in Madden 19 because it touches so many systems in terms of blocking, handoffs, throwing, and defensive reaction to both run and pass. So we were not able to get over that one and I think that's a mistake for us, but hopefully we will play catch up in the near future."
Leaving out the RPO might not be a bad idea, to be honest. Madden's development is well underway by the time the Super Bowl hits in February, and it's not easy to shoehorn such a major gameplay feature on short notice. The kickoff rule changes alone are already giving EA major headaches. Plain old Option plays have been a massive balance challenge for ages, so if EA can't make it work, it's probably best to not upset the gameplay.
Whatever the case, if you were hoping to replicate Philly's Super Bowl winning gameplan, you might have to start working on a new strategy. Happily, the Patriots strategy of throwing to their speedy running back in the flat is an old Madden standby that still works to this day.