By Zach Garrett, Damon Wright and Coach Shawn Liotta
As we wind down to the last regular season game of Season v2.0, we have somewhat of a picture of what the playoffs will look like. Bored Ape FC and the Shoulda Been Stars have both locked up the 1 seeds in their respective divisions and are playing for nothing but pride in this upcoming week. However, outside of the Kingpins (sorry Pinheads) every team is still in the hunt for the final two playoff spots!
In the Ballerz division, a Knights of Degen win gets them in. If they lose, and 8oki wins, we will have FCF’s playoff tiebreaker, the football shootout to see which team will advance to the playoffs. The OG division has a bit more at stake since all 3 teams are still fighting for that last spot. If the Glacier Boyz win, they will enter into the FCF shootout with whoever wins the Zappers vs. Beasts game. But, if the Glacier Boyz can’t get the job done, the winner of the Zappers vs. Beasts will automatically advance to the playoffs.
With so much on the line for these teams headed into Week 7, fans should be aware of each of their team’s play-styles and the best way to attack each of the defenses. Coach Liotta introduced an explosive offensive playbook and man did we see it come to life last week. Coach gave us a little bit of insight about each team and what he believes the key to success is for them moving forward
The Bored Ape Football Club (BAFC) has been on a tear in their first season in FCF. BAFC suffered its first loss to 8OKI in Week 6, but still sits comfortably in the driver’s seat heading into the playoffs. BAFC clinched a playoff berth in Week 5 with a tight 24-22 victory against the Knights of Degen, who are currently sitting at second in the league. A lot of things can be attributed to BAFC’s success in Season v2.0, but one of the major keys to this team’s dominance is the utilization of the run-pass option (RPO), led by FCF’s #1 overall draft pick, DeAndre Francois.
Francois, who currently sits as FCF’s third leading rusher with 226 yards and 6 touchdowns, has utilized Coach Liotta’s expansion of the FCF playbook to the benefit of BAFC and FCF as a whole. Today, we will dive into why the RPO is so lethal and how these concepts have propelled BAFC to the top of the FCF:
As we are progressing towards the playoffs, one big question has been asked by fans in regard to play calling: When calling plays on the FCF app, I called a run play, but the quarterback ended up throwing the ball; why is that?
The answer is because the play is an RPO. While the primary option and foundation of the play is rooted in handing the ball off to the running back/super back, the quarterback has the freedom to pass the ball depending on the look that the defense is giving them. These slight alterations give fans and the team the highest possible chance to gain lots of yards and rack up touchdowns. Whether it is a run or a pass, these positive plays will still help to boost Fan IQ!
If you notice when the defense is stacking the box (4-5 defenders close to the line of scrimmage where the ball is snapped), the quarterback will probably opt to throw the ball instead of hand the ball off because it would be more advantageous to go through the air against a run-stopping defensive set. These run play alternatives are known as “reliefs” and allow FCF offenses the chance to dissect defenses in real time. You may also notice that receivers will not run the same routes that are on the play call screen and that is because the receivers have option routes based on the defense scheme. All that to say: Coach Liotta’s RPO implementation gives players and the fans numerous avenues to rack up tons of yards on the field. While the offense may not always follow the play call exactly as shown in the app, know that it is not because your play call is being ignored, but because there are attachments to account for specific defenses.
Another big piece of the RPO offense is creating space to provide lanes for runs and passes. In a lot of these relief concepts, the routes run by the receivers and tight ends serve to displace defenders and open lanes for the running back or quarterback to take advantage of an open running lane. For tight ends, this is typically implemented with a “fly” route where the tight end runs straight to the flat to take the defender out of the box.
Spacing is also crucial to open up options for the quarterback. As discussed in the last Xs and Os, concepts like the pop pass and jet sweep are more useful over the course of the game with proper spacing. These expanded gaps/wider spaces in the defenses can be created in many ways; but for fans, it is crucial that you understand your offensive personnel and how to expose these gaps in the defense to build upon the 1,294 total points already scored in Season v2.0. BAFC has utilized the RPO better than anyone this season. However, these strategic uses of the RPO can be translated to any and all play callers so be sure to keep an eye out for this concept when calling plays this weekend!
Coach Liotta gave us a little bit of insight on what he thinks of each team and how to best utilize each of the players to the best of their ability. Read below to see what Coach thinks of each team and how the fans can lead them to success on the field.
Bored Ape FC: Lean on Francois
Deondre Francois is a certified star in the FCF and should be used heavily in BAFC’s attack moving forward. Jakobie Baker is a nice complement in the run game and makes the defense second guess each play action. As long as the BAFC fans are spreading the field and making sure Francois gets his touches on the ground, as we’ve seen, this team is nearly unbeatable.
Shoulda Been Stars: Pick Them Apart
Coach Liotta mentioned that there are two styles of QB play that work in his offense. Slade Jarman fits into the drop back, stand in the pocket and pick the defense apart with the arm talent. He can be incorporated into the run game when needed, but the Stars shine brightest whenever Slade the Blade is gunning it to Calvin, T. Boykin, and the rest of the Stars WR core. As long as Jarman is reading the defense and making the right decisions, this team could make a deep run for the title.
Knights of Degen: Crouch and Run
Ed Crouch has the ability to take a game over, but his supporting cast is what gives this team a real chance at the title. The breakout star in Terrelle West gives Crouch the rest he needs and establishes the run. As long as fans continue to get the ball to West and allow Crouch to do what he does, KOD will be able to drive down the field and score at will.
8oki: Get The Kidd Going
Coach Liotta told us that 8oki fans have done one of the best jobs in the league at adapting to the style of play that the QB operates best in. Without Mitch Kidd at the helm, he doesn’t think that 8oki would have the chance they have now of getting into the playoffs. We saw in the Week 5 TD bomb that Kidd has the arm to make any throw on the field, but he doesn’t have the skills that BAFC or KOD QB’s have, and that’s what the fans have recognized. Getting Kidd settled in the game and allowing him to stand in the pocket and make his reads is what has made this team successful. It doesn’t hurt either that they have Joseph Boykin, one of the best WR’s in the FCF. Keep giving Kidd time in the pocket, and 8oki could find a way into the playoffs.
Glacier Boyz: Alleyne Is Key
We know that the Glacier Boyz have struggled throughout the year to find themselves a QB, but for now, Chris Barrett has done a good job at operating the offense and getting the ball to star receiver Andrew Jamiel. However, superback Brycen Alleyne is the key to getting this offense going. A healthy dose of Alleyne can help keep the defense on their toes in the run pass option and can give time for Barrett to make good throws. The Glacier Boyz are down, but not out, and if Brycen and Co. can keep it on the ground and get the space they need, they could find themselves in a good position to make some noise in the postseason.
Zappers: Lethal Combo
One of the most interesting combinations in the league Coach Liotta mentioned is Kelly Bryant and Johnny Manziel. We know if Manziel gives his best, he can be dangerous on the field but the addition of Bryant really gives this team a solid one-two punch for this team to lean on. Early on, it seemed like this team just could not find their rhythm, but they have been heating up with the help of James Harden and Terrance Williams. Allowing the QBs to have the option to run will give them ample opportunity to score and score often.
Beasts: WR’s Need the Ball
Alphonso Howard has established himself as QB1 for the Beasts, and his feet have definitely helped boost into that role. Coach Liotta told us this team is one of the most interesting because of their deep wide receiver core. Jordus “Cheatcode” Smith, Martavis Bryant and Lamarcus Caradine give Howard so many options to throw to, it’s very hard for defenses to keep track of everyone on the field. There will be mismatches on almost every play, and it’s up to Howard to identify those matchups and get those guys the ball to make a play.
Kingpins: Zone Read
Tirri Jones may be one of the most underrated players in the FCF and has shown to be one of the best runners in the league. Giving Jones the option to run keeps the defense in check and can allow him to dump the ball off to Rogers and the rest of the WR crew for the Kingpins. Even though they will definitely be playing their last game of the season on Saturday, they will have the opportunity to end on a high note and allow the FCF to give the Kingpins the respect they deserve.
Each team has their own special style of play, so fans should keep that in mind when calling the offense on Saturday. Coach Liotta said that he has been impressed with the fans awareness and feel for the game and says he is happy with what he has seen on the field thus far. “Giving the Power to the Fans has always been our goal, and it’s cool to see that they are identifying the strengths of their teams.” In this league, fans call the shots, and so far, it’s turned brand new teams into title contenders and elite competition throughout the FCF. Keep it up fans, the playoffs are almost here!