Madden 21: How to dominate with RPO plays (Run Pass Option) and confuse your opponent

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The Run/Pass Option (RPO) has increased in usage throughout the NFL since around 2017.

It was added to Madden for the first time last year, and again is a key part of Madden 21.


There are three types of RPO you can run. So let’s get down to running RPO in Madden 21.

What is RPO?

RPO stands for Run Pass Option and it's exactly what it says on the tin.

Prior to Madden 20, you defined a play before snapping the ball and it was a run or a pass.

Over the years, Madden followed the NFL by introducing 'option' plays.

READ MORE: Top 5 defensive playbooks in Madden 21

These plays allowed the user to hand off, or keep the ball with the QB. This is the next evolution of choice.


Just like in the NFL, you read the defense after the snap and work out if it's better for your team to run the pass, or pass the ball.

With great power, comes great responsibility. More casual gamers find it hard to keep up with the complexity of this choice - but fear not, we are here.

Where are they in the playbook?

RPO plays have their own placement in the Madden 21 playbooks.

The best route of finding them is through the Play Type and scrolling right until you see them together in their own section.

rsz madden 21 rpos

There are three types of RPO plays Read, Alert, and Peek.


They all have the same basic tenants but need to be understood separately to ensure we use them correctly.

READ MORE: Top 5 offensive playbooks in Madden 21

They have different defaults if you don't make a certain action, so make a note of this and practice, practice, practice.

Read RPO

rsz madden 21 rpo read

Defaults to QB Scramble

The Read RPO as its names suggest, means you have to read the defense correctly to get the benefit.


It's probably the most difficult of the RPO plays, as it has 3 options, not just 2.

You can look for the pass, hand off to the HB or keep on a QB scramble.

In Pre Snap mode, if you press LT/L2 you will see a defender with 'P' above their head. This is the person to read.

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You have a split second to read the defense and make a decision that benefits you.

The benefit is it gives you three ways to beat the defense, and it's virtually impossible to cover all of them in one play.

If you can master this approach consistently, it will lead to good results.

  • If you want to run the ball hold A/X.
  • If you want to pass, then press the button of the correlating receiver. 
  • Finally, for a QB scramble then just directionally run (RT/R2). If you do nothing the QB will scramble.

Alert RPO

rsz madden 21 rpo alert

Defaults to HB Rush

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Alert RPO plays are slightly different to the other plays.

It's a little simpler as it automatically hands the ball off to an HB if you don't make a choice, therefore meaning you only have one thing to focus on.

READ MORE: How to QB slide in Madden 21


However, this means if you aren't quick enough you miss the window.

There is no waiting for your WR to be open and should only be used in short-yardage situations.

  • If you want to run the ball don't press anything.
  • If you want to pass, then press the button of the correlating receiver

Peek RPO

rsz madden 21 rpo peek

Defaults to QB Pass(or scramble)

Peek RPO plays are the same as Read RPO, but without the complexity of the QB run option.


As with the other plays, you don't have long to read the defense.

Remember, in Pre Snap mode, if you press LT/L2 you will see a defender with 'P' above their head. This is the person to read.

With Peek RPO, if you don't do anything you default to passing.

This is significant as your offensive line continues to block in case of a rushing option and then when you do pass you will be penalized for illegal men down the field.

READ MORE: Best offensive money play in Madden 21 - with only one audible

If they blitz and bite on the HB, then you should pass the ball as that should mean the coverage has less men.

If that defender drops into coverage, you have the ability to run the ball knowing you should have more space and an open gap.

  • If you want to run the ball hold A/X.
  • If you want to pass, then press the button of the correlating receiver, this will happen if you don't press anything - but remember to do it quick enough to avoid the penalty flag. 

So that's how to run the RPO plays in Madden 20. These are incredibly useful plays to master as the defense cannot account for every option you without exposing a massive hole you can then take advantage of on another play. But remember, practice makes perfect!

READ MORE: How to get blitz pressure from ANY formation in Madden 21