Born in the NFA: The R4 System (Part 2)


Born in the NFA: The R4 System (Part 2)

Part 1 of the R4 System explained how NFA Master Coach and Director of Product Development Dub Maddox and NFA Founder/President Darin Slack came up with the innovative idea after the 2006 football season.

In Part 2, let’s look at why R4 is so effective.

In addition to his stellar work with NFA, Maddox has served as the Offensive Coordinator at Jenks High School in Oklahoma since 2010. From 2006-09, he was the Trojans’ Quarterback Coach/Passing Game Coordinator.

A nationally known football powerhouse, Jenks has won 14 state championships since 1979, including back-to-back titles in 2012-13.

In 2007, Maddox implemented the R4 System into the Trojans’ offense. “That season, we just shattered every quarterback record in our program,” he said. “We set the all-time state scoring record that year, we had a 73 percent completion percentage. Our numbers just went through the roof, and it was credited to that process.”

Looking at even more superlative numbers generated under the R4 System, Jenks set an Oklahoma 6A scoring record with 53.4 points per game in 2010, and the Trojans established the state’s all-time rushing record of 3,884 total yards the following season.

Not only is the R4 System highly effective – Jenks averaged 39 points per game this past season while going 14-0 and being ranked No. 14 nationally by USA Today, – it is not overly complicated. R4 stands for: Rhythm, Read, Rush and Release.

“The words create buckets for the Coach, quarterbacks and wide receivers that will help them organize routes by their characteristics of timing and space,” Maddox said. “The understanding of the Rhythm, Read, Rush, Release structure gives them the capability to better sync wide receiver routes, quarterback drops, and the mental decision making in a rhythmic progression that is in sequence with the timeline of the play.”

The R4 System is an especially effective tool against modern-day defenses.

Blazing a new trail

“With the R4, you’re able to read the reality of what you’re seeing,” Maddox said. “The old way of doing things in the quarterback world was everything was pre-snap reads. You get your pre-snap read, you make your decision, read one guy and throw it opposite of where he goes. The problem is, defenses have evolved where they disguise coverages so well and they pattern read coverages now.

“So, if you don’t have the ability to process in the three seconds after the play, the defense is winning. What the R4 system does is it allows you to read the reality of what’s happening based on the accelerators we identified; the non-negotiables we’ve identified that lets the quarterback know what to look for.”

Once the offense learns and practices the R4 System, decisions can be made quickly and that helps negate much of the pressure – and mistakes – that often comes with playing in front of a hostile crowd or emotional type game. The quarterback and the rest of the offense can run through the R4 buckets and know what to do.

“For example, with inside receivers, inside slot guys, the first accelerator the defense is trying to use against us is collision,” Maddox said. “If their No. 1 job is to collision an inside receiver, that’s their weapon. Our quarterback and receivers now know that if inside receiver gets collisioned on a play, do not stay on that guy, come off.

“That’s an accelerator to go to another guy in the progression,” Maddox continued. “Basically, we’re taking what they’re using against us and the quarterback is using against them so he can buy back time and find the more open guy. And it helps the receivers because they know what the defense is trying to do, and that’s what the quarterback is using to determine if they’re going to stay on them or not. They know do a much better job of avoiding that collision by using different releases, using different spins.”

Catching on

Jenks High school started using the R4 in 2007 and other prep programs started noticing the huge success.

“It’s starting to take and grab a niche across the country,” Maddox said. “A lot of programs and people are having success with it. It’s a really good tool for coaches and quarterbacks to use to increase their offensive production on the field.”

And to think, the R4 System was born because Maddox wanted to know how to teach a quarterback “What open is.”

“What we created was a common language and we identified a process that can be overlaid over any passing play and a quarterback can run and can know where to go, know when to go and know the whys behind what he’s looking at because this system encompasses everything that matters most in the game of football,” Maddox said. “It’s kind of like the iPhone. People don’t know what they needed until you show them. We were going so against the mainstream of football and how passing plays are taught. I think the reason why we’ve had so much success is because the process teaches the way the mind and the body works and we deal with the non-negotiables.”

As Jenks continues to win state championships and establish offensive records, look for higher-level football coaches to start taking a closer look at the R4 System.

“College and pros are so ingrained in what they do, and they’re so closed off to outsiders,” Maddox said. “We’re kind of the outlier out there … ‘Who are you to tell us you found a better way?’ What’s happening is when you watch our film, you’re seeing 16-, 17-year old common kids do things it takes years for NFL guys to do. We’ll read them full fill progressions in under three seconds and we’re finding the open guy under pressure with just common kids. Imagine if we had the talent that those guys are driving with.”

NFA has been teaching the R4 System since its inception, and the results have been predictably positive.

“The feedback has been off the charts,” Maddox said. “And the last four years, we’ve run the R4 concept camp in Fairfax, Virginia. We’re doing it again at the end of April, and it fills up really quick. The kids walk out of that camp and it’s like they’ve been given a new pair of glasses. The R4 is an operating system like Microsoft Windows is for computers, it makes it run better. The R4 goes beyond anything that’s ever been developed before because it can be used in any offense.”


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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University