The NFL & the Read Option QB:
Here we go, 1 month from the draft and everybody is looking for the next RG3, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton. The mobile QB that runs the read option that can lead a franchise to the promise land. I am here to tell you that Mike Tomlin head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers said correctly recently; “the read option QB is just the flavor of the month!” It is a fad that is here now and will be gone soon enough. The Philadelphia Eagles have mortgaged their future in hiring Chip Kelly away from Oregon to bring him into the NFL to run his high octane read option offense with plays being run every 13 seconds!
I am of the belief that Mike Tomlin’s words will proof to be prophetic. RG3 and his knee injury last year against the Ravens is just the start of the injured reserve list being filled with these high dollar QB’s that run the read option. These guys will riddle the IR next season. NFL defensive coordinators have long stood up to all of these flavors of the month and have issued an answer that ultimately will make this too disappear. It will be a forgotten fad, almost as quick as “Tebow mania” and this “Wildcat” offense has come and gone. Remember Ronnie Brown and the Miami Dolphins under Tony Saprano. One season of success with the Wildcat, duplicated by everyone and now all but gone! How about Tebow mania? I am a fan of Tim Tebow and what he stands for. He has proven that he is a football player. But is he a QB in the NFL?
You see, Tomlin like most defensive guys, understand that the read option is a numbers game in the box as well as a decision making instinct by a QB. Lets talk about the two of these.
Numbers in the box by the Defense vs. PG of the Offense:
The offensive (PG) personnel group preference will be either 10-PG or 11-PG. With the talented TE’s in the NFL today teams that commit to the read option will have to find a way to run the offense and still incorporate the TE. Look at the 49ers and Vernon Davis when Kaepernick took over. He all but disappeared until the Falcons forgot about him in the NFC Championship game. OC’s are going to have to figure out a way to have the TE fit into this read option package or just do what Chip Kelly does and have a big WR removed from the box that replaces the the hand in the grass TE. I do not think the NFL fans are ready to say goodbye to the Tony Gonzalez’s. Is the NFL prepared to make the TE position become like
the FB position, a situational position and a transient player. I do not think so! There are too many fantastic TE type players in the NFL that just fit into the game and make the game better. Look at New England, they attempt to put 3 TE’s on the field at times to make a defense adjust. Back to the numbers game! I am in agreement with Tomlin, the NFL is not prepared to turn the NFL game into a read option 10-PG game full of WR’s, DB’s and hybrid players on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball in order to provide the correct match up in all of the variety of situations that occur in an NFL game. Fans of this should go to support the Arena game.
11-PG and the Defensive answer:
11-PG will provide a 7-man box for defenses. It will also provide for the traditional proto-type NFL players: LB’s, DE’s & Nickel backs. Nobody wants to see the NFL game go to 10-PG all of the time with 6 defense backs on the field, 4 WR’s on offense and a RB & QB running the zone read. Why, because this has been tried in the NFL. No, not the read option, but 10-PG and the Run-in-Shoot! Remember Mouse Davis, Warren Moon and the Houston Oilers. Yes, 10-PG, 50 short timing passes per game, high scoring, high flying, crowd pleasing offenses that have come and gone. The tempo of the game was wrong. The game was too long and defenses adjusted to take away the quick passing game the run-in-shoot provided. Again, this may be good for Canada (CFL) or Arena, but not the NFL. Defensive Coordinators are too good and with an off-season to prepare you will see what happens. Do not get me wrong, Warren Moon is one of the greatest QB’s to have ever played the game. That is the Warren Moon of the Minnesota Vikings. But, the evolution of the defensive line player that we have today has all but removed this type of offense.
Here is the wildcard for the offenses that last year was overlooked as we saw very good young QB’s lead their teams with the read option and their band wagons become overloaded. With a TE in the game the defenses will be able to play a 7-man box. With a 7-man box the defenses will be able to provide the offenses with the defensive schemes, like gap-exchange, ATF’s (adjustments to formations), BTF’s (bltz the formations), that will force these read option QB’s to have to make the split second decisions required all the while in the back of their head understanding that their is a freight train of a player assigned to end their Sunday afternoon. Defensive coordinators and defensive players will challenge the courage of the read option QB. They will also challenge the GM’s and front offices to draft or trade for a QB that is similar to their starter and allocate big %’s of salary cap space to the QB position, 2-deep!
Mike Tomlin is correct, this is a fad and I predict that this year we will see many of these read option QB’s taking hits that will make head coaches, general managers, team owners and fans that like this style of football cringe. Me, I will enjoy the physical approach that defenses will dial up this September to quiet the cheers of these offense minded owners that hire play callers as head coaches and expect to be a complete football team. It is March and I am already ready to get after it!
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