11 Oct 2013
The read option was a popular trend in 2012 and teams are using it more often (3.7 percent of plays as opposed to 1.4 percent last year), but it has not been as effective with the average gain dropping by 1.8 yards.
It's not a new idea in the NFL. What made it popular last season was that the Redskins, 49ers and Seahawks all made the playoffs with exciting new quarterbacks. None of those teams and quarterbacks are performing as well offensively as we expected to see and the read option has not been as successful for all three.
Now don't get me wrong. We should not credit the read option for their success last year or blame it for this season's shortcomings. One of the major themes in covering it should be that most teams, save for maybe the 2013 Eagles through five games, rarely ever use it in their offense.
Remember Ryan Tannehill's 26-yard run in New Orleans this season? That was a zone-read run and it was a very nice play. What wasn't nice was when Tannehill later ran a simple play-action pass that Tom Brady uses and ESPN's Jon Gruden credited that play to the read option, which is something Miami's ran exactly FOUR times in 2013.
For the read option to really be a significant part of an offense, the quarterback has to keep the ball, which is not happening as often this season. However, it's nearly impossible to keep these quarterbacks healthy when you expose them to hits as ball carriers. Even when executing the fake, the defenders are allowed to target the QB at the mesh point. He loses his usual protection.
Since we know passing offense is the most critical factor to success, and that a team needs a healthy starting quarterback to make the passing game work, then it's hard to see the read option as anything more than a slightly more effective Wildcat-type fad.
22 comments, Last at 14 Oct 2013, 4:16am by Borkowskowitz
Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.