Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

24 Jun 2013

Mandatory Monday: Keeping Their Options Open

Lots of option breakdowns!

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 24 Jun 2013

7 comments, Last at 26 Jun 2013, 3:12am by Jerry


by Dan in Philly (not verified) :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 2:07pm

I wonder about the effect the spread option will have on the QB position. Let's suppose that part of the astounding success the young guns have had relies upon the read option being less stoppable than we currently think. Let's suppose that with the read option, there is less reliance on throwing to be successful and more on athleticism.

If this is true, then you could see the QB position demanding more and more RB type players. Guys who rely upon not the ability to read defenses and place the ball with pinpoint accuracy 50 yards downfield, but guys who rely upon speed, quickness, and just sufficient throwing ability.

To me, if this does prove to be the case, I see the QB position becoming more fungible than it currently is. Similar to the RB position, it will become more common for players to succeed right out of college, and it will be less common to see QBs play into their 30s (ie, fewer Tom Brady and Peyton Mannings, more RG3s and Russell Wilsons). This might lead to less money for the QB position and a greater payday for other positions, smaller and more athletic defenses and OLs, and other ripples. It will be interesting in 5 years to see if the league has changed radically and if so, how many will discuss the inevitability of it all.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 2:43pm

To paraphrase your second paragraph: are we going to see Johnny Manziel?

I do wonder if we are going to see some NFL teams trying to run the read option with more emphasis on the run side than the pass, stockpiling option quarterbacks knowing that they're likely to get hurt. It might look a bit like the wildcat but with more of a pass threat.

I don't like that teams' chances of holding on to any half decent receivers though.

by Dan in Philly (not verified) :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 3:18pm

Johnny Maniel is a good example. He was a 3 star recruit, remember! Poor mechanics, lacking of prototypical height, and general worries about his dynamic high school game translating to the NFL. Well, he has proved himself in what's as close to the NFL minor leagues as possible. Who is to say it won't happen in the NFL, and such undersized, athletic QBs might not be already taking the league by storm. Are we in the middle of what, restrospectively, will prove to be a revolution at the position?

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 3:58pm

"Guys who rely upon not the ability to read defenses and place the ball with pinpoint accuracy 50 yards downfield, but guys who rely upon speed, quickness, and just sufficient throwing ability."

Sounds like the old days to me. Everything old becomes new again, I suppose.

by Jerry :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 7:01pm

If a QB has "just sufficient throwing ability," other attributes like an ability to run will help. The QBs whose throwing ability is more than just sufficient will still be at a premium, though. Ben Roethlisberger was able to take the Steelers to levels that Kordell Stewart wasn't, and that (generally) is unlikely to change.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 06/25/2013 - 8:27pm

However, in a read option based system where he was platooning with a Pat White and Tebow I think that Stewart might have been pretty dangerous. He was an incredible athlete and his passing reads would have been much easier in a read option system.

by Jerry :: Wed, 06/26/2013 - 3:12am

Kordell WAS pretty dangerous. He even quarterbacked a couple of conference championship games at home. Ultimately, though, an inability to hit open receivers downfield did him in.