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Defenses are obsessed with stopping the read option

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The 2013 offseason already has a theme.

Stop the read option.

We’ve heard it from coaches and from General Managers.  Defensive coordinators are pissed about the ability of quarterbacks to play a Jedi mind trick by simply putting the ball in the stomach of the tailback and then making a decision as to whether to let it go or take it back based on the movement of the defenders.

And so substantial time and effort is being devoted to cracking the code of game tape generated by players like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin III.

Ron Jaworski of ESPN echoed this reality in a segment with 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.

“I’ve probably spoke to 20 scouts today [at the West Virginia Pro Day workout] and what everyone is doing right now is preparing to stop this read option this whole offseason,” Jaworski said.  “Either the QB is going to get crushed or someone is going to stop it.  I think it’s going to be a combination of both.”

He added that Eagles coach Chip Kelly will not be able to run his Oregon offense at the NFL level.  “Categorically, it will not work,” Jaworski said.

The challenge for teams using the read option will be to predict what defenses will do to stop it, and then to take advantage of the openings that will emerge.  Unless they add more players on defense, adjusting to stop one specific type of attack will create vulnerabilities elsewhere.

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72 Responses to “Defenses are obsessed with stopping the read option”
  1. logicalvoicesays says: Mar 14, 2013 8:38 PM

    RGIII and Alfred Morris are UNSTOPPABLE under fair rules. The National Fixed League office and refs is our only obstacle.

  2. pilot2011 says: Mar 14, 2013 8:39 PM

    so does Newton not belong in the same breath as those guys? I guess not.

  3. mikebrownfaux says: Mar 14, 2013 8:43 PM

    Tim Tebow is upset no one thinks he can do the read option.

  4. bino82 says: Mar 14, 2013 8:44 PM

    Jaws has taken too many concussions in his playing days. He campaigns for Vick to stay with the Eagles because of Kelly’s system and now he says Kelly won’t be able to run his system. MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!

    I do agree with him, however. Foles needs to have a serious look and run the Patriots offense. Kelly referenced things the Patriots do in the press confrerence introducing James Casey. We’ll see…..

  5. flavordave says: Mar 14, 2013 8:45 PM

    what have I been telling all of you? You think I’m on here to just clown around? I’m trying to warn all of you. Chip is bringing a world of hurt on you all. And there’s simply nothing you can do about it.

  6. thirdistheworrd says: Mar 14, 2013 8:46 PM

    logicalvoicesays says: Mar 14, 2013 8:38 PM

    RGIII and Alfred Morris are UNSTOPPABLE under fair rules. The National Fixed League office and refs is our only obstacle.
    ________
    You all know that the only way to get rid of him is to responding to him right? And I know I’m kind of breaking my own rule here, but if we actually want this guy to stop, we’ve just got to ignore him, and all the fake “fan” copycats that are cropping up all over PFT.

  7. finsphan says: Mar 14, 2013 8:47 PM

    I got an idea, just pop the qb regardless of be hands it off or not, teams will have to make a decision on getting a few yards or getting their qb killed, most coaches other than shannahan will care more about their players.

  8. johnnyhambone says: Mar 14, 2013 8:47 PM

    Dick Lebeau has already figured out how to stop the read option

  9. Iknoweverything says: Mar 14, 2013 8:48 PM

    Dont have to worry about game planning for the Redskins anymore.

    1GoodKneeIII, is already done. Can’t be a quality QB in the league with only one good wheel.
    Overrated to begin with anyway.

    Too everyone outside of the East Coast biased media, it was VERY clear that Mr. Russell Wilson was the best rookie. It’s also clear to all the he is by far a better QB than either Luck or Griffin

  10. therealraider says: Mar 14, 2013 8:48 PM

    Penetrating DTs are gonna be worth their weight in gold.

  11. thecoachsoffice says: Mar 14, 2013 8:48 PM

    Jaws is right except for this: If the defense must assign someone to the QB on every running play, the offense gains a numerical advantage. You do not have to run the Oregon attack, simply make the QB a threat. Also, the league will not allow an assault on the QB.

  12. laxcoach37 says: Mar 14, 2013 8:49 PM

    It is not a Fad like the WildCat, but it will not be a long lasting strategy either. It is sound football, but it will only work until a star QB gets hurt… wait, that already happened ;)

  13. bert1913 says: Mar 14, 2013 8:51 PM

    to stop the read option you need 2 really good corners that can play man. this will allow teams to leave 8 in the box. (it doesn’t hurt to have a speedy defence too).

  14. TheWizard says: Mar 14, 2013 8:51 PM

    Hit the QB.

    Often, and hard.

    You’ll give up some plays, but it will pay off.

  15. Giantspunk213 says: Mar 14, 2013 8:52 PM

    A few years ago this article would’ve been titled “defenses are obsessed with stopping the wild cat formation”, it’s just another fad, pocket passers will never go outta style and will continue to win championships.

  16. shaunypoo says: Mar 14, 2013 8:52 PM

    finsphan said it, nail the qb a few times. I mean knock him stiff. He will either get tentative with the handoff or the coach will worry about getting his franchise player killed. It will result in bad play calling and fumbles.

  17. riderspantherssk says: Mar 14, 2013 8:52 PM

    Russell Wilson really isn’t a read-option QB, he spent college in pro style systems, the success of Newton, Kaepernick, et al. led to Seattle incorporating it into their offense.

  18. goducks52 says: Mar 14, 2013 8:58 PM

    Jaws is a moron. Why are people still so ignorant about the Oregon Offense that Chip is going to bring to the NFL? Since when did a power running game that utilizes overloaded blocking schemes NOT work in the NFL?

    Cracks me up that people think all you have to do is hit the QB to stop the read option. Yes, please dedicate a man or two to the QB, so that it is 10 on 10 or 10 on 9 blocking schemes at the point of attack. The defense used to have the advantage against the run because they didn’t have to worry about the statue pocket passers. Not anymore.

    I think there were people who said the forward pass, screen pass, draw, and West Coast Offense were “gimmicks” that would never work in the NFL too.

  19. trippymane says: Mar 14, 2013 8:59 PM

    Want to see how to stop the read option? Just look at the tape from the 2nd seahawks vs 49ers game kaepernick was a non factor

  20. robmar924 says: Mar 14, 2013 8:59 PM

    Redskins offense will just look like it did during the Browns game with Kirk Cousins (which was very effective). RG3 will be running more play action bootlegs and less pistol runs. I expect it to be a pretty smooth transition considering that was already half the playbook. Look for more scrambling runs out of bounds than college option stuff that got him hurt

  21. niners856 says: Mar 14, 2013 8:59 PM

    Defenses are planning all offseason to stop the read option, but forgetting that rg3, kaep, & wilson are all incredibly smart qbs with rocket arms. They’ll take what the defense gives em. All 3 can beat you by land or air.

  22. queensnyvegas says: Mar 14, 2013 9:05 PM

    THE REDSKINS WILL NEVER WIN THE SUPER BOWL IN THE 21ST CENTURY REDSKIN FANS BLAME LOCALVOICESAYS SIGNED THE FOOTBALL GODS #THEFOOTBALLGODS

  23. skeebo80 says: Mar 14, 2013 9:12 PM

    to stop the read option you need 2 really good corners that can play man. this will allow teams to leave 8 in the box. (it doesn’t hurt to have a speedy defence too).

    WELL SAID. I’ve been say the same thing all season. You need to be able to have BOTH safeties playing the run so you must have good corners. If you don’t the pass will kill you.

  24. 49ersandshivabowl says: Mar 14, 2013 9:16 PM

    What’s so funny, too, are the people who think that CK7, Wilson, RGiii or read-option first then throw quarterbacks. Take out the read option and they’re STILL top flight passers but not all top flight passers can come close to running the read-option. Big difference. The best part is that teams that are “obsessed” with stopping the read option will still have to dedicate LOTS of time to defending it and still not know if it’ll be used in the game.

  25. mikea311 says: Mar 14, 2013 9:19 PM

    doesn’t it stop itself when the QB gets hurt?

  26. billb49 says: Mar 14, 2013 9:21 PM

    Kaepernick ran on a designed rush or a read option less than 3% of the time he played last season.

  27. citizenstrange says: Mar 14, 2013 9:23 PM

    Defenses just have to be coached to take different angles. Seriously, it’s not rocket science.

  28. justintuckrule says: Mar 14, 2013 9:29 PM

    I actually think logicalvoices is one of the better posters on this site when he’s not posting his nonsense about the skins. Many of his other posts are very witty and well thought. I wish he’d commit to more of those because I find those insights very interesting

  29. nineroutsider says: Mar 14, 2013 9:33 PM

    Even if they can stop the read option, having a guy that can pass and run like Colin Kapernick still presents the same problem in any other formation; he can be ghost in a nano-second if you don’t keep him contained, gone to the house. The edge of your D has to stay set.

    In the shotgun he can be gone, in the I, singleback, any time. RG3, Kap, Wilson, and anyone else I’m forgetting are only getting better at passing and reading defenses. They can play any formation, pro or not. So if the read option is only a fad, these guys aren’t.

  30. boyshole25 says: Mar 14, 2013 9:37 PM

    Rg3 overrated? Bitch please

  31. fumblenuts says: Mar 14, 2013 9:37 PM

    Darrell Bevell WILL adjust accordingly. He is WELL aware of defenses trying to stop the read-option, and with the addition of Percy Harvin it will make it much more difficult for DC’s to figure the Hawks out.

  32. mattyk72 says: Mar 14, 2013 9:44 PM

    If all you have to do is hit the QB, why didn’t teams figure this out last year? Did it really take an entire season to come up with this brilliant strategy?

    The read option works so well with a QB like RGIII because he executes it so well.

  33. paredskinwarrior1985 says: Mar 14, 2013 9:47 PM

    Wilson began running the read option before Alex smith went down lol

  34. dowhatifeellike says: Mar 14, 2013 9:48 PM

    The free agents who have been signed so far say otherwise.

  35. dowhatifeellike says: Mar 14, 2013 9:50 PM

    flavordave says: Mar 14, 2013 8:45 PM

    what have I been telling all of you? You think I’m on here to just clown around? I’m trying to warn all of you. Chip is bringing a world of hurt on you all. And there’s simply nothing you can do about it.

    —–

    I didn’t realize Chip Kelly was going to be on the field. Maybe save your pontificating until after the roster has been rebuilt.

  36. peterswelling says: Mar 14, 2013 9:51 PM

    The NFL won’t have to worry about RG NO KNEE “Running” anything this next season. In 2014 he’ll be lucky to be able to”Run” the read zone offense at all. I am so thankful for Russel Wilson. It’s too bad the Redskins had to give all of those first round picks to a team in the Seahawks division though.

  37. flavordan says: Mar 14, 2013 9:52 PM

    what have I been telling all of you? You think I’m on here to just clown around? I’m trying to warn all of you. Chip is bringing a world of herp on you all. And there’s simply nothing you can derp about it.

  38. grandpoopah says: Mar 14, 2013 9:56 PM

    Knocking the crap out of Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton is not an easy thing to do, even for a linebacker. And knocking the crap out of ANY QB is pretty tough without getting flagged nowadays. The wildcat was a gimmick that really only worked in that one game when Miami upset New England. The read option is a legitimate weapon that we’ll see more teams sprinkle into their game plans, like they have with the spread in recent years.

  39. taintedlombardis says: Mar 14, 2013 10:00 PM

    Jaws is an idiot and RG3 is much better than Luck and Wilson. He was decimating the Seahawks defense till he got tweaked. Wilson needed an extremely tired defense and a turnover to put up any points…

  40. taintedlombardis says: Mar 14, 2013 10:00 PM

    RG3 rookie of the year. Nuff’ said.

  41. upperdecker19 says: Mar 14, 2013 10:04 PM

    I think that “flavordave” and “logicalvoicesays” need to send each other “pick me up” boquets.

  42. taintedlombardis says: Mar 14, 2013 10:13 PM

    Obsessed. That’s how scared they are of RG3. Obsessed.

  43. mrlaloosh says: Mar 14, 2013 10:16 PM

    Isn’t that how EVERY defense operates. If this gimmick worked it would be used by every team. There’ll be a lot of QB’s on IR. Book it.

  44. mazblast says: Mar 14, 2013 10:16 PM

    finsphan says: Mar 14, 2013 8:47 PM

    I got an idea, just pop the qb regardless of be hands it off or not, teams will have to make a decision on getting a few yards or getting their qb killed, most coaches other than shannahan will care more about their players.
    ——————————
    I agree 100%. DCs will tell their linemen and LBs, “If the quarterback hands it off on the read option, beat the he*l*l out of the quarterback, and if he keeps it, beat the he*l*l out of the quarterback. Pretty soon, Mr. Touchdown USA quarterback will be wobbling around like Ray Nitschke in the original “The Longest Yard”, and the backup QB will be peeing his pants.

    The weakness, of course, is that you’re leaving your secondary man-to-man when you commit to blowing up the running game. bert1913 is right on that count.

  45. unnamedxsource says: Mar 14, 2013 10:19 PM

    pilot2011 says: Mar 14, 2013 8:39 PM

    so does Newton not belong in the same breath as those guys? I guess not.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    You know that’s a great point, has Carolina used him in this manner? It would be interesting to see how he’d do in a read/option, his measurables and skill set would seem very similar to Kaepernick and RGIII.

  46. redskin1 says: Mar 14, 2013 10:19 PM

    TO I KNOWEVRYING YOU KNOW NOTHING

  47. jkaflagg says: Mar 14, 2013 10:21 PM

    Agree that Wilson is not really a read-option guy, just a very mobile and intelligent runner. Kaepernick ran the pistol at Nevada for 3 seasons and also has a good feel for when to get down. RG III – well, he was great last year but a shell of himself by playoff time.

    I agree the league will try and protect these guys, but at the end of the day they’re gonna take more hits, and while they’ll never admit it post-bountygate there will be a lot of defensive players who will feel like, if I take that guy out we’ll win….while football has changed a lot it’s still basically who can knock the snot out of the other guy, and if a QB runs out of his protective cocoon he’ll eventually pay the price.

  48. unnamedxsource says: Mar 14, 2013 10:22 PM

    I’m beginning to wonder if Harbaugh brought this style of play to the league to take advantage of the league’s “hands off” policy concerning quarterbacks…

  49. bluelifer says: Mar 14, 2013 10:30 PM

    This is exactly what all d coordinators do when there is something new and successful in the nfl. Look for the rest of the leauge to catch up to read option this year.

  50. skinsrollyou says: Mar 14, 2013 10:40 PM

    Seattle fans becoming as delusional as Philly and Dallas fans. And logicalvoice.

  51. skinsrollyou says: Mar 14, 2013 10:40 PM

    And just as annoying

  52. folkcrusader says: Mar 14, 2013 10:59 PM

    I have no doubt teams will figure out how to stop it. The question will still be when will they use it.

    Seattle was successful with it because they only used it 6-8 times a game and worst case you are giving the ball to beast mode. I am interested in seeing what it looks like when the options are Beast, Percy Harvin, and Russell Wilson. But I still don’t see it being used more then 8 times a game.

  53. dg0122 says: Mar 14, 2013 11:11 PM

    lets have a discussion about all the great veteran running qbs in the league…

    ok that was fast…

    RG3 is great but he got KTFO by a butt and almost got his leg snapped in half in his rookie season…

  54. jackericsson says: Mar 14, 2013 11:16 PM

    The weakness of the read option in college is the hits your QB takes. You are transferring the RB workload to the QB. Unfortunately, the QB isn’t built like a RB. In the pros- even with the QB two hand touch rules- the DE’s and OLB’s are bigger, stronger, and faster. With the QB being a ball carrier, destroy him every time he comes down the line. These QB bodies can only be planted into the turf only so many times before they breakdown. The key to a good read option offense is having a good backup QB to replace the starting QB while he heals.

  55. steelerben says: Mar 14, 2013 11:58 PM

    A disciplined 3-4 defense. Swapping responsibilities between the end and the linebacker to confuse the QB on who to read. It helps to have a strong corner on the play side who can cover man to man with zone on the far side of the formation.

    I can figure it out, so I’m assuming guys being paid millions to do this can as well.

  56. deetrain11 says: Mar 15, 2013 12:26 AM

    Does everyone forget that Cam Newton THREW for over 4,000 yards???

  57. deetrain11 says: Mar 15, 2013 12:28 AM

    With really only one good receiver on the roster!!

  58. gettingseattled says: Mar 15, 2013 12:28 AM

    Teams may be prepared to stop the read-option sets, however….offenses that are good at the read-option have already adapted, case in point the Seattle Seahawks. Try matching up against RW, Marshawn, and Percy in a wishbone read option……good luck. This is the new NFL…..and yet it’s one old look. Add Zach Miller chipping your DE and Golden/Sidney running wild in the back field……….it’s gonna get real frustrating, really fast for a lot of teams without a secondary. Btw, I hope those linebackers y’all got can run a 4.4….becaue our QB, RB, and swing man can.

  59. theclaim says: Mar 15, 2013 1:48 AM

    flavordave says:
    Mar 14, 2013 8:45 PM
    what have I been telling all of you? You think I’m on here to just clown around? I’m trying to warn all of you. Chip is bringing a world of hurt on you all. And there’s simply nothing you can do about it.

    Dave… Did you read the article ABOVE?
    He added that Eagles coach Chip Kelly will not be able to run his Oregon offense at the NFL level. “Categorically, it will not work,” Jaworski said.
    I shouldn’t need to tell you Jaws is an ARDENT Eagles worshipper, if JAWS says it won’t fly I think it may be your EAGLES in a world of hurt if he tries

  60. cumnuri83 says: Mar 15, 2013 5:39 AM

    i think logicalvoice is really mike florio, we all know you hate the skins dude, stop being a dick and get over your self

  61. macjacmccoy says: Mar 15, 2013 7:48 AM

    Guys lets not over celebrate RGIII, Kapernicks, or Wilsons accomplishments last year until they all do it again this year. Im not saying they all wont be just as good but their is a possibility they wont be. Its a common fact in sports that when a guy breaks out in 1 season they usually come back down to earth the next. Once opposing teams get used to them the things they did in their breakout year are harder to do and sometimes impossible to do. And some players have a hard time adjusting when the things they were successful at are no longer available to them.

    This time last year everyone was saying these same things about Cam but defenses figured him out and took away some of things he had the most success doing. He came down to earth in a big way. He managed to fight through it and had success but not at the same caliber. He was talked about as if he was a top 5 qb after his rookie year but a year later and his not even in the 10 ten conversation anymore. He has been leap frogged by Kap, RGIII, and Wilson.

    And the year before that Vick was 2nd runner up to Brady for MVP. People were talking about him in the same way. The best running qb in league history learned how to throw the ball? And he can still run like he did in his first few years in the league? He is unstoppable! But what happened? The same thing, opposing defenses watched what he did in the passing game the year prior and adjusted. They took away the things he had the most success with and he couldn’t adjust.

    So before touting all the success these new found sensations wound having in their 1st year as full time players, realize teams will adjust and be ready for them in their 2nd season as starters. And that “all of this has happened before and will happen again”

  62. iamedreed says: Mar 15, 2013 9:44 AM

    watch the ravens defense play the read option, we straight blow that thing up and hit the QB

    (RG3 was kept in check the whole game, kirk cousins beat us)

  63. httr21 says: Mar 15, 2013 11:38 AM

    RGIII will be the best QB to ever play the game. He will change the way people see our sport. He is the second coming… Be afraid be very affriad…

  64. musicman495 says: Mar 15, 2013 12:01 PM

    riderspantherssk says: Mar 14, 2013 8:52 PM

    Russell Wilson really isn’t a read-option QB, he spent college in pro style systems, the success of Newton, Kaepernick, et al. led to Seattle incorporating it into their offense.
    ————————————-
    Uh, an accurate post would read, “The success of RG3 and the Shanahans led to SF and Seattle incorporating the pistol formation and read option into their offense.” Newton was a non-factor and has mostly been forgotten.

  65. kwickett85 says: Mar 15, 2013 6:18 PM

    Thought it said the Dolphins lol but it says defenses. I’ll just shut up now.

  66. seadawgs72 says: Mar 16, 2013 8:00 AM

    Is that person seriously giving credit to Shanahan & Bob Griffith for the read option around the league? Apparently he doesn’t catch a lot of west coast football. Russell Wilson is not a read option qb. He is a qb that has the ability & occasionally runs the option. I hope he can say the same for Bob. With a bum knee his options are pretty much limited.
    The Shanahans should not be given credit for the creation of the pistol. The architect of that scheme was Chris Ault, the recently retired head coach of Nevada. Coincidentally Colin Kaepernick ran the pistol in Nevada for 4 years so I’m sure Bob studied plenty of his film.

  67. rg3skinsgetsome says: Mar 16, 2013 1:38 PM

    Even on one knee rg3 ran for 65 yards against cowboys at the end of the season with a rushing td.. he made d ware look silly on one leg, watch the tape and tell me I’m wrong.. there is no answer for pistol with qbs that run like rb and throw like bradys..you can stop them now and then but its the one play you lose contain on edge or get lazy/tired and they r gone…sure u can hit the qb ever play but u still have to get to the qb first just ask the giants how hard it is to stop skins pistol.. untill I see some one stop the number 1 ranked running offense in skins pistol, u guys can speculate all u want but it hasn’t happen yet.. dick had no answer either it was the 11 droped passes by the wr they led you to believe that.. it freezes inside lb and olb and safty all year because they just don’t know who is getting the ball..

  68. seadawgs72 says: Mar 16, 2013 3:25 PM

    I believe the reason Newton is being left out of most of these conversations is simply because he’s not a read option qb. I’ll rephrase; he doesn’t play in a read option offense. His rushes are out of improvisation, lack of down field targets, & plain ol’ running for his life. Not saying he wouldn’t thrive in that system. I’m sure the upcoming season will be a defining one for Newton.

  69. myosin10 says: Mar 16, 2013 4:06 PM

    Read option will be here for a long time. It makes defenses use practice time on it and less on other situations. Plus teams don’t run it every play so it is hard to stop especially with a guy like Kap who can throw it and run it! SF is back another dynasty is born!

  70. brucefan1 says: Mar 17, 2013 12:07 AM

    To the ladies & gentlemen this may concern, please get REAL.

    You can not stop the read-option by “crushing the quarterback” on every option play! The way the NFL protects its marquee players (i.e., QBs) they’ll NEVER allow defenses to just unload on a QB who does NOT have the ball in his hands – and the beauty of the option is in keeping the defense guessing whether he does or not.

    Once the suits on Park Ave get a whiff that certain defenses are planning on blasting QBs whether they’re carrying the ball or not, they will go all Bountygate on their @$$es, and put an end to all of that.

    Now, agreed, on the few times the kid actually DOES have the ball, all bets are off – but THEIR job is learning how to avoid the big hits. Ya CAN’T be a read-option QB if ya can’t do that. Rob Griffin is one guy who still has to prove he knows how to do that consistently, but he’s a smart guy. He’ll learn.

  71. righteous514 says: Mar 18, 2013 12:56 AM

    There are 4 teams: Carolina, San Fran, Washington, and Philadelphia who have QBs that could run it. 1/8th of the league. Not even any teams in the AFC. RGIII ran it more effectively although it started with Kaepernick at UNR.

    Vick, Cam and Wilson are all capable but hardly ever use it.

    I do not think that it should become an obsession at all. Play spy with the DE’s and call it a night. Hopefully your interior line and LB’s are skilled to stop the run up the gut. But not every defense has personnel to get the job done.

    It will be like the wildcat. Hot for a couple of years… by this time next year the hype will have died down dramatically.

  72. seadawgs72 says: Mar 19, 2013 3:25 AM

    Brucefan is absolutely right about, referring to bounty gate. In addition if it was that easy to blow up a read option qb it would’ve happened last year. I saw every Seahawk game & although Wilson took some sacks i only remember one got where the defender was able to really square up on him & that was in the playoffs (can’t remember if it was the skins or falcons game). The “crushing the qb”strategy is far too simplistic. Try again.

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