Falcons coaches spreading read-option plans


With offseason work time limited like never before, teams have to be focused on what they can install during the offseason.

So when a day is devoted to one thing, it’s obviously important.

The Falcons have been careful to study college defenses as they work up a plan to counteract the pistol and read-option stuff they’ve seen in the past from the Panthers and 49ers and others. Coaches studied with the Clemson staff, and began sending out instructions to players.

We’ve already put one day in the books, where it was pretty much just about the way we are defending the read-option,” Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re heading in that direction.”

In addition to two against the Panthers and Cam Newton, the Falcons will also play against the 49ers, Seahawks and Redskins, all of whom employ some degree of the system.

That’s 30 percent of their schedule, which is why the time spent is necessary.

“We’re definitely crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s because the league is kind of coming to that, with these athletic quarterbacks,” Weatherspoon said. “It’s kind of becoming a little bit like college in that aspect and some teams are multiple [threats]. They do the regular, traditional-style offenses as well as going to the pistol and the read-option. That’s something that you really have to focus on.”

How the read-option is able to last (or not) where the Wildcat did not will be one of the intriguing storylines of the coming season.

But rest assured, if it continues, it won’t be because opponents are unprepared.

27 responses to “Falcons coaches spreading read-option plans

  1. As a Niners fan this worries me but I also know our coach will look just as hard to add wrinkles to this Offense. It’s worth nothing that if you look at what we do on Offense, 99% of the pub and attention from the media is placed on the the so called spread,zone,read options but in actuality our running game is the catalyst for this. We have some of the most well designed interior runs of any team utilizing the wham blocks. Essentially, the package included skill players that could block and catch, every formation was a “max protect” formation but ALSO a flex package that could stretch the field, there is power and speed on the field at all times for the Niners.

  2. they seemed like they did a pretty good job against the read option against Seattle and San Fran.

    the only reason they got back in it was because Russell Wilson went ham in the fourth and San Fran had to basically abandon the read-option all together

  3. Falcons did a good job against the 49ers holding dude to 7 yards rushing and 224 yards passing. What they didnt have was the cover on the TE which is why they went 2 CB’s with the first two draft picks. Defenses will catch up to it thie year.

  4. Yeah, because your strategy worked against the 49ers. Kaepernick only has 1 rushing attempt the entire game and picked you apart through the air and by handing it off. Keep dreaming ATL.

  5. pathsovglory says: May 7, 2013 12:36 PM

    they seemed like they did a pretty good job against the read option against Seattle and San Fran.

    the only reason they got back in it was because Russell Wilson went ham in the fourth and San Fran had to basically abandon the read-option all together
    Not sure what game(s) you were watching but the 49ers did not abandon their game plan.
    The whole purpose of the read option is to create OPTIONS.
    And its San Francisco, not San Fran.

  6. The Read-Option is a fad, just like the Wildcat. Defenses will figure it out and exploit you. Enjoy it while it lasts

  7. One of the things I find funny is that everyone assumes that because teams may stop the read option then all those athletic quarterbacks will fail.
    However, other than the redskins no team employed the pistol/read option as a primary go to design. The niners ran it 4.7percent of the time and the seahawks 5.6 percent while the redskins were in the 15 percentile as well. The other issue is that often in the read option the ball just goes right to the running back and the quarterback does nothing with it.
    All those people assuming that you can just hit the quarterback everytime will be sorely dissapointed when they get roughing the quarterback penalties left and right.

    I would love an article that acutally does some in depth analysis about the read option and its quaterbacks tendencies to use it rather than just splurting off with gossip and unsupported statements of fact.


  8. You can’t abandon read-option when you didn’t even really run it.

    Kaepernick didn’t even run an actual running play in the NFC Championship game.

    He had 2 carries for 21 yards. He had 1 big 23 yard scramble when the pocket broke down. Same with the 2 yard lost, tried to get out but was tackled.

    Falcons were too busy watching kaepernick thinking he would run, when he was throwing it and have Gore pounded it out.

  9. The Falcons did stop the read option.

    They just didn’t have the personel to defend the passing game while the 49ers were lined up as if they were going to run the read option. It was smart for the 49ers to employ this method and they took advantage of mismatches by putting Vernon Davis in the backfield.

    As for the Seahawks game, the Falcons got too complacent with a big lead. Remember, they were up 20-0 at half-time, so the Hawks had to abandon the read-option. Russell Wilson’s rush yards came on plays that were not designed to be runs.

  10. blacknole08 says:
    May 7, 2013 12:55 PM
    The Falcons did stop the read option.


    Wow genius! The read-option is more than just running the ball. You would think Def Cords would have been able to figure it out by now.

  11. Just because the 49ers didn’t run Kaepernick doesn’t mean the read option wasn’t a factor. He took a lot of snaps in formations that could use the read option and he handed off a lot of shotgun snaps.

    Proving that your QB can keep it, and then getting into that formation, forces opponents to account for the QB as a running threat. 49ers probably identified that the opposing defense was accounting for Colin so they took advantage of the other matchups that this defense provided.

    What teams mainly need to do is develop more complex schemes around the read option to stop it. Problem is that most teams have one or two ways that they defend the read option, which allows the opponent to have their way. Teams need to have multiple fronts they use, disguised coverages, gap blitzes, corner blitzes, etc. Like they need an arsenal of defenses so that when a team gets in the formation they really have no idea what is coming.

    But you have to spend time to practice various read option defenses and that is what this is about. A more complex defense better designed for that formation, rather than one or two techniques you use.

  12. Curious why they would do this but it makes sense since they have the NFC West as the intra-conference teams on the schedule plus two against Carolina. That’s at least two very tough and two somewhat harder games they could need in the win column.

  13. The read option is gimmicky not unlike the wildcat. Defenses will figure this out and QBs that are not elite at throwing but make plays with their legs will be brought back down to earth (Wilson, Kaepernick, RGIII, etc) Not saying these guys don’t have an arm, they just need work in the pocket.

  14. I do not understand how anyone who watched the 49ers-Falcons NFC Championship Game can say the San Francisco 49ers abandoned the Read-Option. I think if you watched the game you would have seen that the 49ers ran the read-option throughout the game and the Falcons played the QB pretty well. They always sent a guy to prevent the QB from running. The problem the Falcons faced in that game was that the 49ers RB had a pretty good day. The 49ers QB saw how they were playing him so he simply handed the ball off to his RB on almost every read-option play. You cannot say the 49ers abandoned the read-option because their QB did not run. The read-option offense gives you a chance to choose between a QB run, handing off to the RB or a passing play.

  15. This “college style offense” fad is just that and will be history quickly. This is the NFL and pocket passers rule.

  16. Falcons didn’t stop the Read Option against the 49ers they just minimized the damage.

    They made absolute sure Kaepernick didn’t beat them outside which worked but all he did was hand it off and they got gashed on the inside.

    The way you stop the Read Option is you force the QB to option the ball inside to the RB and the defensive line must win the battle up front and clog up the running lanes to make the tackle.

  17. I think I would turn my quickest, fastest, hardest hitting defensive player loose directly on the QB everytime they lined up in it. (formation) By the end of the game he would not be able to read the damn funny paper much less an option.

  18. inyofaceagain says:
    May 7, 2013 1:16 PM
    The read option is gimmicky not unlike the wildcat. Defenses will figure this out and QBs that are not elite at throwing but make plays with their legs will be brought back down to earth (Wilson, Kaepernick, RGIII, etc) Not saying these guys don’t have an arm, they just need work in the pocket.

    And you need work in the film room, RGII PASSER rating 104

  19. Just put in the tape of Redskins v Bengals week 3. The answers on how to stop the option is all there.

  20. sportsbastard says:
    May 7, 2013 2:47 PM
    Maybe they should watch tape of the Rams defense, Fisher and crew stopped the hags and whiners better than anyone else.

    Maybe YOU should watch the tape.

    In the first game between the Rams and Seahawks (@ St Louis), the Seahawks hadn’t implemented the read-option yet and were running a conservative “power run” offense. Marshawn Lynch brutalized the Rams defense for 120 yards, even though Seattle was obviously going with the run on every down. Seattle gave up 3 INTs, 2 of those being directly the fault of tipped passes (on the WRs), and St Louis still barely pulled out that win. You can thank a blown coverage on special teams by Seattle that led to a TD on a fake FG by the Rams, and a monster 60 yard FG from “Young GZ”. That game had nothing to do with defending the read option.

    In the second matchup (@ Seattle), the Seahawks destroyed St Louis with the read option. Russell Wilson tied the all-time rookie TD record, and would have broken it if he had not run into the end zone for a TD late in the game. Wilson had 10 carries for 58 yards and a rushing TD, and Lynch ran for another 100. Lynch averaged 5.8 yards per carry, and Wilson averaged 5.6 yards per carry.

    So I guess I don’t see how any NFL team would want to copy that. Not only did St Louis NOT shutdown the read-option, they got their butts handed to them in a most glorious fashion.

    But hey, don’t let facts get in the way of a “good” argument. Right?

  21. Read the defense and pick your options. That is what people are missing when they say this offense is a fad or the SF didn’t run out it much. It is the the threat of the run that freezes defenses and opens up passing lanes. Downhill, hell bent defenses that rush the QB will get burned by the run. The read option forces defenses to play more passively and the game in turn becomes more offensive.

  22. I got it backward in my last post:

    Vs St Louis – Russell Wilson averaged 5.8 yards per carry on 10 runs with 1 TD. Marshawn Lynch averaged 5.6 carries on 18 attempts for 100 total yards on 0 TDs.

    Point remains the same – if that counts as “defending the read-option”, the NFL is in big trouble.

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