This season the read option will be in the crosshairs of every head coach in the NFL. Heck, even the 49ers will have to train their defense to deal with it. The bottom line? With success comes notoriety, and the upstart young 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has certainly carved out a chunk of both.
The read option play has it’s upsides and it’s downsides. Cam Newton and Tim Tebow had already gotten a lot of mileage from it, and some of the young guns had success with it this season as well. Having said that the element of surprise will be gone in 2013. With Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and finally Colin Kaepernick wreaking havoc all season long in 2012 the NFL will learn to deal with it quickly.
A college style scheme that works extremely well in that venue will have a shorter shelf life in the NFL. The read option is somewhat of a “shell game” which requires a very mobile quarterback to be good at it, and one down side is the potential for serious, even career ending injury. With the kind of money these young guns are getting paid these days offensive coaches will begin to get “gun-shy” of even using too often.
A side issue to the danger is leaving the protection of the pocket and the “defenseless player” protection it affords a quarterback. Once the quarterback heads down the field with the ball under his arm he becomes a target. Our “supreme leader” Roger Goodell has more or less declared via the rule book that giving a quarterback a concussion via a “helmet to helmet” hit is verboten, but not so with a running back.
Considering the stringent new rules about sideline specialists and concussion tests the fastest way to get a QB off the field will be to lower your head, charge him like a battering ram and clean his clock. A QB’s head isn’t the only danger, his whole body will have a bulls-eye on it. Knees? Ask Robert Griffin III.
The bottom line? Coaches will be working overtime this offseason to contain the threat of the read option, and expect defenses to be licking their lips at the mere thought of a shot to the quarterback with a low risk of a personal foul, fine, or suspension. Expect to see a concussion test done on the sidelines for a read option quarterback in 2013.