How teams with the Read Option Offense have fared so far this NFL Season
by rick olivares
Heading into this NFL season, it was a safe bet to say that defenses weren’t going to allow teams that ran the read-option offense to run amuck in the same manner they did the previous year.
During the 2012-13 NFL season, four teams ran the read-option offense – the Washington Redskins that were buoyed by the arrival of Robert Griffin III, the San Francisco 49ers that installed Colin Kaepernick as their first choice QB over Alex Smith who missed two starts because of a concussion, the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks.
The four teams combined for a 39-24-1 record. The Washington Redskins won the NFC East with a 10-6 record while the 49ers topped the NFC West with a 11-4-1 slate.
San Francisco won the NFC Conference and lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the last play, 34-31.
While most offenses in the NFL prefer pocket passers like the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning or the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees, you have the athletic QBs like the Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick who are progenitors of the Read Option Offense.
The Read Option Offense basically is a deceptive play wherein the offensive line blocks in one way while QB makes decisions on whether to hand the ball to a tail back or to keep the ball and pass to a suddenly open receiver who has become unmarked due to the defense reacts. For this to run smoothly, everyone has to play their role to perfection as the QB makes a quick read on the play.
American Football analysts say the Read Option Offense is a fad but I don’t think so as variations of it have been run through the years. You have the no huddle offense or the silent count offense that has confounded defenders.
Offensive schemes have adapted throughout history from the time to prevent marauding linebackers and blitzes. I like the Read Offense because now you play 11-on-11 as opposed to pocket passers where you have 10 men trying to protect the QB from 11 defenders. The downside here is that you expose the QB to injury.
It should be noted that the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Washington Redskins in the regular season and had time to study the offense. But they nearly lost to the 49ers in the Super Bowl.
This past off-season, teams studied the Read Option and how to defend it.
Are they doing a good job?
Let’s take a look at the standings of the Redskins, 49ers, Panthers, and Seahawks after Week Three.
Washington is 0-3 in the NFC East
Carolina is 1-2 in the NFC South
Seattle is 3-0 while San Francisco is 2-2 in the NFC West.
The Redskins lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 33-27; the Green Bay Green Bay 38-20; and the Detroit Lions 27-20.
The Redskins are lost with an ineffective RGIII (well their special teams haven’t shown up too). Are people pressing the panic button? I know that since 1978, of the 161 teams that started the season 0-3, only five teams have made the post-season. Consider this though – Washington started last season 1-2 and was 3-6 after Week Nine. Then they went on a nine-game win streak to top their division.
The Carolina Panthers have had to deal with a lot of injuries. After their 24-23 loss to Buffalo in the final play that dropped them to 0-2 they came back with a 38-0 thrashing of the awful New York Giants.
The Seahawks are playing terrific on both ends of the field with the defense forcing a lot of turnovers and surrendering the fewest yards 241.7 per game (with 146.7 coming from passing). So far they have had five interceptions and five fumble recoveries.
On offense, Seattle is eighth so far.
The 49ers went into Week Four in a must-win situation after falling to 1-2 for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh. Colin Kaepernick responded to the challenge with an effective 15-23 and two TDs in a 35-11 manhandling of the St. Louis Rams. He was composed in leading SF to a huge win (even against a terrible opponent. Remember they are struggling with injuries to starters Ian Williams, Patrick Willis and Nnamdi Asomugha while all-pro linebacker Aldon Smith checked into rehab this week.
However, running back Frank Gore tabbed his first 100-yard rushing game of the season for 153 yards on 20 carries and a TD.
I think by mid-season, a better assessment can be made of these team’s fortunes and their offense.
Having said that, those four teams aren’t the only ones running the Read Option.
The Buffalo Bills with rookie former Florida State Seminole EJ Manuel at QB and with new head coach Doug Marone also run the Read Option and are 1-2 in the AFC East.
But it should be noted that the loses by the Bills have been close: 23-21 to the New England Patriots and 27-20 to the New York Jets.
Since 2009 152.8 rushing yards allowed. But this season it’s 155 average yard per game, the third worst in the NFL.
Fad or wave of the future?
We’ll find out by season’s end and the next if teams still run it. But I like it. It’s not a gimmick offense or flavor of the month ala the “Wildcat”. Coaches who run it will tinker with it to how opposing defenses have played it so far.