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Is the read option sustainable in the NFL?

The success of the read option in the NFL going forward will depend more on QBs' heads than their legs.


The read option took the NFL by storm last year and NFL defenses have spent the offseason studying up on how to stop it. Of course, the irony is that all of them probably the faced and schemed against the read option in college, where it's been prevalent for decades.

So to see some times, the GIants among them, send their assistants back to college to figure out the read option is kind of funny.

And as we've said a few times, it's wrong to write off the read option as a gimmick for that very reason. It's not new. It may be that some NFL defensive coordinators forgot everything they faced in high school and college, but the read option is a long tested and used part of football. It's not about tricking the defense, It's really just about blocking well and having a smart guy handling the ball... just like every other play in football.

That said, there is one major element working against the read option at this level. It sometimes means that your franchise QB will carry the ball and be exposed to hits. Lions defensive coordinator thinks that will hurt the read option more than any defensive scheme.

"The problem is for those quarterbacks, one of these days one of them is not going to walk off," he said. "It's a lot of pressure on him to physically do that."

Like a lot of things though, how much your QB actually gets hits is really dependent on him more than the scheme. Michael Vick takes hits in the open field all the time because he doesn't know when to give on a play. Running the read option we see Robert Griffin III take big hits because he's the same way. That mentality is what makes guys like that as exciting as they are, but we've seen that it's also pretty dangerous for their health.

However, we also see a guy like Russell Wilson who almost never takes a hit in the open field because he's smart. He gets out of bounds, he slides, he does the things you want your QB to do when he's running.

So in the end, how will the read option be sustainable in this league? Smart QBs... which just so happens to be the same way pretty much any offense is sustainable.

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