Read Option Offense: Post-Effect On NFL Quarterbacks
The read option offense is an offense that is often seen in college football, which depends heavily on running plays. This type of offense often causes deception to the opposing defense, yet requires flawless execution, and greater risk of injury to the quarterback. In order to effectively execute an option-play, it often requires an athletic quarterback with great ball carrier vision.
Use of read option in the NFL:
Although the read option had been used before in the NFL, the 2012 season is when it was widely adopted into few offenses, and used more often. Teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, the Washington Redskins, and the Seattle Seahawks were the most common.
These three teams saw great success in their offenses with their deadly combinations, the 49ers with Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore; the Redskins Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris; and the Seahawks Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch -- all three quarterbacks ran a 4.55 40-yard dash or lower. The Redskins finished No. 1 in the NFL in rushing yards, while the Seahawks finished No. 3, and the 49ers No. 4.
Effect on quarterbacks/team:
Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick(started last six games) had memorable seasons due to the success of utilizing the read option -- creating household names themselves as dual-threat quarterbacks.
Robert Griffin III: 20 TDS, 5 INT, 3,200 YDS, 65.6%, 102.4 QB Rating
Russell Wilson: 26 TDS, 10 INT, 3,118 YDS, 64.1%, 100.0 QB Rating
Colin Kaepernick: 10 TDS, 3 INT, 1,814 YDS, 62.4%, 98.3 QB Rating
Remember, the read option also benefits the running backs:
Alfred Morris: 1,613 YDS, 4.8 YPC, 13 TDS -- No. 2 in rushing yards, rookie season.
Marshawn Lynch: 1,590 YDS, 5.0 YPC, 11 TDS -- career high for YPC, and rushing yards in a season.
Frank Gore: 1,214 YDS, 4.7 YPC, 8 TDS -- second-most career rushing yards in a season.
While the quarterbacks and the running backs excelled, so did the team around them, as the Washington Redskins finished with a record of 10-6, the Seattle Seahawks, 11-5, and the San Francisco 49ers, 11-4-1(Super Bowl appearance).
Post-effect on quarterbacks/team:
Following their spectacular 2012 seasons, Robert Griffin III, and Colin Kaepernick struggle to run a pro-style offense, while Russell Wilson seems just fine.
Griffin and Kaepernick's quarterback mechanics are now being questioned as their accuracy and basic quarterback fundamentals seem to be hampered as their not-so-stellar statistical season progresses.
Robert Griffin III: 14 TDS, 11 INT, 2,841 YDS, 59.9%, 81.9 QB Rating
Colin Kaepernick: 14 TDS, 7 INT, 2,037 YDS, 56.7%, 86.6 QB Rating
The teams of both quarterbacks are also struggling to win games, with the Washington Redskins with a record of 3-8, and the San Francisco 49ers with a record of 7-4.
Yet Russell Wilson and his team seems just fine, as the Seattle Seahawks are No. 1 in the NFC(possibly the NFL) with a record of 10-1.
Russell Wilson: 19 TDS, 6 INT, 2,362 YDS, 64.0%, 105.1 QB Rating
Why teams should have avoided the read option:
Griffin and Kaepernick both found that the read option ultimately isn't going to work in the NFL, with smarter defensive coordinators, and faster, stronger, and smarter players on defense -- Chip Kelly and Michael Vick had to learn it the hard way as well.
Had the head coaches of both franchises chose to run an actual professional offense, instead of pampering the quarterbacks by building the offense around their style of play, they could've possibly been noticeably better this season.
Both Kaepernick and Griffin will need to spend time during the offseason to correct improve their pocket presence if they want to succeed in the NFL -- playing like a college quarterback is no longer going to cut it.