NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins

A couple of years ago, the idea of a read option offense being used regularly in the NFL would have been met with intense and dismissive laughter.  Now, those same people who were laughing are either studying tape as to how they can implement the scheme into their playbooks, or currently watching football on television instead of coaching it.  With the rise of multi-threat quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick, the read option now has found its way from the college ranks into the professional level.  Even though some still consider this as a “gimmick”, this way of playcalling is very different from other schemes used in the past.

Wildcat

What separates this from a previous scheme used before, the “Wildcat”, is that the read option does not take the quarterback from under center.  When teams ran the wildcat, they usually had a special player other than the starting QB to get the snap.  When defenses saw this, they narrowed the possibilities from 50-50% pass, to a great chance that the play will result in a run, and acted accordingly.

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What makes the pistol so different is the fact that there is no unusual pre-snap lineup to tip the defense off, and there is just as much possibility to pass from the formation as there is to run.  With passers such as RG3, Russell Wilson, and Kaepernick being able to throw as well as they can run, it is fairly easy for them to see the defense sucked in for the run and play action into a big play pass.  With more QBs being coached in the read option in college, this could begin a new crop of players who bring about a new breed of quarterbacking, and a new system of offense.

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With the read option being so prevalent in the NFL this year, people question how much staying power it will have.  I firmly believe that as long as QB’s come into the league more athletic than ever before, while still being able to be good passers from the pocket, this scheme could be around for a long time.  There once was a time when people did not think the shotgun would be around long, and look at it now.  More coaches will come into the league from college ranks, more QBs will come into the league with experience running the offense, and naturally offenses will turn this “gimmick” into a staple scheme that is used frequently in the NFL for years to come.

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