With the growing popularity of the read option in NFL we see various reactions from defensive coaches and coordinators. Some rush to consult with college coaches who face this type of offense more and some choose the macho answer.
Statements like – "We gonna solve it by putting the QB down so he doesn’t walk off" sound so very dumb to me.
What does that actually mean?
Does it mean that unlike last year, this year they will instruct their defense to stop avoiding hitting the QB as hard as possible as much as possible?
Who are those benevolent people who gave the QB a free license to run last year?
Talking tough in my experience is rarely the main attribute of those who can act tough. (Years in combat units taught me that lesson again and again)
I know the NFL is tough all over. I know a running QB is a prime target. I know that they may get hit. They get hit in the pocket too.
I think that the "we'll hit the QB so hard…" answer to the read option is really a way of saying we have nothing else to stop it.
Aiming at the QB in order to stop the read option is probably the worse solution to the read option. It's another way of saying – we are going to waste a defensive player to guard the QB run space and allow the Oline and running back to exploit the advantage.
The main point about the read option that sets it apart from various play action plays is the possibility of the QB rushing forcing the defense to put a man on it. The read option is not an elaborate plan to have the QB become the main running threat; it's a plan to use that threat so you get more out of doing everything but have the QB rushing all over the field.
Teams using the read option will not have an easy target slow QB scrambling pathetically till he is hit hard by the faster and stronger defensive players. Those teams will have a quick and athletic QB. Fast enough to exploit the totally empty spaces when they are available and smart enough to use his "free get out of jail cards" and slide legs forwards before contact. (See RW's free from hits on read option plays 2012 season
In reality, out of 60-70 offensive plays a game a team would use maybe 10 of those on read option. Out of those the first priority is to freeze the defensive player away from the play and run it against the reduced defense. The 2nd priority would be to use the DE/LB freezing or rushing in on the running back to have time and open passing lanes to pass the ball (see 49ers in the SB). The QB will pick up and run 3-4 times at most. And those will happen only when the defense is really zeroing on the RB and leaving lots of open space.
The true power of the read option is that it's a multi option play that a smart QB can exploit. It forces the defense to be very disciplined in the timing, placement and motion of the front 7 or 8.
"We will hit him so hard he won't stand up" is a way of saying – we have nothing else to counter that play. The only answer we have for it is that if we do get to the QB we are going to hit him very hard and hope it happens enough to scare you away from using it.
Really? That's the best answer you've got?
When the going gets tough the tough gets talking?
Man are we going to read option your ass.