Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fourth & Forever: Best Read-Option Teams

Fourth & Forever: Best Read-Option Teams

The read-option is the new wildcat and the newly found play-action remix. Times have changed in the NFL. Pocket quarterbacks are too one-dimensional. Teams are looking for mobile quarterbacks, who can be a good pocket quarterback and a good running quarterback. Plug that into the offensive schemes and the defenses have to prepare for both situations. Add in a good running back and this team has just become more dynamic. To run the read-option to perfection, you need a good duo; running back and quarterback. To keep defenses unbalanced, the read-option shouldn't be used excessively, but moderately. Plus no one wants to have their quarterback repeatedly in harms way. I'm going to be taking a look at the top read-option teams based on what they will do this season.

Chip N Dales Rescue Rangers have landed in the city of "Brotherly Love". Last season, the Eagles didn't get any love. The offensive line was terrible, giving up an average of seven sacks a game. Starting quarterback Michael Vick missed six games because of injury. Starting running back LeSean McCoy missed four games because of a concussion. The line couldn't stop a bowl of cereal from hitting the ground. I explained it to the Pillsbury Doughboy and he couldn't stop laughing.  Vick kept getting pressured out the pocket. Andy Reid had fans standing outside the Eagles facility protesting his release, and eventually it happened after a 4-12 season. But with former Oregon coach Chip Kelly uptempo offense, this team is going to be explosive, coming in at number three. The offensive line is better, they drafted offensive tackle Lane Johnson with the fourth pick in this Aprils draft The 6 ft 7  tackle  will definitely help. I was reading an article on Bleacher Report about Kelly's Eagles. They ran 86 plays in their first pre-season game against the New England Patriots, while not winning the time of possession advantage. 86 plays in under 29 minutes compared to the Patriots who ran a total of 72 plays. With Kelly its all about running as many plays as possible and scoring in bunches. Wearing down defenses and making them pay for it. He uses a different type of read-option that can limit the quarterback from running down-field. Don't be surprised to see receivers in the back-field, this is a running team. He uses mis-directions with the running back and different formations with the offensive line to keep the defense guessing. Pulling line-men around to double team defensive line-men and getting to the second level at linebackers. With McCoy and Vick being able to run and make cuts in fashion, this could be the best rushing team in the league. Kelly's inside and outside zone read-option scheme is going to help them win, especially when the defense can't figure out if its a running or passing play.

The Seattle Seahawks come in at number two. This team runs the read-option like its no ones business. They are a running team with work-horse Marshawn Lynch leading the pack. The former Golden Bear has been on a tare with quarterback Russell Wilson running the team. Lynch ran for over 1700 yards last season, averaging 5.0 yards per carry and totaling 14 touchdowns. 13 on the ground and one from the air. The Seahawks are a running team. Last year they ran the ball 54 percent of the time. Wilson, who was a rookie last season ran for five touchdowns and threw for 29. Having a quarterback rating of 100.3 in his first year makes him a big time threat moving forward. The more he develops, the better his team will become better. This Batman and Robin duo run Emerald city. Either one of them can be Batman, therefore teams just cant focus on one. Trying to plug the running lanes, leaves man to man coverage down-field. Faking the hand off to Lynch gets the defense leaning toward one side and Wilson lets it fly to receivers Sidney Rice or Golden Tate on the other side. Option two is Wilson him keeping the ball, going one way while Lynch has the defense chasing him. This team is unpredictable when it comes to scoring points. They averaged 25.8 ppg and 360.1 ypg. Feed the beast indeed!

Staying in the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers come in at number one. The combination of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running back Frank Gore and that pistol formation offense are lethal. The Packers are still trying to figure out who had the ball, from that 45-31 NFC Divisional game. The reason why they run this offense to perfection is because of the playmakers on the team. A good quarterback, to go along with a good running back, with the addition of two full-backs or tight-end in the backfield in unheard of. When the play starts, one full-back block the defensive end, while the guard will pull leading the way, followed by the other full-back and Gore. In order to get to the running back, the defender has to get through the guard and full-back. Then Gore is not an easy target, he is big back, who can break tackles. If Kaepernick keeps the ball, he wants to get to the outside running lanes. For this to work the outside defender isn't blocked, in hopes of the defender biting the fake hand-off to Gore. The person who was suppose to block the end defender is blocking up-field. The defensive end or linebacker comes in and Kaepernick keeps it and has a ton of running room because the other defenders are drawn down-field to the decoy receivers. The formation gets defenders to check for the run and when they realize its a pass their man is open down-field. For instance tight-end Vernon Davis is a mismatch. His man doesn't commit to him and he's left open. Plus he ran a 4.3 at the Combine. He can run right past most linebackers. There is a ton of things that can be done to produce yards out of that formation. Kaepernick averaged 7.7 yards a carry and Gore averaged 4.8. Combined they ran for 20 touchdowns. Just imagine if Kaepernick played the whole season. If I was coach Jim Harbaugh I personally would have bought former quarterback Alex Smith a Christmas gift for getting hurt, but I guess giving him the boot works as well.

The reason why I didn't pick the Redskins in because I think Robert Griffin lll, is going to be used a different way this season. Coming off a ligaments injury, the Redskins are not going to let him loose. He might now run with the ball for awhile. Of course it will intimidate defenses, although I still see the Redskins easing him in slowly. This offense is good, but won't be as explosive. The teams I discussed earlier are going to be the most effective running the read-option. The Eagles are the firecracker team to keep an eye on in the NFC EAST. Kelly is going to have defenses sucking air in, trying to catch their breath. Michael Vick is going to reinvent himself in this offense. McCoy, who I picked in my fantasy league 10th overall is going to get me a ton of points. The more plays that are ran, increases my point value. "Rescue Rangers!" Russell Wilson has another year of training camp under his belt. He reads the defense well, scrambling moving the chains. Marshawn Lynch, will do what he does and that is moving the pile and eating Skittles on the sideline. This offensive is going to be that much better, when receiver Percy Harvin comes back from injury. The 49ers are the team to beat. Kaepernick had a full training camp with the number one offense and Vernon Davis is going to be used more, due to injuries to the receivers. That pistol just became modified. There ranked number one on power rankings for a reason, its not just because of the defense, although it helps.


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