ESPN’s NFL Live threw out an interesting stat this afternoon (and thanks to Jayson Jenks for the heads up), ranking the teams that ran the “read option” the most last season.
The read option, recall, is the play where the quarterback gets the snap and then has the option to hand it off or run with it himself (the play Oregon has made so famous at the college level, for instance).
Here are the top three:
1, Washington, 96
2, Carolina, 74
3, Seattle, 52
Considering the quarterbacks involved — Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson — the last makes sense. The read option takes advantage of a QB’s running skills and decision-making ability.
ESPN also reported that the Seahawks averaged 7.1 yards on those plays, also third-most in the league.
I’d imagine that a breakdown of the numbers by game would show that Seattle used the play a lot more in the second half of the season — once the Seahawks really took the reins off Wilson — than in the first half.
And that would lead to an expectation that the number of times they run the read option this year would increase.
But with so many teams beginning to use the play as a staple of their offense, what will get interesting now is how defenses react. Football has always been a game of an innovation followed by a reaction and, usually, somewhat of a correction.
The extent to which defenses are beginning to take their approach to defending the play was illustrated in this recent ESPN.com story on the Atlanta Falcons, who had a lot of struggles with it last season.