Multiple rumors around Redskins park suggest that Mike and Kyle Shanahan are trying to integrate some form of the option offense into their playbook. The Redskins haven't come out and said as such and reports aren't allowed to comment on what they see behind closed doors, but the indications point in the direction of the option being used at some point this season. I'm not a fan of the option, at least not with Robert Griffin III at quarterback. I know Tim Tebow and Cam Newton had success running it last year, but those guys have a much bigger frame that allows them to absorb the hits you take from running the option better than Griffin III can. But it would appear as though the Redskins want to run it anyway (and that's not to say my dislike of the option would or should change their plan). So here's a look at two of the more basic option plays. To the whiteboard!
First up, the read option run play.
This is the play that will leave Griffin III most vulnerable. The blockers up front will intentionally allow a defensive end to go unblocked. That allows them to get the guards up-field onto the linebackers much quicker and more effectively than normal. However that does mean there is a free man that can run straight at our franchise quarterback.
Griffin III will be reading that defensive end the entire time. If he stays outside to protect the edge from Griffin III, then the ball is handed off to the running back on the inside, where the offensive line has the extra blocker than usual. If everyone blocks their man properly then the back will in theory, have a one-on-one match up with the free safety as he comes down in run support.
If the defensive end crashes inside to stop the back, then Griffin III keeps the ball and bounces outside. As you can see from that picture, if the U man can hold a block, then Griffin III could see massive open field on this play and allow his 4.3 speed to shine.
This is a play that forces defensive ends, in particular, to stay patient and hold their responsibility. Most defensive ends like to rush up-field as quickly as possible and get to the ball. If they do that, the quarterback keeps and runs right past them. If they then overcompensate on the next play by crashing outside, the running back gets the ball and runs inside with an extra blocker. It's a simple, yet very effective scheme, hence why it's used so heavily in college. There are of course, variations of such plays, many of which involve the quarterback running inside the tackles, but this is the most common.
The other common option play I have for you is the triple option. It's a slightly more complicated play, in that there is more than one option for the quarterback. But it is no less effective. Lets go back to the whiteboard.
The idea of this play is to catch the linebacker, in this case the Will (or weakside linebacker), out of position. The beauty of it is, if it's run correctly, the linebacker will be out of position every single time. There are three options on this play. The quarterback can either kick it outside to the running back, keep it himself, or toss it to the fullback (who can be anyone, I'm just saying fullback for ease of demonstration) on the inside. The object is to catch the defense in a position that the linebacker has to cover at least two, if not all three options.
If the linebacker comes inside to take away the run with blockers, then the quarterback can keep it or kick it outside. The quarterback would probably keep it until a man was in a position to tackle him, at which point he'd toss it outside to the running back.
If the linebacker comes down to take away the threat of the quarterback, then he still has two options. He can flick it back inside or toss it outside, depending on how the rest of the defense has reacted to the play.
Finally, if the linebacker takes away the outside option, the quarterback can still keep it himself, to toss the ball inside to the fullback, depending on how the rest of the defense reacts.
Again, it's another situation where if it's run correctly, the defense loses every time. The reason Tebow was so successful last year wasn't that the defense didn't know what was coming, it was that they weren't disciplined enough to hold their responsibilities. Instead, they just burst up-field. When that happens, the option beats you every time.
Now the good thing for the Redskins is that Griffin III only has to take one or two carries a game for a significant gain before the defense start to focus on him. Then he can just option it off to the other runner for plenty of yards and he goes unharmed.
What are your views on the option game? Should we be trying it out as Griffin III was successful with it in college, or is he too vulnerable to injury when its run? Let us know in the comments below.