There's been a lot of talk about the read option in NFL circles, and rightfully so. Mobile quarterbacks were the "it" thing last year, with Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, among others, seeing success in offenses that allowed them to use their legs. Zone reads were used as wrinkles in some NFL schemes, and it became a big talking point as the year wore on.
But I think there's still some confusion here. Take this quote from Packers head coach Mike McCarthy:
"We're even going to the college ranks, we'll have a couple college coaches come in, spend some time with our staff. Actually, our defensive staff is going to take a trip to Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin is someone I have great respect for and with his ability to share from both the offensive side and the defensive side his experience in the read option.
It's noteworthy that he wants to study the read option and that he's sending his defensive coaches to the college ranks to study it. But ... he's barking up the wrong tree.
.@brianmfloyd Exactly. Saban put it best when he said Manziel like a taller Doug Flutie, not a designed QB run guy like Tebow or Cam Newton— Smart Football (@smartfootball) February 23, 2013
It may seem logical that McCarthy's crew is heading to College Station. Johnny Manziel has wheels and showed well as a mobile quarterback. He ran for 1410 yards and 21 touchdowns -- a big part of his Heisman campaign. So sure, Manziel is mobile.
He was not, however, a read option quarterback. Not even close. Manziel played in Kliff Kingsbury's system -- a system that traces its roots right up the Air Raid coaching tree. Kingsbury played quarterback under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, and took the Air Raid with him as he transitioned to coaching. He's an Air Raid offensive coordinator.
Yes, Manziel racked up rushing yards. But he did so more as a freelancer -- something we saw quite a bit as he improvised to get away from the pass rush while making plays with his legs as well as his arm. He wasn't running read options, but instead was just making plays with his feet in a more dynamic than planned manner.
Then we get to this quote from McCarthy, and I'm lost:
"Just the fact what they've done on offense and the ability to face it on defense all the time in the SEC," McCarthy said of why he thought studying the Aggies would help. "We thought this would be a great opportunity. We've very thankful for him to bring our staff in."
That's quite the blanket statement, and it doesn't mesh with what the SEC is. We can fall back on the SEC's rep as a power offense conference and in this case the stereotype would fit for the most part. The SEC is not a read option conference, and the system isn't very prevalent there at all. So saying Texas A&M's defense faced it "all the time in the SEC" just doesn't add up.
I'd suggest checking out @smartfootball's timeline from today for a bit of education about this. It simply seems that McCarthy is confused or was led into the answers he gave, at best, and throwing things at the wall to see what sticks when it comes to the read option at worst.
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