The read-option has been used by college offenses since the 70′s, but only recently has it been taken to the next level in the NFL. Some teams have found a great deal of success running the read-option, but it can also come at a cost, allowing major hits on quarterbacks. Due to this fact, there is at least one offensive coordinator that won’t be concerning himself with that particular offense. Gunther Cunningham asserts that the read-option will end itself, without the aid of tactical defensive-minded coaches and players.
“The problem is for those quarterbacks, one of these days one of them is not going to walk off….It’s a lot of pressure on him to physically do that.”
Cunningham addresses two separate, but related issues with the read-option. First, the more obvious of the two points, the scheme exposes QB’s to big hits that can easily put them out of commission for the play, game…or longer. Taking this sort of punishment repeatedly could lead to a shortened career and, in this day and age where concussions are a major concern of the NFL and its players, serious head trauma. As for the second point, Cunningham discusses the sort of pressure that the possibility of not walking off the field after a play puts on players. He goes into further detail remembering his own college football days.
“I think we all understand what the issues are and how to play it. I reflect back on my college days and it wasn’t that hard to remember all that stuff because it put a lot of pressure on me in those days and it does in this league too.”
Any QB that feels this pressure and has the thought in the back of their head that they may not come off the field under their own power will most likely have a difficult time following the read-option scheme game after game. If a QB’s fear doesn’t end the read-option, which it most likely will not because I don’t know of any QB that would admit to being fearful of the read-option, a debilitating injury will.