Change has been happening in the NFL in terms of offensive schemes over the past few years, which is why quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley have seen their draft stock rise as the college football season has progressed. NFL teams are beginning to value quarterbacks who can run a zone-read offensive attack that numerous college football programs like Oregon have made famous in recent years.
This change in offensive philosophy is a huge reason why Chip Kelly was the most recent highly-prized college coach to make the leap to the NFL ranks despite already being in control of a premier college program.
While dual-threat quarterbacks have opened many doors for themselves and others in the NFL, there are still teams that employ traditional offenses with a pocket passing quarterback, which is why Baylor Bears head coach Art Briles will be the next hot coaching candidate who will have the option to follow in Kelly’s footsteps.
Briles was the coach who allowed Robert Griffin III to flourish while at Baylor, but with Bryce Petty under center this season, who is a less mobile quarterback than Griffin, the Bears feature one of the best offenses in the nation with a scheme that includes the zone-read but is tailored for a pocket passing quarterback.
When Mariota runs the zone-read, he makes the decision whether to hand off the ball, or to keep it and run the opposite direction that the line is moving in hopes of breaking free for a big run. When Briles calls for a read-option play however, Petty has three options he can choose from. There is the obvious hand-off, the rarely used QB scramble, or the decision to fake the hand-off and drop back for a pass, which is what makes the Bears so hard to defend.
They more often than not pull back the hand-off in favor of throwing the ball down the field, which is a huge reason why their offense has averaged nearly 70 points per game this season.
The zone-read took the NFL by storm last season, but this year has been different as defenses have shown the ability to stop some of the premier quarterbacks who run it such as Colin Kaepernick, meaning the type of option offense that Briles runs at Baylor could be the next big thing to be adopted by the NFL.
The NFL is a pass-first league, and so is the offense Briles runs, which is the reason he is a perfect candidate to replace a departed head coach next season.
Briles has been helped by his star players on offense as Petty is completing over 70 percent of his passes on the year, and running back Lache Seastrunk is picking up an average of 11 yards per carry, which was the most of any running back heading into Week 7 of the college football season.
While Baylor has talented athletes, Briles is the one responsible for their spectacular play this season, which is why he should be a top head coach candidate at the end of the season for numerous NFL and college football teams.