The hype from the NFL last season was how the read-option was going to revolutionize the league. For those who do not know what the read-option is, get acquainted with it, Philadelphia Eagles fans. The quarterbacks who utilized this type of offense were the ones who were — and still are — being talked about by sports announcers. These quarterbacks were Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. Although the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl with traditional offense, the read-option is not going away.
It is especially going to be a hot topic in Philadelphia. The Eagles acquired Chip Kelly, knowing fully that he is going to implement a similar offense like he did at the University of Oregon. The read-option offense is designed to neutralize both the 3-4 defense and the 4-3. It leaves a defender unblocked, which creates space for the ball handler. For the 4-3, it will leave a defensive lineman unblocked. For a 3-4, it leaves a linebacker free to roam. In each case, the ball handler will have to watch that unblocked player, and that will decide where he will run. It is designed to create open space to maneuver without squeezing between a wall of linemen.
The man who will be in charge of whipping the Philadelphia offensive line into shape is Jeff Stoutland, former offensive line coach for the University of Alabama. Kelly is scavenging for NFL success among the college ranks. Will this strategy pay off? Stoutland is an inexperienced rookie in the NFL, but he has won two national championships at Alabama. These are credentials that will matter less than swirling dust if Kelly doesn’t succeed at the pro level. The pressure is on for them, as the first official rookie training camp kicks off this Monday.
Stoutland, who replaced Howard Mudd, doesn’t seem to be feeling this weight. He told reporters that he hasn’t changed anything from college, and that he is having fun. When asked about the read-option and if it could be a success, he mentioned his time under head coach Nick Saban. He told reporters that defensive coaches deal with packages, strategies that are used in unique situations, but when an offense runs a no-huddle offense, it throws their world into chaos. So, in short, it seems that Stoutland is confident of Kelly’s approach, as he was with Saban’s. Like any good offense, the road to success relies heavily on its line.