Philadelphia Eagles: What's The Point of Running The Read-Option?

By Sonny Bryan
Howard Smith – USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get me wrong, the read-option in today’s game has proven it can be effective if ran properly and can make defensive coordinators pull their hair out. Guys like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III dominated defenses with that package and really sent a message around the league. However, in the Philadelphia Eagles‘ case, what’s the point of running it?

The Eagles’ final roster will most likely have three quarterbacks: Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley. Obviously, only one of those quarterbacks have the athletic ability to run the read-option, and that’s Vick. But we have seen Vick get injured countless times over the years and if he were to win the starting quarterback position, would Chip Kelly really expose the 33-year-old quarterback to injury like that? The answer is probably yes, since Kelly invests at least 10-15 minutes every practice making his quarterbacks run the read-option. Since most of the quarterback personnel do not have the speed and athleticism to be effective read-option quarterbacks, it seems like Kelly would throw that package out of his playbook. Yet, Foles and Barkley may be able to catch the defense napping and keep the ball on the read-option and gain a few yards, but it may only work once or twice a game.

Vick is very capable of running plays out of that package, yet you can’t rely on his durability. So, if you can’t rely on Vick staying healthy and your other quarterbacks have never ran the read-option before, than what’s the point of running it at the NFL level? Now, I’m not saying I know what Kelly’s offense is going to be like, nobody has that knowledge, but if Kelly is making his quarterbacks practice it, it leads us to believe he has it in his playbook somewhere.

An example of why the read-option shouldn’t even be an option for the Eagles is what happened to one of their division rivals. Washington Redskins quarterback Griffin tore multiple ligaments in his knee last season, and it didn’t look good. When a team’s offense is based around the athletic ability of the quarterback, you must deal with the consequences if the quarterback goes down. Now, Griffin is a bigger, stronger and faster human being than Vick, which may be cause for some concern if we see Vick (assuming he is the starting quarterback) running around a lot more than we are used to seeing in Philadelphia.

Guys like Foles and Barkley are quarterbacks who rely on quick thinking, accuracy and being field generals rather than making defenders miss with agility and speed. If Foles or Barkley wind up winning the starting quarterback position, I’m sure they will have some amount of authority in Kelly’s playbook. It seems as if Kelly will have two different playbook because of how different his quarterbacks are. Kelly is going to have to change things up if one guy wins the job, goes down or is just not comfortable in certain packages.

Sonny Bryan is a Philadelphia Eagles writer for Follow him on Twitter @SonnyBryan50.

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