It's Open Season On The Read-Option Quarterback

By Karim Akbar
Kelley L. Cox- USA TODAY Sports

Colin Kaepernick is a freak of nature, a hybrid quarterback that can beat you with his legs and his arms.

Those legs are gazelle-like in stride and have become the blueprint in the read-option happy offense of today’s game. In 2012, phenom hybrid quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Kaepernick all used their unique skill sets to send their teams to the playoffs.

But those gazelle-like legs often attract predators in the wild — like hulking linebackers that would love nothing more than to take barrel down and take a ‘gazelle’ down and out of the game. Kaepernick heard the threats, Clay Matthews made good on them Sunday.

Matthews leveled Kaepernick on a late clothesline hit in the San Francisco 49ers‘ season opener against the Green Bay Packers. The late hit call was not made but the resulting fight after the whistle led to an offsetting penalty on both teams.  The Packers would go later go on to lose the game 34-28.

The fiasco really stems from Matthews’ comments a week ago when the linebacker declared war on the read-option quarterback. The read-option worked to perfection for the league’s top teams last season. Stack the middle, and the QB runs off untouched, spread your defense to the outside, and the big back gashes you up the middle.

With the exception of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, the teams that used and even abused the read-option in 2012 were rewarded with playoff spots. The ‘pistol’ offense, as it’s also known, shredded defenses last year and it seems defensive coordinators around the league have not found an answer for it.

The option isn’t going away, and neither are the hybrid quarterbacks. Defenses have more much more leverage this season than last and as a result, you’ll probably see more aggressive shots being taken by defenses. With the league flip-flopping on its interpretations of the rules, quarterbacks are on their own now.

In 2012, the read-option birthed stars like Kaepernick and RG3. The trend may be over though — it’s hunting season.

Karim Akbar is a  writer for Follow him on Twitter @Kuhreem , “Like” his RantSports page on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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