No topic was beaten to death in the NFL off-season more than whether the read option was a fad, or whether it had staying power at the pro level. After last weekend, media throughout the country (not always the best gauge, by the way) were convinced that it was nearly dead and gone.
"Oh, look at how the Colts handled Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco"
"Robert Griffin III is a shell of himself and the read option is dead in Washington"
"Those people" think the read option is a ghost because the Colts slowed Kaepernick on a few read option plays. The fact of the matter is that the read option takes on a ton of different forms, and it's hardly dead as proven by what the Carolina Panthers are doing.
Here's a perfect example of how the read option CONTINUES to be, when executed at a premium, ultra difficult to stop. If I could offer you advantageous numbers in the box and the opportunity to NOT have to block one of the best defensive ends on the field, wouldn't you take that 100,000% of the time? Sure, you would. That's what perfectly executed read option schemes CAN provide for an offense.
Carolina proves that early in its matchup with the Giants.
- Down and Distance: 1st and 10
- H: Middle of the field
- Y: +26 yard line
- "11" personnel - 1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR
- Play call: INVERTED VEER
One of the read options concepts that we've seen little of in the NFL is that of the INVERTED VEER. However, the Panthers run it to perfection on this play. It has the appearance of traditional zone read -- and there's a read involved -- but it's the inverted veer option wrinkle.
The Giants are in nickel and playing press man with two half-safeties over the top. That means there is little run support the secondary can provide. The Giants have only five relevant defenders in the box and one of those five, QB Cam Newton, will read. As I mentioned, advantageous numbers in the box and one less player, a great one at that, to block.
As such, the right side of the OL will veer block inside the play side five technique (down blocking or combo blocking up to second level). That five tech DE Jason Pierre Paul (in the circle below) will ultimately be the read player on this run. The left guard pulls around and leads up into the hole, avoiding JPP as he leads up on to the inside linebacker.
On the snap, Newton sticks the ball into RB DeAngelo Williams's belly as he takes a wide zone-stretch path. Newton's read is simple: JPP (in the circle). If Pierre Paul jumps the RB, Newton will keep and follow the pulling guard INSIDE through the hole. If Pierre Paul stays with the QB, Newton will hand to Williams headed to the outside with little resistance.
Well, JPP does neither as he's confused as to which one to take, but that's enough indecision for Newton to pull the rock and head into the hole. He goes untouched for 12 yards and another first down. You can see the play below.
The better view is the overhead shot.
Now you tell me: You think the read option is dead in the NFL? Not when it's executed like this, a perfect view of the INVERTED VEER.