The NFL is an ever-evolving league in which challenging the norm can often bring about mockery and ridicule. When Denver Bronco's head coach John Fox drew up an option-style offense for quarterback Tim Tebow, most people around the NFL called it a gimmicky method that would not solve Denver's long-term problems at the quarterback position. However, when the Washington Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III last April, head coach Mike Shannahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan instituted the same college-style, read-option offense, they were praised for their innovation because of the degree of success they ran the system to .
In past seasons, pundits have proclaimed the read-option offense as an unsustainable system because it risks significant injury to the quarterback. The Redskins found that out the hard way this season, as RG3 may miss a significant portion of 2013 with an ACL tear in his knee. However, with Russell Wilson and Colin Kapernick playing their teams deep into the 2012 postseason with a college-syle offense, the question becomes how defensive coordinators around the NFL change their defensive personnel to better defend those sets.
For New York Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, he does not see an immediate need to make drastic adjustments to either their scheme, or the players being brought in to defend opponents.
"Stick with what we do. We don’t worry about what other teams do, we draft the best players for us," Ross said. "And we think from that, we’ll be able to defend those kind of new-wave offenses. Last year, even the team we have now, we think we have the personnel to beat those guys, and we’re just trying to just get better at all positions to further do that. We’re not going to drastically change anything we do, based off of those new offenses."
With the Philadelphia Eagles addition of head coach Chip Kelly, the Giants could face a college-style offense five times next season. Along with their two annual matchups against the Redskins and Eagles, Big Blue will also square off against the Seattle Seahawks as well. In nearly a third of their games, the Giants will be facing new wave offenses that took the league by storm in 2012.
In fact, in two games against the Washington Redskins this season, the Giants gave up a total of 850 yards of total offense. Although Ross says that the team does not need to tailor their personnel to defend the read-option, Big Blue struggled mightily to defend Robert Griffin III and Co. last season. If the personnel is not going to change for these matchups, the defensive scheme better. Or else, the Giants will continue to fail against the mobile quarterbacks that are beginning to emerge as lethal weapons for opposing offenses.
However, around the NFL, teams are beginning to accept college-style offenses as an effective method. Although many see it as a fad similar to the Wild Cat, it's hard to doubt the logic behind the scheme. When the quarterback has to be constantly accounted for in the run game, it leaves the defense without enough players to defend the run. Former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo says he plans on practicing defending option-style football with whichever team he ends up with in 2013.
"All of us on defense are going to face this thing between two and five times a year, depending on what division you’re in," Steve Spagnuolo said. "I think it’s going to force us all, whether it is in five minutes of OTA's or five minutes of training camp practices, to actually work on option football."
It's difficult to discern if the read-option offense is here to stay. The system has been effective in allowing less talented teams compete with some of the best squads in the NFL. However, it allows the quarterback to get hit on nearly every play and drastically increase his risk of injury. If that's a risk team's are continually willing to take, then the Giants better find some speed on the defensive side of the football quickly, or else we could see them fail again in 2013.
Also…Chip Kelly, Denver, Football, Marc Ross, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Eagles, Robert Griffin III, Seattle Seahawks, Steve Spagnuolo, Tim Tebow, Washington, Washington Redskins
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