This past season, three teams that frequently use the read-option in their offense made it to the playoffs in the Redskins, Seahawks and 49ers. In case you are not sure what the read-option is, check out this piece from our brother blog, Hogs Haven. Basically, a quarterback and running back are left to diagnose a defense and decide who gets to carry the ball. Often times, it is the QB that runs it.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians does not think that is a good thing. In fact, he had this to say to the NFL Network's Rich Eisen (via NFL reporter, Ian Rapoport):
Bruce Arians to @richeisen: "The more you have designed runs for a QB, the more you put him in harms way." Thinks defenses will catch up— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 1, 2013
We saw Robert Griffin III of the Redskins tear his ACL once again on a play where he was trying to run the ball downfield. That is just the type of occurrence that is going to prevent Arians from allowing his quarterback to make the same mistake.
I think that no matter what the play or brand new scheme is, teams will eventually catch up to it. It's just a matter of how long it takes them. We saw the Ravens in the Super Bowl designate one player on every snap to go after the quarterback on read-option, pistol formation plays. He paid no mind to the running back at all, hitting the QB no matter the outcome. So, maybe teams have already figured it out.
Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, doesn't think so. He told WSCR in Chicago (via Pro Football Talk) that he thinks the read-option is here for good. "Yeah, it's tough to stop," he said. "I think the thing with us, and why it works so efficient for us, is we love throwing the ball out of the formation. We do a lot of things, a lot of play action, a lot of different looks."
That may be why it is so effective for those teams. Wilson, RGIII and Colin Kaepernick each have good arms as well. They are not strictly running quarterbacks, but they are dual threats, which holds defenses accountable. They can run the ball for a few yards or sling it to their receiver 50 yards down the field.
Until teams start figuring out how to defend it or if quarterbacks continue to get hurt running the ball, the read-option is not going anywhere. But it will disappear eventually. I mean, what happened to the once dominant Buddy Ryan "46" defense? People figured out that a quick passing game could beat it. There is always a weakness to every scheme.
So don't expect the Cardinals to be taking a quarterback this April with the intention of him running the ball down the field. It just isn't what BA believes in. And that's probably a good thing because the Cardinals don't have a quarterback currently on the roster that could run it anyhow.