Read-Option Slows Down NFL’s Best Pass-Rushers

Washington Commanders Washington Redskins

Everyone has had their say on the read-option this offseason, but one of the more overlooked aspects is the effect it has on a pass-rusher. Mike and Kyle Shanahan have both emphasized just how much the read-option slows down pass-rushers and helps protect Robert Griffin III in the pocket. Read-option fakes lead to some of the Redskins biggest plays last year Pass-rushers are forced to wait through the mesh point of the read-option fake before they can get after the quarterback, giving Griffin that little bit extra time to go through his progressions. Here’s an example of DeMarcus Ware, one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.

He lines up opposite Tyler Polumbus, the Redskins right tackle. Polumbus has struggled with pass protection his entire career, so DeMarcus Ware provides a very good match up for the Cowboys.

As Griffin turns to fake the hand-off, Ware stops his feet at the line of scrimmage as he waits to see if Griffin will hand it off.

Ware hesitates through the mesh point and still hasn’t engaged with Polumbus, who is given time to position himself.

Griffin is already checking through his reads before Ware has even engaged with Polumbus.

Allowing Polumbus to easily run Ware clear of Griffin.

But Ware wasn’t the only pass-rusher that fell victim of the read-option fakes.

Here’s Osi Umenyiora playing for the Giants in week 13.

Umenyiora takes a few steps upfield, but hesitates through the mesh point. He appears to be left unblocked, which helps sell the read-option fake further. But tight end Logan Paulsen is sifting back across the line to block him.

Umenyiora freezes until he knows that Griffin has kept the ball. By that point, Paulsen and Morris are both in position to block him.

Paulsen makes easy work of blocking Umenyiora without even needing the help of Morris.

How about Justin Tuck? Another great pass-rusher.

Here he lines up opposite Pulumbus, who is going to leave him unblocked.

Tuck is able to knock Polumbus off balance, but is frozen by the read-option fake.

Fullback Darrel Young is the player assigned with blocking Tuck on this play, but Tuck has to wait until he knows Griffin has kept the ball before he engages with Young.

Young is able to get an inside position on Tuck, who attempts to get past him on the outside.

But Young is able to run him past Griffin without any troubles.

If I had said to you at the start of the year, the Redskins would be able to easily block DeMarcus Ware, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck with Tyler Polumbus, Logan Paulsen and Darrel Young, you’d have called me crazy. But the threat of the read-option allows the read-option fakes to drastically slow down pass-rushers, making it possible for tight ends, backs and lesser tackles block quality pass-rushers.


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