Don't blink or you'll miss the latest change to NFL playbooks as Denver utilizes the run-option offense

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The option play may just be the most exciting play in all of football, aside from the kick return.

The option, which has primarily been run at the collegiate level, has made its way into the prep ranks.

It now appears to be headed to the NFL.

This past year, such option-heavy signal-callers such as Tim Tebow and Cam Newton were drafted by the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers, respectively.

The question has and continues to be, do NFL owners really want to put the face of their franchise in harms' way?

Coming out of college, quarterbacks have never been subjected to such athletes like the ones that await them at the professional ranks.

The NFL has defensive ends that are 6-foot-5 and weigh close to 300 pounds.

Not only are they large specimens, but they possess the innate ability to run down a quarterback in the same manner as a lion tracks down a zebra.

It all comes down to the health factor.

A few years ago, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford inked his name to a six-year. $78 million contract, with $50 million in guaranteed money.

Granted, Bradford is quite the athletic specimen, but he sure won't be operating the option any time soon in St. Louis.

Tebow and Newton are a different story, though.

Tebow operated the run-option offense for Urban Meyer at the University of Florida, and Newton, once he transferred to Auburn, ran the same offense for ex-Iowa State head coach Gene Chizik.

Again, the collegiate atmosphere is another world compared to the professional ranks.

The fact of the matter is that no matter the size or level of agility a quarterback possesses, the risk outweighs the reward.

However, contracts in football are much different than they are in baseball.

In football, a player can be cut from the team any time ownership feels the move is necessary.

The length of the contract is not guaranteed, which is why the guaranteed money of the contract is so pivotal.

This past offseason, however, one of the stipulations to the new 10-year collective bargaining agreement stated that there would be a ceiling put on the rookie wage scale.

The move is good for veterans who are getting paid less than a 22-year-old rookie.

In order to run the option effectively, a team must have athletic, agile offensive linemen, as well as speedy, shifty running backs.

There has been much controversy surrounding Tebow and his mechanics, to say the least.

He has had to work with quarterback coaches to alter his throwing motion.

He has been scrutinized over and over again.

He is in the shadow of one of the league's best quarterbacks ever, John Elway.

Now that Elway is the president of football operations in Denver, the scrutinizing is sure to continue.

Until a week ago, there was a question as to how long Tebow would remain the starter. On Sunday, Nov. 6, Tebow completed 48 percent of his passes on 21 attempts against the Oakland Raiders.

However, the former Gator finished the game with 118 yards on only 13 rush attempts.

But in the wake of the Broncos' revised game plan for Tebow, the former Heisman winner has been sacked 14 times in his three starts and was hit 17 times in the win against the Oakland Raiders.

First-year Broncos head coach John Fox has altered his offense in order to get the most out of Tebow.

First-year Broncos running back and former Miami Hurricane Willis McGahee has come out this week as saying that the run-option should in fact be the base offense for the team.

After being drafted in 2010, Tebow's contract is $9.7125 million and his signing bonus was $975,000, according to the Denver Post.

If I were an owner of an NFL franchise, I sure wouldn't want my quarterback taking the unnecessary hits.

Tebow is well on his way to being the latest victim to the PUP list (physically unable to perform) due to injuries that could possibly come his way.

However, I am pulling for Tebow. Critics said that he couldn't play at the high school level. He did. They said that he wouldn't excel at the collegiate level. He did. They said that he would never win the Heisman. He did.

All the young man does is win.

Is he a prototypical quarterback? No, not even close.

But he wins.

Isn't that what matters?

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