The NFL is a copycat league. One does it and pretty soon everyone is.
In 2013, offensive wizards are incorporating flashy packages that spread out defenses and cater to the skillsets of duel-threat quarterbacks.
For head coach Mike Shanahan it’s a back to the future sort of thing. No he doesn’t drive a DeLoriean with scissor doors around the Ashburn area and he doesn’t have a flux capacitor, but he does have experience in this whole option thing dating back to his days under legendary coach Barry Switzer in 1975.
Fresh out of college, Shanahan landed a gig with the University of Oklahoma as an offensive assistant.
It was there where he soaked up Switzer’s option scheme, spending countless hours studying the intricacies of an offensive gameplan that confuses defenses, all while watching scratchy film of opponents and highlighting chinks in the armor.
With running back Joe Washington back in the fold after nearly winning the Heisman Trophy in 1974, Oklahoma was stacked in the backfield. With six running backs rushing for at least 600 yards, Shanahan had a first-hand look at what makes the option successful.
Fast-forward nearly 40 years later, and a package that is run all over the country on Saturday afternoons is now creeping its way into the NFL. It even found its way into Shanahan’s press conference yesterday as the Redskins second matchup of the season looms against Chip Kelly’s Eagles. Kelly of course is only a year removed from etching his name into option lore.
“You know, you go back to those years and you go back to high school and college – a lot of people ran the option back then, Shanahan said in response to a question about learning the option under Switzer. “They had the Houston Veer, Dartmouth kind of came up with the counter-option.
“It was big in colleges with Texas and Oklahoma and the Wishbone, so back then a lot of people were running different types of options. The last number of years a lot of people have been running the option, but a lot more out of the shotgun.”
Whether it’s the Redskins, Eagles, Broncos or any of the other 29 NFL teams, the shotgun and option are like that snapback hat you nearly threw away after the Fab Five left Michigan. It’s in—again.
Tags: Barry Switzer, mike shanahan, read option, University of Oklahoma
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