It was one game. Colin Kaepernick had one bad game in Week 2 of the 2013 NFL season. But, it was emblematic of the bigger picture of what is happening to the read-option and running quarterbacks in the NFL.
Can teams have it both ways? It is not a question of whether those quarterbacks can develop into great pocket passers because they are talented enough to do so. But, the threat of the run and the options to go with it may be fading out.
So, then, what is the point to having the read-option if a running quarterback is no longer going to be running?
Are NFL teams headed towards dual quarterback systems in which a read-option type combines with a pocket passer type to alternate downs or drives? If so, then trading Alex Smith was a huge mistake by the San Francisco 49ers.
Running, read-option quarterbacks might only have a shelf-life of two or three seasons and teams may end up plugging the hole every two or three years with another young gun. If that is the case, then Alex Smith could have stayed with the 49ers and could have been that stable force that is partnered up with Kaepernick until his running days come to an end.
Defenses seem to be quickly figuring out how to hit read-option quarterback after they have handed the ball off. It was demonstrated best in last year’s Super Bowl by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs on Kaepernick.
If teams don’t want to run the read-option for fear of losing a quarterback, then, what was the point of it to begin with?
It’s a new NFL, as Chip Kelly and Michael Vick are proving out in Philadelphia. More plays are made per game than ever before in the league’s history by the Eagles offense. Vick has been through all of the above when it comes to pocket passer development and now he’s back doing what he did best and running the ball more.
I always argued that Vick could have won a Super Bowl with Atlanta back in the day had he run some kind of wishbone-style option. At the time, the read-option hadn’t been developed yet.
And, isn’t winning a Super Bowl what all of this is really about? If Kaepernick, RG3, Newton or Wilson were to win just one Super Bowl in their careers (like Kaepernick almost did last season or when Vick got as far as the NFC Championship game), wouldn’t it all be worth it?
Of course, just one championship is plenty fine. Not ideal, but better than none.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com