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Down. Set. Blue 42, blue 42. Hut. Hut.
With the beginning of fall semester, there is always something that follows, something I look forward to all year: the start of football season. And there is just one more day until that blessed event.
As with every football year, there are questions that, hopefully, will be answered. This year, the NFL has a few of these questions, the major one being the transition that took the league by storm during last season. Something that offensive coordinators have been sweating trying to figure out. That would be the read option.
Last season, three rookie quarterbacks and one second-year quarterback had their coming-out parties. With the exception of Andrew Luck, these quarterbacks brought something to the league that it wasn’t entirely ready to stop: a mobile quarterback who could also pass the ball effectively.
To try and figure out the way to stop this offense, many defensive coordinators went to college football coaches to study and try to dissect the read option. Eyes will be on the defenses. It will be up to them to decide if this offense is the future of the NFL or if it is just the “flavor of the month.”
Another thing to watch for is the return of Robert Griffin III. He is the living embodiment of concerns both for and against the read option. In the latter part of the previous season, Griffin was injured on a scramble. His knee twisted and snapped back when he was tackled to the ground. Griffin decided to finish the season with a brace on his knee. In the first round of the playoffs against the Seahawks, Griffin had a snap sail over his head, and as he adjusted to pick it up, his knee buckled. He ended up tearing his ACL, thus ending his stellar rookie season.
Griffin was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year, setting the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season. That showed just how effective the read option could be. But at the same time, it raised concerns of whether you should put your franchise quarterback, especially one who is also an effective drop-back passer, at risk. We will see how quarterbacks handle and take measures to protect themselves.
The other big thing to look for this season is the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles brought in Chip Kelly, who had a very successful tenure at the University of Oregon. The football world has its eyes on Kelly and the new offense he plans to bring into the NFL. He wants the ball snapped every 12 seconds. This ultra-sped-up offense could be revolutionary in the NFL if it catches on.
Kelly previously had discussions with Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots, about different types of offenses. The Patriots established a hurry-up-tempo offense last season, and it flourished against many opponents as the Patriots led the league, averaging just under 35 points a game.
Kelly is viewed as a revolutionary football mind, and as of right now, no one outside of the Eagles team knows what to expect.
The season will put these two stories together in Week 1, along with two playoff rematches. The Eagles will face the Washington Redskins and Griffin. The Broncos will host the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens tomorrow night. The Ravens beat the Broncos in the divisional round after an ill-timed jump by a defender forced overtime.
Perhaps the biggest matchup of week one will be a divisional rematch between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. This game was the coming-out party for 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who rushed for 181 yards in that game, a quarterback record. The Packers are one of the teams that has been studying the read option, and we will have to see what the result will be.
So, sit back and enjoy football season while it is here. Because before you know it, it will be Feb. 3, and football will be gone.