Before you think about it for long, the Bears running any sort of read-option attack seems like the kind of scheming a coach would do if he’s sitting on a couch somewhere with a fresh copy of Madden in one hand, and heavily buttered popcorn in the other. Then after a few moments of thinking, you see that even if it’s only a randomly used wrinkle, it just might work.
The possibility of the Bears following the NFL trend that’s grown larger than Pogs in their prime comes from Brad Biggs, the Chicago Tribune beat writer who’s observed all things read-option during the early days of Bears training camp, their first under new head coach Marc Trestman. He’s seen it repeatedly, enough to wonder if it’s not just some late July experimenting and tinkering.
Specifically, Biggs has seen this…
The quarterbacks have been running a dash (half roll) off the play fake, moving outside the pocket where a throwing lane should open off play action. When they hand the ball off, it’s an inside zone play much like what the Packers do with Aaron Rodgers on occasion.
In the progression of a play, the next step would be a zone read for the quarterback, the kind of offense that shook up the NFL last season and sent defensive coaches scurrying to the college level this offseason for answers to stop it.
At best right now this is intriguing, and all we can do is wonder, and speculate, and wonder some more. So let’s get to that.
You probably laughed heartily at the mental image of Jay Cutler trying to run the read-option, because you don’t associate any sort of speed or high-level mobility with him. And you’re sort of wrong.
Cutler isn’t Colin Kaepernick, and he isn’t Cam Newton or Robert Griffin III or Michael Vick or Russell Wilson or Quarterback X who’s really fast and stuff. That’s not his game, and it never will be, which is just fine. In fact, despite the sudden growth of the read-option last year, only a fraction of the league’s starting quarterbacks can correctly be labeled as a running QB.
But many of the rest can run, and they can scramble, and they are athletic. They don’t have that same open-field speed and the ability to breakaway from a defensive back. But if there’s a hole, they can see it, and turn it into a first down. Jay Cutler is one of those guys.
Much like Aaron Rodgers, Cutler is able to create with his legs when called upon. Rodgers is often praised for that same little bit of bonus gravy sauce in his game, and rightfully so. Thing is, he rushed for 259 yards last year, while Cutler wasn’t far behind with 233 yards. Over their careers (93 games for Cutler, and 83 for Rodgers), the Packers quarterback has 1,442 rushing yards, and Cutler has 1,116.
You don’t need blinding speed to effectively run the read-option. You need the threat of a run, and the threat of gaining chunk yardage. Cutler can present that, and if Trestman does include the read-option as even a side dish to the main course of his offense, it’ll only help the production of Matt Forte, with defenses having to be wary of multiple threats.
We can only conclude that Marc Trestman owns Forte on all of his fantasy teams.