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NFL: Read-Option Quarterback Can Be Tackled Without The Ball

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Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Franciso 49ers

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

On Wednesday the NFL released a video addressing the new trend of read-option quarterbacks in the League and what can and can not be done to them on certain plays.

In a video, narrated by the Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, they address what a defense can do to quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russel Wilson.

The main question that seems to be answered is: when in the act of the play can the read option QB be hit like a normal runner and when are they still a quarterback?

The clarification Blandino cites in the video is that a Quarterback who hands off the ball but continues to fake like they have it as a runner can be tackled and only normal unnecessary roughness rules apply. Which means a defender may go low to wrap and tackle a quarterback low if that quarterback is in the “posture” of a runner and not of a quarterback.

In the video Blandino explains:

“He is still treated as a runner until he is clearly out of the play. The quarterback makes the pitch, he’s still a runner — he can be hit like a runner until he’s clearly out of the play,” Blandino said.

The simple answer for if a QB can be hit is if they are presenting themselves as a runner or a quarterback. The NFL has said it’s up to the officials discretion on whether or not the quarterback is doing that, or if they have removed themselves from the play. A quarterback who acts like a runner, but then stops and backs out of the play is then again considered a quarterback and can not be unfairly hit.

Blandino goes on to explain:

“The basic concept is, the quarterback position is not defenseless throughout the down. It’s the posture he presents that will dictate his protections,” Blandino said.

Will defenders see this explination as an option to take shots at these quarterbacks who have thrown a wrinkle in the defensive schemes of their opponents? And, will read-option quarterbacks try to remain in a quarterback posture more to reduce the likelihood of being hit or possibly picking up more penalties?

With week one fully kicking off on Sunday we wont have to wait long to see what happens.

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