INDIANAPOLIS – Over the first five weeks of the Colts regular season, the Indianapolis defense is in a three-round fight with the read option.
Round One went the distance with the Colts defense surviving Terrelle Pryor’s punches (legs) for a 21-17 victory.
Round Two figures to be even more difficult as the 49ers have the pieces around Colin Kaepernick that are Super Bowl caliber.
What is needed to have the arm raised after Round Two?
“You’ve got to be disciplined,” Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano said on Wednesday. “You’ve got to be focused. You’ve got to be on the same page. You’ve got to communicate. Guys got to be in the right spots.
In mid-November last year, Kaepernick took the reigns of the 49ers offense and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
Thanks to Kaepernick’s performance (and Russell Wilson), NFL coaches scoured the college ranks this offseason to try and formulate a plan to slow down the read option.
Kaepernick’s blend of an MLB-type arm and long stride running has the Colts coaches on high alert heading into Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. kickoff.
“All 11 guys got to be on the same page and all 11 guys got to be doing their job,” Pagano says of defending the read option.
“You can go back to when I was playing, it was wishbone; you take care of the dive, then you take care of the quarterback, then you take care of the pitch. You don’t see as much of the pitch, obviously, in pro football right now with the read option. But you got to have guys in place, and sometimes more than just one assigned to any aspect of the option.”
While Kaepernick said on a Wednesday conference call that the read option is just a part of the 49ers offense, there’s no denying its success when run.
According to NBC, Kaepernick ran 54 read option plays during the playoffs last year.
-In 41 handoffs, the 49ers gained 253 yards (6.2 yards per rush) and scored four touchdowns.
-In 8 quarterback keepers, Kaepernick ran for 102 yards (12.8 per rush) and scored one touchdown.
-In 5 passes, Kaepernick was 3-of-5 for 79 yards and one interception.
That’s the challenge for the Colts this weekend as they are two weeks removed from facing a similar quarterback in Pryor.
“When he drops back to pass if it’s not there you know he can beat you scrambling around,” Pagano said earlier this week. “We got to be very, very disciplined with our pass rush lane integrity. Then in the back end if he does break outside the pocket and start to scramble, we got to do a great job of plastering and sticking the guys in the back end so they don’t give up a free play.”