Clay Matthews is the reason the read option won’t go main-stream

There’s no doubt that there’s been a push over the last year for teams to begin running unconventional offenses. Players like Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have led that charge, but Packers linebacker Clay Matthews may have the solution for defenses.

“One of the things that the referees have told us is that when these quarterbacks carry out the fakes, they lose their right as a quarterback, a pocket-passing quarterback, the protection of a quarterback,” Matthews said via “So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they're too important to their offense. … So you want to put hits as early and often on the quarterback and make them uncomfortable.”

This is nothing new, and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has already put it out there that Matthews’ approach sounds a lot like “targeting a specific player,” but the fact is hitting players works. How do you stop a potent over-the-middle passing game? Hit the receivers. How do you make a pocket passer uncomfortable? Hit him. This is nothing new.

Still, the sheer number of hits read-option quarterbacks could take may be enough to deter many teams from running the system. Sure, Robert Griffin III will likely still run a read-option play here and there, but the Redskins won’t be putting him in the path of that many hits any time in the near future.

The fact is, defenses are often put into a corner by the NFL’s rules. If, for instance, Colin Kaepernick gets injured on a read-option play after he gets rid of the ball, there may be a “Kaepernick rule” introduced following the season. For now, however, simply hitting the quarterback will probably work. Guys like Colin Kaepernick are simply too expensive and important to be put in the way of danger very often.

About Shane Clemons

Shane Clemons came from humble beginnings creating his own Jaguars blog before moving on to SBNation as a featured writer for the Jaguars. He then moved to Bloguin where he briefly covered the AFC South before taking over Bloguin's Jaguars blog. Since the inception of This Given Sunday, Shane has served as an editor for the site, doing his best not to mess up a good thing.