Read-option plan: Hit the quarterback

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Earlier this summer, in our Green Bay Packers' Camp Confidential, we discussed how much time defensive coordinator Dom Capers has spent working against the read-option offense.

At least a portion of almost every training camp practice was dedicated to defending the scheme that caught the Packers off guard in last year’s 45-31 playoff loss at San Francisco, where the Packers allowed 579 yards (including an NFL-quarterback rushing record of 181 yards by Colin Kaepernick). Capers and his staff implemented what they learned during a pair of offseason study sessions with college coaches, at Texas A&M and Wisconsin, who had more experience with that scheme.

Certainly, there are many complexities to defending the read-option.

But listening to Packers OLB Clay Matthews Monday on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike it might be as simple as hitting the quarterback. So expect to see the Packers take as many shots as possible on Kaepernick during Sunday’s regular-season opener at Candlestick Park.

“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 on Mike & Mike. “So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they’re too important to their offense. If that means they pull them out of that type of offense and make them run a traditional, drop-back, pocket-style offense, I think that’s exactly what we’re going for. So you want to put hits as early and often on the quarterback and make them uncomfortable.”

As has been discussed at length, the Packers are expecting to see a heavy dose of read-option offense the first two weeks of the season with Kaepernick this week and Washington’s Robert Griffin III in Week 2.

“I can tell you right now, we started from Day 1 in OTAs when we came back in the offseason working on this read-option, pistol, fake offense for lack of a better term,” Matthews said. “We’ve definitely been working on it. You see this trend with quarterbacks you mentioned, Kaepernick, RGIII, (Seattle’s Russell) Wilson, so it’s around the league now. It’s definitely a part of offenses, so it’s something to have in our defensive game plan, something to game plan for. We’ve been working on it, especially after what we saw last year in the playoffs specifically and then opening up the season with two of these quarterbacks. We’re ready. We feel good about it.”