Run-oriented QBs and NFC West mythology

2012 Zone Read + Option + Option Pitch

The plays NFC West quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson made with their legs last season added a wrinkle to their teams' offenses.

The chart should help us keep that aspect of their games in perspective. It shows Seattle running zone read, option and option pitch plays 5.6 percent of the time, according to game charting by ESPN Stats & Information. The figure was 4.5 percent for the 49ers.

Even if those figures doubled in 2013, neither player would be primarily a running quarterback. Neither would be running a potentially unsustainable offense unless both invited contact with unusual frequency (on the contact subject, note that opponents hit Andrew Luck while throwing a league-high 51 times last season, compared to nine times for Wilson and six times for Kaepernick).

Wilson and Kaepernick were dangerous runners, of course. They were passers first, however. Both were effective from the pocket. Wilson was particularly effective from outside the pocket.

So, the next time someone implies that offenses featuring run-oriented quarterbacks might be tough to sustain over time, make sure they're really talking about such an offense. The ones in San Francisco and Seattle wouldn't qualify based on what we've seen to this point.

Note: Some have asked about percentages late in the season, particularly after Kaepernick became a starter. The 49ers' percentage was 5.7 from Week 10 through the end of the regular season. Seattle's percentage jumped to 11.8 over that span.

Remember, though, that running backs can carry the ball on these plays, not just quarterbacks. Marshawn Lynch had 25 carries on these plays over the full season, compared to 19 for Wilson. The 49ers' Frank Gore had 16, compared to 13 for Kaepernick.