The read option might be coming to the New York Giants based off of the first day of minicamp.
It’s an offense mostly used in college football, but it has come to the NFL in recent years with the crop of mobile quarterbacks that continue to enter the league.
And the Giants might finally have a quarterback on the roster athletic enough to add a new wrinkle into their offense.
All sorts of craziness ensued on Tuesday after Daniel Jones ran the read option to the surprise and delight of Giants fans on social media.
— New York Giants (@Giants) June 4, 2019
This particular offense, which often operates out of the shotgun, lets the quarterback read the defense and decide whether to hand the ball off, run himself or pass.
And while no one expects the Giants to turn to this offense exclusively, it is a compelling package given Jones’ athleticism and the fact that he ran a version of it in college. There is also his quick release, something often overlooked when analyzing the draft’s sixth overall pick. It’s a skill that is a necessity to run the offense effectively.
All of which means that while Jones likely doesn’t start this year over four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Eli Manning, at some point this year the Giants are going to kick the tires on the quarterback of their future.
And when they do eventually give Jones the nod, quarterback trainer Tony Racioppi is convinced that the read option can become a part of their playbook.
“Daniel Jones is a very good athlete with a ton of experience at Duke in the Read Option and RPO Concepts,” Racioppi told MSG Networks. “I think he does bring that dynamic to the Giants’ offense.
“Not just as a threat to run, but also slow down backside defenders in the run which sets up the running game for cutback lanes which [running back] Saquon [Barkley] does really well. I think it’s a nice addition or wrinkle, but not something you’re going to see a ton of just because they’ll want to protect the quarterback for the season.
I do think you’ll see both concepts run in situational football as well as the red zone where defenses are always trying to drop an extra defender in the box to get a ‘plus one’ on the offense.”
Racioppi, a former standout at Rowan and one of the best quarterbacks ever in Division III football history, is now one of the nation’s foremost quarterback gurus. He has worked at TEST Football Academy in central New Jersey with a number of quarterbacks preparing for the NFL Draft. He also trains and mentors NFL quarterbacks in the offseason, including former Giants quarterback Davis Webb among others. His clients also include a number of college quarterbacks who train with him during the offseason.
Because of his reputation, Racioppi has coached at the famed Manning Passing Academy. Last summer, he spent time working with Jones, who was set for his final year at Duke. The then-redshirt senior quarterback was both a volunteer coach and a participant in the camp.
The read option is risky in the NFL given the size and speed of defensive players. The quarterback is prone to big hits or turnovers, a risk that isn’t nearly so high in college where the discrepancies in talent are broader.
But no matter the risks, the zone blocking combined with getting the quarterback out of the pocket can help the offensive line to block and defenses are kept on edge in their pursuit because a mobile quarterback is a threat to not only run, but also pass.
Head coach Pat Shurmur called Jones’ one big play in Tuesday’s minicamp session “a normal zone read.” It is something that the Giants likely will toy around with and develop as Jones continues to be brought along.
“Yes, he obviously moves around well,” Shurmur said. “He is down there around the 4.6 mark. I think he had 17 rushing touchdowns. He can move around and that is a huge part. If a quarterback can move around, not so much on just structured runs but the ability to be able to create a play within a passing play, I think he can do that.”
From his vantage point, Racioppi agrees and sees the Giants opening up their playbook to allow Jones to use his athleticism.
“Daniel is very good at this,” Racioppi said. “Smart, athletic, accurate and tough are the qualities you need from your quarterback to run this stuff. Daniel is all these things.”