You can bet Moore caught some grief in the film room because of that play, from both his coaches and teammates. The fact that he actually stopped and looked at Tuel before deciding to continue after Dixon must have elicited some howls from fellow teammates. But can you blame him? The zone read is in the Buffalo playbook for starter E.J. Manuel, who has the speed to pull off such a play. Tuel isn’t expected to run freely for a first down, even if he is facing a bunch of backups. But that’s the power of the play. When run correctly, the zone read allows When run correctly, the zone read allows quarterbacks to pick up big chunks of yardage with little or no threat of a direct hit. quarterbacks to pick up big chunks of yardage with little or no threat of a direct hit—provided they’re smart enough to slide or get out of bounds at the first sign of potential danger. “I like to refer to it as free yards,” Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell says. “If the defense disregards the quarterback, he’ll take the free yards, get down and get to the next play.” Two seasons ago, the arrivals of mobile rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson and the ascension to starter status by Colin Kaepernick helped add a new element to NFL offenses. Although the rules committee had worked diligently to make it easier for the passing game to thrive, all of a sudden QBs weren’t just launching throws all over the field; they were also launching themselves past the line of scrimmage, often untouched. For years, the trickle of influence in football went from the pros to the college to the prep ranks. With RGIII and the others on the scene, NFL coordinators like Bevell decided to reach into the NCAA for some schematic adjustments that made the most of their players’ talents. Adding the zone read to playbooks did something that hadn’t been around the professional game for a while: it made defenses account for the quarterback in the ground game. Instead of playing 11-on-10 once the ball was handed off, teams now had to worry about the QB sneaking out the back door. By the time the 2013 season ended, zone read use had almost tripled, as teams like the Bills and Eagles added its elements to their playbooks. Under firstyear coach Chip Kelly, who utilized the zone read heavily while at Oregon, Philadelphia used the scheme 31 percent of the time THE WASHINGTON POST/GETTY IMAGES SPORT Robert Griffin III has amassed more than 1,300 yards rushing in two seasons, but concerns about his long term health will keep the Washington QB in the pocket more in 2014.
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