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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Quick thought on Gore and option runs

By Mike Sando


NEW ORLEANS -- Watching NFC West running backs Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch charge through the line of scrimmage untouched on option runs got me to thinking about long-term implications.



I wondered whether incorporating option tactics into an offense more fully could increase the percentage of yards gained before contact. That would certainly help offenses. Might it also help running backs stay fresher? There's not nearly enough evidence to say for sure. On the surface, though, getting hit by members of the secondary after building momentum sure beats the alternative from a wear-and-tear standpoint.

As the chart shows, Gore has more yardage on option runs in two playoff games than he gained during the 16-game regular season. His per-carry average has spiked on these runs, as has the percentage of yardage gained before contact.

Relevant defenders outnumber relevant offensive players on the typical rushing play. That is because the quarterback isn't a threat on these runs. The option rushing game evens up the numbers by forcing defenders to account for quarterbacks as legitimate runners. Running backs can face more favorable matchups as a result.

Note: Gore, guard Alex Boone and fullback Bruce Miller offer related thoughts on the option in the video above.