Changing zone read from post snap to pre snap

With all of this zone-read, zone-option talk that’s been the forefront of discussion for the better part of a decade, I’m sure everyone feels comfortable with the basic design of the play. I’ve written about it, Chris B Brown from Smart Football has, everyone has. However, this season we must adapt our spread zone option run game because of a change of guard at the QB position. Where last season two of our three QB’s on the roster were run threats, this year our QB is less inclined to run the option and more inclined to sling the ball.

What this change in philosophy and stylization has done is put my offensive coordinator and myself back to the drawing board (which was located in a local restaurant on Taco Tuesday). We wanted to keep our offense basically in tact, especially our verbiage. Thus what we did to offset for the fact that our new QB isn’t a running threat is change who he reads and what his ‘options’ are in the option game.

ex. Inside Zone

Many coaches have a bubble off their IZ play to keep DC’s and defensive players honest. However, often times the QB is still reading the DE post-snap as whether to give, keep, or throw the screen (and sometimes only a combination of those). In the past, we had an IZ play with the end as the read for give/keep, and a play-action pass off IZ which was an end read for the QB who had to determine whether he would keep or throw the screen. With our new philosophy, the QB will read the OLB pre-snap to determine his read. If the OLB leaves the box (plays head up or splits the difference) our QB will give to the back.


However, if the OLB stays in the box and we get a FS off the ball over #2, we’re throwing to the slot. We can call up variations as well, so that it’s not always bubble.


Using rules

Our rule will be that the read happens to the side with the most wide receivers. This will eliminate confusion in our 11 personnel 2×2 sets. The Y (TE) being on the line in a 3 point stance eliminates him being tagged a WR and means the read happens away from him.


The beauty of it all is our offensive line, running back, and receivers can run the play without any thought. The back is always looking for the handoff, the receivers are always running routes and looking for the ball, and the line is always blocking their zone as if it’s a running play. The only player that has to be completely coached up is the QB, who will make his pre-snap read and go from there.


For the past two seasons, our QB has made checks at the line that have been picked up by the opposition over the course of the game (and like a good battery in baseball, we switched our calls up after halftime to ensure some confusion for the defense). In this new system, we don’t have to make checks, as the QB will see them visually and the receivers are already running the passing game concepts, while the back and line are running the running game concepts.