Miami Dolphins: How Ryan Tannehill Can Use Read-Option to Attack Buffalo Bills

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IDecember 21, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 16:  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins scrambles against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Sun Life Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins spent the No. 8 overall pick in the 2012 draft on a quarterback with top-notch athleticism, and it only took them until Week 15 of the regular season before they finally learned how to best use that athletic ability.

In the same week, the Buffalo Bills were exposed by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's superior athleticism.

They both did it using the read-option, the formation which is more popularly known as the only viable offense for one Tim Tebow.

The read-option is exactly what its name implies. The quarterback has one player he "reads" on a given play. The running back and the quarterback meet at what is called the "mesh point," where the ball is still in the hands of the quarterback. The quarterback has the "option" to either hand it off to the back or to take it for himself, depending on what the player being read does.

Wilson's 14-yard touchdown run on the opening drive was the prime example of why big runs happen on the read-option.

The read on this run is Bills defensive end Mario Williams (circled in red), but just because he's the read on the play, doesn't mean he's the one responsible for the touchdown.

Fox analyst John Lynch pointed out why the play was so successful:

Watch Mario Williams; he's going to have the dive. If he has that, Bryan Scott's gotta be on Russell Wilson. Instead, Bryan Scott takes the bait on the fake, (leaving) Russell Wilson all alone and that's too much speed for Bryan Scott to recover. You've got to be on your assignments.

If Scott (circled in blue) plays the right assignment and doesn't bite on the fake to Lynch at the mesh point, he might have been in position to stop this from turning into a touchdown.

It happened again.

This time, though, the mark was defensive end Kyle Moore (red), who once again took the dive, thus prompting Wilson to take the run off left tackle. 

There were no players caught wildly out of position this time; just Wilson putting his speed on display to pick up 19 yards on the rush.

Lynch was back with more analysis:

Well, if you aren't going to play it correctly, they'll keep running it. Again here, Kyle Moore comes down on the dive, but someone's got to loop around on Russell Wilson on the keeper. They're not on their assignments, and they'll continue to run it as long as they aren't.

Tannehill had a pair of zone-read runs against the Jaguars, but none of them were as explosive as Wilson's runs.

The first was a nine-yard carry on 2nd-and-4, which helped the Dolphins move into the red zone.

Much like Wilson's runs, the read on the play was a defensive end, Jeremy Mincey of the Jaguars. 

Much like the Bills defensive ends on the previous plays, Mincey bit on the running back and lost containment on the edge, allowing Tannehill to scurry for a quick nine yards.

It took long enough for the Dolphins to finally make use of Tannehill's athleticism, but now that they have, they shouldn't look back as they look ahead to a showdown with a Bills defense that already showed some weaknesses in defending the read-option this past week.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.