Courtesy of wivb.com

The Buffalo Bills recently hired Doug Marrone as their new head coach and Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. This is a great pairing since Marrone hired Hackett to be his offensive coordinator at Syracuse University in 2010, so the chemistry is already there. The reason I am so interested in these two hires is quite simple – Marrone has included a read option in his offenses before and is great at designing blocking schemes.

Now, the Washington Redskins have Robert Griffin III, the San Francisco 49ers have Colin Kaepernick, and the Carolina Panthers have Cam Newton, all of whom are great at running the option. So here is what the Bills need to do. First, they need to get Joe Webb, the Vikings backup quarterback, and name him their starter. Then they need to find him a backup, preferably a younger player, and a mentor, preferably a veteran, and hire them.

The reason Webb would be a good fit is that he is a physical athlete with great speed. This means that defenses would not only have to prepare for running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson but also Webb. In his three seasons as a backup, Webb rushed for 341 yards and four touchdowns, losing just two fumbles. The best part of the trade is that the Bills wouldn’t be breaking bank, since Webb’s salary next year is projected to come in just under $600,000.

Michael Vick would be my pick for a mentor for Webb if the Bills were to build around the read option. When Vick was with Atlanta from 2004 to 2006, he ran for 2,535 yards, 11 touchdowns, and lost 15 fumbles using the read-option. Now, over the past two seasons, Vick has scrambled for 921 yards, two touchdowns, and lost nine fumbles. Due to this decline in production, I wouldn’t start him, but he would make a good mentor and backup to Webb. However, there are three problems with Vick. The first is that Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly may keep Vick since he used a read option offense when he was the head coach at the University of Oregon. The second is that Vick is 32 years old. The last is his hefty price tag of $15 million.

With a less expensive salary of $2.5 million, Tim Tebow makes the list as a potential backup. Now, I don’t like Tebow, but if the Jets release or trade him, he wouldn’t make such a bad backup in a read heavy offense. He is undoubtedly one of the best dual threat quarterbacks that college has ever seen, making the most of the Urban Meyer’s spread-option offense while down in Florida. Furthermore, in his only season as a starter in the NFL, which was in 2011 for the Denver Broncos, Tebow racked up 660 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. However, his accuracy was a dismal 46.5 percent due to his poor throwing mechanics, and you have to have a viable passer or else the defense will just focus on the run and shut you down in a run-heavy, read option offense.

On that note, I think that Vince Young, who the Bills cut before last season even started, could be a good mentor and backup if the Bills brought him back. Young ran an option offense in his 2006 and 2007 seasons while playing for the Tennessee Titans, picking up 947 yards, 10 touchdowns, and losing six fumbles in that time. His accuracy is also better than the other quarterbacks listed above and he is extremely mobile. Moreover, his last contract was for a mere $350,000, so he is quite affordable.
The most cost-effective combination of quarterbacks would be to get Webb as a starter, use Tebow as a backup, and employ Young as a mentor and third string quarterback. However, because Webb probably won’t be too much of a financial burden, the Bills may be able to take Vick as a mentor and second string quarterback, and add Tebow or Young to the roster as a third string quarterback.

In any case, building a team around the option may make the Bills a real playoff contender in the near future.

Ondo is a member of the class of 2014.



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