INDIANAPOLIS – The Falcons barely beat one mobile quarterback in the playoffs (the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson) and barely lost to another (the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick).
They will face each again in the 2013 regular season, as the Falcons are paired against the four teams from the NFC West. And they also have to play the NFC South-rival Panthers and Cam Newton twice a season.
Wilson ran seven times for 60 yards and a touchdown in the Seahawks’ two-point loss to the Falcons in the divisional round of the playoffs, while Kaepernick had 21 yards on two carries in the 49ers’ four-point victory in the NFC Championship game. Newton, meanwhile, ran for 86 and 116 yards against the Falcons and scored a TD in each of their regular-season games.
So it’s no surprise that Atlanta coach Mike Smith is putting an emphasis on defending the zone-read – or read-option, if you will.
“I know I vetted our coaching staff that we’re going to spend a whole lot of time, because it could be the wave of the future,” Smith said on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I’m not saying that it will be, but it could be.
“More and more college teams are running that style of offense. And we’re going to have to be prepared to play it. We’re going to play it again next year. We’re playing the NFC West and we play it twice in our division. So it’s something that we want to make sure that we have a very good understanding of.”