On a play, one WR/TE/RB may be given the “option” of running two or three different pre-determined routes. It’s the WR’s call based on the coverage. He can decide at the line of scrimmage, or sometime during the play.
Not only must he need to read the defense, but must be an excellent route runner with good quickness to turn on a dime when he changes his mind if the defense bites, or leaves a spot open.
As of right now, experienced depth and chemistry with Blake Bortles is a little thin. On the tight end side, things don’t look much better. All those drops week 1 aren’t inspiring.
*to note: this is football 101, things are simply explained and usually/typically can be inserted into most sentences.
I stressed experience because it matters in reading defenses, plus it also relies heavily on the quarterback, too.
While there are dozens of various routes that can be run, only three options max are decided upon because a) the quarterback has to be aware enough of which routes he could run, while watching his other receivers plus the defense and b) only so many are realistic.
FYI, not many TE’s are given the option because their route running isn’t good enough, nor is their “sell”. However, when you have the best like Rob Gronkowski (Jason Whitten was better), they can torch defenses.
When the receiver and QB are on the same page, they’re extremely dangerous to defenses unless you have DB’s who can cover really well. This teamwork builds over time, the duo reading each other’s minds almost. The best way to pull these off is to have more than two players who can effectively run them.
Also need is a QB who is experienced enough to go through his progressions. Right now, our corps is iffy and the jury is out on how well Bortles handles the option with this raw group.
In the NFL, WR’s aren’t just trying to get open, the option can also be used to trick defenses to think the ball is going one way. Call it a dummy option. The stem route is crucial.
Below are the very basic routes. On an option, they could have the choice of a comeback, curl or a fade because his coverage is blown. Or maybe, at the LOS the WR starts out thinking slant, but turns it into a go. He could fake a flat, but instead turn back and run a fade or out. There are dozens and dozens of route combos based off this tree, but it gives you an idea.
Bad things happen when the QB/WR/TE aren’t on the same page. If the WR choses a comeback, but the QB doesn’t see it or lacks the arm for the throw, if you’re lucky, it’s only an incomplete. Some veteran WR’s know what skills their QB’s are better/worse at and even though a tougher route could give bigger gains, chooses the easier one.
A five yard gain beats an interception on a deep comeback. An inexperienced receiver or even a more seasoned TE, might not have enough knowledge to know, so they choose the glory play over what their QB excels at.
This is why Jax may keep options to a minimum, at least for 1/2 the season. With questions at the WR position, there may not be enough time to get that chemistry going. While the onus is on the receiver to pick the right option because of his skill at reading the defense (and beating coverage), the QB’s savvy can’t be overlooked.