An offensive play that involves giving several different options to a quarterback. Most option plays are run plays where the quarterback makes a decision about who will carry the ball after the snap and while the play develops. Option plays rely on quarterbacks who are mobile and make good decisions and require several players on the field who are comfortable carrying the football.
Option plays rely on a large amount of misdirection. The most common option is the "triple option". In a triple option, the quarterback takes the snap and then has three potential plays: a handoff up the middle to a running back, a rollout where he carries the ball himself, and a pitch to a faster back on the outside. The purpose behind these plays is to keep the defense off balance by forcing them to guard each of the possibilities effectively. The option can be modified to use a variety of different players on the field, including running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. Most quarterbacks who run option plays are faster and more agile since they need to run the ball rather than throw it. Big plays can occur when the defense reacts poorly to the wrong option or gets caught by the misdirection.