Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 3/26/13
During the offseason, many NFL players will go back to college to earn their degrees if they skipped out of school early to enter the league. This winter, the Falcons’ defensive staff went to Clemson University for a different reason — and no, they didn’t go streaking to the quad like Will Ferrell in Old School. With quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson sweeping the league, the Atlanta coaches went to the Tigers’ facility to learn to defend the read option, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “[The Falcons] are trying to learn more about what we do and how we defend what we do,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told the media. “Yet, we were able to take a lot from them as well. I’d be surprised if there’s an NFL team that hasn’t gone and spent time with college coaches this offseason.” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said at the NFL scouting combine that his team would spend time this offseason trying to stop the new scheme. The read-option offense came over from the college game within the past few years. There were doubts that Newton could pick up an NFL offense coming out of Auburn in 2011, so the Panthers used pieces of his college offense to help. The 49ers, Seahawks and Redskins all made the playoffs in 2012 using read-option looks, and the NFL has taken notice. The Falcons will play the Seahawks, 49ers and Panthers in 2013. They lost to San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game last season. Photo via Facebook/Atlanta Falcons from B/R

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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