Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham says it’s not defensive coaches who need to be worried about the read-option that’s spreading across the NFL. Instead, Cunningham says the quarterbacks who run the ball in the read-option need to be worried that they won’t hold up for 16 games against NFL defenses.

“The problem is for those quarterbacks, one of these days one of them is not going to walk off,” Cunningham told the Lions’ website. “It’s a lot of pressure on him to physically do that.”

Cunningham has been a defensive assistant in the NFL for 30 years, but he also coached in college football in the 1970s and spent a season as a Canadian Football League assistant, and he says he knows about stopping running quarterbacks and wide-open offenses.

“I think we all understand what the issues are and how to play it,” Cunningham said. “I reflect back on my college days and it wasn’t that hard to remember all that stuff because it put a lot of pressure on me in those days and it does in this league too.”

That’s not to say Cunningham thinks the read-option is just some gimmick that’s easy to figure out. Cunningham said that when the Dolphins ran the Wildcat in 2008, they were running a fundamentally sound offense, and other teams have learned from what the Dolphins said. But the Dolphins were snapping the ball directly to running backs, and Cunningham doesn’t believe any running back can throw the ball well enough to threaten an NFL defense.