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Encyclopedia > West coast offense

In American football, "West Coast Offense" ("WCO") is one of two similar but distinct offensive-strategic-systems of play: (A) the "Air Coryell" system; or (B) more commonly the pass play system popularized by Bill Walsh. However, WCO may simply refer to an offense that places a greater emphasis on passing than on running. United States simply as football, is a competitive team sport that is both fast-paced and strategic. ... William Ernest Walsh (November 30, 1931 – July 30, 2007) was an American head football coach of the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford University, and the inventor of the West Coast Offense. ...

Contents

History and use of the term

The term "West Coast Offense," as it is now commonly used, derives from a 1993 Bernie Kosar quote, publicized by Sports Illustrated writer Paul Zimmerman (or "Dr. Z"). Originally the term referred to the "Air Coryell" system used by two west coast teams beginning in the 1970s, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. However, a reporter mistakenly applied Kosar's quote about the Air Coryell system to the 1980s-era attack of Walsh's San Francisco 49ers.[1] Initially, Walsh resisted having the term misapplied to his own distinct system, but the moniker stuck. Now the term is also commonly used to refer to pass-offenses that may not be closely-related to either the Air Coryell system or Walsh's pass-strategy. Bernard Joseph Kosar, Jr. ... The first issue of Sports Illustrated, August 16, 1954, showing Milwaukee Braves star Eddie Mathews at bat in Milwaukee County Stadium. ... Paul Lionel Zimmerman (born October 23, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), known to many fans as Dr. Z, is an American football sportswriter who currently writes for the weekly magazine Sports Illustrated. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with American football plays. ... Chargers redirects here. ... League/Conference affiliations American Football League (1960–1969) Western Division (1960–1969) National Football League (1970–present) American Football Conference (1970–present) AFC West (1970–present) Current uniform Team colors Silver and Black Personnel Owner Al Davis General Manager Al Davis Head Coach Lane Kiffin Team history Oakland Raiders (1960... City San Francisco, California Other nicknames Niners, The Red And Gold, Bay Bombers Team colors Cardinal red, metallic gold and black Head Coach Mike Nolan Owner Denise DeBartolo York and John York General manager Lal Heneghan Mascot Sourdough Sam League/Conference affiliations All-America Football Conference (1946-1949) Western Division...


West Coast Offense: Air Coryell

Kosar used the term to describe the offense formalized by Sid Gillman with the AFL Chargers in the 1960s and later by Don Coryell's St. Louis Cardinals and Chargers in the 1970s and 1980s. Al Davis, an assistant under Gillman, also carried his version to the Oakland Raiders, where his successors John Rauch, John Madden, and Tom Flores continued to employ and expand upon its basic principles. This is the "West Coast Offense" as Kosar originally used the term. However, it is now commonly referred to as the "Air Coryell" timed system, and the term West Coast Offense is usually instead used to describe Bill Walsh's system. Sidney Sid Gillman (October 26, 1911 - January 3, 2003) was an American football coach and innovator. ... Note: There were three earlier and unrelated major American professional football leagues of the same name: One in 1926, one in 1936-1937 and one in 1940-1941. ... Don Coryell (born October 17, 1924) is a former American football coach, who coached in the NFL first with the St. ... City Glendale, Arizona Other nicknames The Cards, The Birds, Big Red, The Buzzsaw Team colors Cardinal Red, Black, and White Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt Owner Bill Bidwill General manager Rod Graves Mascot Big Red League/Conference affiliations National Football League (1920–present) Western Division (1933-1949) American Conference (1950-1952... For other persons named Al Davis, see Al Davis (disambiguation). ... John Rauch (born August 20, 1927 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a retired American football coach and player. ... John Earl Madden (born April 10, 1936) is a former National Football League player, head coach, and a Pro Football Hall-of-Famer. ... Thomas R. Tom Flores (born March 21, 1937 in Fresno, California) is a retired Mexican-American football quarterback and coach. ...


The offense uses a specific naming system, with the routes for wideouts and tight ends receiving three digit numbers, and routes for backs having unique names. For example, a pass play in 3 digit form might be "Split Right 787 check swing, check V". (see Offensive Nomenclature). This provides an efficient way to communicate many different plays with minimal memorization. American football strategy takes many forms, and is not always about the strength and size of the two teams. ...


Walsh's West Coast Offense

Walsh formulated what has become popularly known as the West Coast Offense during his tenure as assistant coach for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1968-75, while working under the tutelage of mentor Paul Brown. Walsh installed a modified version of this system when he became head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Walsh's 49ers won three Super Bowls during this period, and as a result, Walsh's version has come to be known as the "West Coast Offense." League/Conference affiliations American Football League (1968-1969) Western Division (1968-1969) National Football League (1970–present) American Football Conference (1970-present) AFC Central (1970-2001) AFC North (2002-present) Current uniform Team colors Black, Orange, White Mascot Who Dey Personnel Owner Mike Brown General Manager {{{general manager}}} Head Coach... Paul Eugene Brown (September 7, 1908 - August 5, 1991) was an athletics coach of American football and a major figure in the development of the National Football League. ... City San Francisco, California Other nicknames Niners, The Red And Gold, Bay Bombers Team colors Cardinal red, metallic gold and black Head Coach Mike Nolan Owner Denise DeBartolo York and John York General manager Lal Heneghan Mascot Sourdough Sam League/Conference affiliations All-America Football Conference (1946-1949) Western Division... The winning Super Bowl team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy. ...


Several of Walsh's coordinators went on to successfully implement this system at other teams. George Seifert won two Super Bowls with the 49ers. Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos. Mike Holmgren won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers and coached in another with the Seattle Seahawks. Holmgren's assistant Jon Gruden went on to win a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. George Seifert (born January 22, 1940 in San Francisco, California) is a former NFL head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers. ... Michael Edward Shanahan (born August 24, 1952) is an American football coach of the Denver Broncos in the National Football League. ... League/Conference affiliations American Football League (1960-1969) Western Division (1960-1969) National Football League (1970–present) American Football Conference (1970–present) AFC West (1970–present) Current uniform Team colors Broncos Navy Blue, Orange, White[1] Mascot Thunder II (live horse) Miles (person in costume suit) Personnel Owner Pat Bowlen... Michael George Holmgren (born June 15, 1948 in San Francisco, California) is a National Football League American football coach, and was named as the sixth head coach of the Seattle Seahawks on January 8, 1999. ... Packers redirects here. ... City Seattle, Washington Team colors Pacific Blue, Navy Blue, Neon Green, White Head Coach Mike Holmgren Owner Paul Allen General manager Tim Ruskell Mascot Blitz, and Taima the hawk League/Conference affiliations National Football League (1976–present) American Football Conference (1977-2001) AFC West (1977-2001) National Football Conference (1976... Jon Gruden (born August 17, 1963 in Sandusky, Ohio) is the current head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. Prior to taking over as coach of Tampa Bay, he was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders for 4 years. ... League/Conference affiliations National Football League (1976–present) American Football Conference (1976) AFC West (1976) National Football Conference (1977-present) NFC Central (1977-2001) NFC South (2002-present) Current uniform Team colors Buccaneer Red, Pewter, Black, Orange, White Mascot Captain Fear Personnel Owner Malcolm Glazer General Manager Bruce Allen Head...


At the college level, LaVell Edwards and Dewey Warren created an offensive system similar to the West Coast Offense at Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1973[2] This offense culminated in a NCAA Division I-A national football championship for BYU in 1984 and a Heisman Trophy for Ty Detmer in 1990. BYU broke over 100 NCAA records for passing and total offense during Edwards' tenure. Several coaches and players associated with BYU's football program had success with this offense at BYU and elsewhere including: Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid, Brian Billick, Ted Tollner, Doug Scovil, Norm Chow, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Ty Detmer, and Steve Sarkisian among others. The reason for the success in this version of the offense is that it cuts down on complexity. Norm Chow says offenses have around 12 basic pass plays and 5 basic run plays (with screens)--those plays are run from many formations, with plays tagged for a little versatility, so that the players know the offense by the second day of practice. Former Pittsburgh and Stanford head coach Walt Harris also used a variation of the West Coast Offense during his stint at Pittsburgh. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... , Brigham Young University (BYU), located in Provo, Utah, is a private coeducational school completely owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church) and run under the auspices of its Church Educational System. ... The NCAA Division I-A national football championship is the only Division I NCAA-sponsored sport without an organized tournament to determine its champion; in fact, while various other organizations (as described below) designate a national champion at the Division I level, the NCAA itself does not award a championship... Ty Hubert Detmer (born October 30, 1967 in San Marcos, Texas) is a former American football quarterback who starred at Brigham Young University. ... Michael George Holmgren (born June 15, 1948 in San Francisco, California) is a National Football League American football coach, and was named as the sixth head coach of the Seattle Seahawks on January 8, 1999. ... For the football (soccer) player, see Andy Reid (footballer). ... Brian Billick (February 28, 1954) has been the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League since January 19, 1999. ... Ted Tollner (born May 29, 1940) is a football coach who has worked as a head coach in college football and as an assistant coach in the National Football League. ... Norman Chow (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; born May 3, 1946) is the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, a National Football League team. ... James Robert Jim McMahon (born August 21, 1959 in Jersey City, New Jersey) was an American football star in the 1980s, first at Brigham Young University and later in the professional ranks with the Chicago Bears. ... Jon Steven Young (born October 11, 1961 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA), is a former quarterback for the National Football Leagues San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Los Angeles Express of the short-lived United States Football League. ... Ty Hubert Detmer (born October 30, 1967 in San Marcos, Texas) is a former American football quarterback who starred at Brigham Young University. ... Steve Sarkisian (born March 8, 1974) is a coach and former player of American football. ... Having no offical mascot, the athletic teams at Stanford University are referred to as Stanford Cardinal. ... Walt Harris (born November 9, 1946 in South San Francisco, California) is a college football coach. ...


Theory

The popular term "West Coast Offense" is more of a philosophy and an approach to the game than it is a set of plays or formations. Traditional offensive thinking argues that a team must establish their running game first, which will draw the defense in and open up vertical passing lanes downfield (i.e., passing lanes that run perpendicular to the line of scrimmage). This article does not cite its references or sources. ...


Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense, however, differs from traditional offense by instead emphasizing a short, horizontal passing attack to help stretch the defense out, thus opening up running lanes. The West Coast Offense as implemented under Walsh features precisely run pass patterns by the receivers that make up about 65% to 80% of the offensive scheme. With the defense stretched out, the offense is then free to focus the remaining plays on longer throws (more than 14 yards) and mid to long yard rushes. The wide receiver (WR) position in American and Canadian football is the pass-catching specialist. ...


Desired Outcome

Walsh's West Coast Offense attempts to open up running and passing lanes for the backs and receivers to exploit, by causing the defense to concentrate on short passes. Since most down and distance situations can be attacked with a pass or a run, the intent is to make offensive play calling unpredictable and thus keep the defense's play "honest".


Beyond the basic principle of passing to set up the run, there are few rules that govern Walsh's West Coast Offense. Originally the offense used two split backs, giving it an uneven alignment in which five players aligned to one side of the ball and four players aligned on the other side (with the quarterback and center directly behind the ball). Although Walsh-influenced teams now commonly use formations with more or fewer than two backs, the offense's unevenness is still reflected in its pass protection philosophy and continues to distinguish it from single back passing offenses. Throughout the years, coaches have added to, adjusted, modified, simplified, and enhanced Bill Walsh's original adaptation of the Paul Brown offense. Formations and plays vary greatly, as does play calling.


Another key part of the Walsh implementation was "pass first, run later." It was Walsh's intention to gain an early lead by passing the ball, then run the ball on a tired defense late in the game, wearing them down further and running down the clock. The San Francisco 49ers under Walsh often executed this very effectively. City San Francisco, California Other nicknames Niners, The Red And Gold, Bay Bombers Team colors Cardinal red, metallic gold and black Head Coach Mike Nolan Owner Denise DeBartolo York and John York General manager Lal Heneghan Mascot Sourdough Sam League/Conference affiliations All-America Football Conference (1946-1949) Western Division...


Another key element in Walsh's attack was the three step dropback instead of traditional seven step drops or shotgun formations. The three step drop helped the quarterback get the ball out faster resulting in far fewer sacks. "WCO" plays unfold quicker than in traditional offenses and are usually based on timing routes by the receivers. In this offense the receivers also have reads and change their routes based on the coverages presented to them. The quarterback makes three reads and if no opportunity is available after three reads, the QB will then check off to a back or tight end. Five step and even 7 step dropbacks are now implemented in modern day WCO's because defensive speed has increased since the 80's. Some modern WCO's have even used shotgun formations (i.e. Green Bay, Atlanta '04-'06)


Typical Plays

The majority of West Coast Offense routes occur within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage. 3-step and 5-step drops by the quarterback to take the place of the run and force the opposing defense to commit their focus solely on those intermediate routes. Contrary to popular belief, the offense also uses the 7-step drop for shallow crosses, deep ins and comebacks. For instance, the Michigan Wolverines utilize the 5- and 7-step drops about 85% of the time with West Coast pass schemes implemented by Quarterbacks Coach Scot Loeffler. Because of the speed of modern defenses, only utilizing the 3- and 5-step pass game would be ineffective since the defense could squat and break hard on short-to-intermediate throws with no fear of a downfield pass. The University of Michigan features 24 varsity sports teams called the Wolverines, which compete in the NCAAs Division I and in the Big Ten Conference in all sports except mens ice hockey which competes in the NCAA D1 Central Collegiate Hockey Association, and womens water polo, which...


The original West Coast Offense of Sid Gillman uses some of the same principles (pass to establish the run, quarterback throws to timed spots), but offensive formations are generally less complicated with more wideouts and motion. The timed spots are often farther downfield than in the Walsh-style offense, and the system requires a greater reliance on traditional pocket passing.


Scripted Plays

A Walsh innovation was scripting the first 15 offensive plays of the game (Walsh went as far as to scripting the first 25 plays but most teams stop at 15). Since the offensive team knew that the first 15 plays would be run as scripted no matter what, they could practice those plays to perfection, minimizing mistakes and penalties. Success of the offense could establish momentum and dictate the flow of the game. Scripting also added an element of surprise, since a defense could be caught off guard by a scripted play that had no relationship to the current situation (e.g., a run play on third-and-long). It also gave the coaching staff an opportunity to run test plays against the defense to gauge their reactions in game situations. Later in the game, an observed tendency in a certain situation by the opposing defense could be exploited. This article is about momentum in physics. ...


Requirements and disadvantages

The West Coast offense requires a quarterback who throws extremely accurately, and often blindly, very close to opposing players hands. In addition, it requires the quarterback to be able quickly to pick one of 5 receivers to throw to — much more quickly than previously used systems. Often, the quarterback cannot think about the play, but instead reacts instinctively — and thus is often under the control of the offensive coordinator, calling the plays for him.


This is in contrast to the previous quarterback requirements of other systems, which were an adept game manager and a strong arm. Thus, for example, many people reasoned that Johnny Unitas, a strong-armed field general would not have fared well in being subservient to the offensive coordinator, and that his long but sometimes wobbly passes would not have worked in the new system. The West Coast offense caused a split still evident today amongst quarterbacks: those who were more adept at the west coast style (Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre, Matt Hasselbeck) and those more in tune with the old style (Dan Marino, Tom Brady, Jim Kelly, Peyton Manning). John Constantine Johnny Unitas (May 7, 1933 – September 11, 2002), nicknamed The Golden Arm, was a professional American football player in the 1950s through the 1970s. ... Joseph Clifford Joe Montana, Jr. ... Jon Steven Young (born October 11, 1961 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA), is a former quarterback for the National Football Leagues San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Los Angeles Express of the short-lived United States Football League. ... Brett Hillbilly Favre (pronounced Farv, born on October 10, 1969 in Gulfport, Mississippi [1]) is an American football player, currently starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). ... Matthew Michael Hasselbeck[1] (born September 25, 1975, in Boulder, Colorado)[1] is a professional football player, the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. ... For the Gambino crime family mobster, see Daniel Marino. ... Thomas Edward Brady, Jr. ... For other persons named Jim Kelly, see Jim Kelly (disambiguation). ... Peyton Williams Manning (born March 24, 1976 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is an American football quarterback who plays for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League. ...


Also, the West Coast offense requires sure-handed receivers comfortable catching in heavy traffic, and the system downplays speedy, larger receivers who are covered easily in short yardage situation. One result has been the longevity of receivers in the West Coast system (such as the notable Jerry Rice) because a decline in speed is not as harmful, when, in "stretch the field" systems, a receiver who loses a step is a major liability. "WCO" systems also rely on agile running backs that catch the ball as often as they run. Roger Craig was a leading receiver for the 49ers for many years and was often a 1000 yard rusher and 1000 yard receiver. Finally, receivers must follow precise, complicated routes as opposed to innovation; so subservient, intelligent players are valued more than independent, pure athletes. Jerry Lee Rice (born October 13, 1962 in Crawford, Mississippi) is a former football wide receiver in the NFL. Rice is widely regarded as among the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, consistently showing exceptional performance and strong work ethic on and off of the field. ... Roger Craig (born July 10, 1960 in Davenport, Iowa) is a former NFL running back who won three Super Bowls (1985, 1989, 1990) while playing with the San Francisco 49ers. ...


Finally, the West Coast offense, with its emphasis on quick reactive skills, can be seen to further develop the running quarterback motif, where extremely fast running quarterbacks (Michael Vick, Jake Plummer, Steve Young, Donovan McNabb, Vince Young) are valued, if they are good passers, because in blitz or short-yardage situations, when the West Coast offense's value is negated, the running quarterback can make up this difference by posing a threat to make the first down himself, paralyzing an aggressive defense. Michael Dwayne Vick (born June 26, 1980 in Newport News, Virginia) is an American football quarterback for the National Football Leagues Atlanta Falcons franchise. ... Jason Plummer redirects here. ... For other persons of the same name, see Steve Young. ... Donovan Jamal McNabb (born November 25, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American football quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. ... Vincent Paul Young, Jr. ... In American football, a blitz is a defensive maneuver in which one or more linebackers or defensive backs, who normally remain behind the line of scrimmage during a play, are instead sent across the line to the opponents side in order to try to tackle the quarterback. ...


External links

  • 1999 SportsIllustrated.com article
  • 2004 SportsIllustrated.com article
  • ESPN.com explanation of West Coast offense

References

  1. ^ 1999 SportsIllustrated.com article. Retrieved 20 May 2005.
  2. ^ "He put in the West Coast offense before it was known as the West Coast offense. And he did it at a time when college football teams were winning national championships with the run and not the pass." Las Vegas Review-Journal, 2000. Retrieved 25 December 2006.
is the 140th day of the year (141st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 359th day of the year (360th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
ESPN.com: NFL - All roads lead to Walsh ... sort of (2439 words)
Were the history of the West Coast offense to be penned in Biblical style, it would certainly be heavy into "begats," an archaic verb but one appropriate to describe the lineage of a popular design used by a preponderance of NFL coaches and coordinators.
Three decades later, the West Coast offense has gone a bit ecumenical, with the glitzy name now a catch-all for any passing attack that is based on timing, multiple looks, variable formations and excruciatingly precise route adjustments by the receivers.
Yeah, I agree that the term West Coast, as it applies to the beginning of the offense, is overused.
West Coast offense: Information from Answers.com (681 words)
Walsh's "West Coast Offense", on the contrary, stipulates that a defense must first be stretched with a short, horizontal passing attack that features sharp, precisely-run pass patterns by the receivers and quick, 3-step and 5-step drops by the quarterback.
The original Gillman-inspired West Coast Offense uses some of the same principles (pass to establish the run, quarterback throws to timed spots), but offensive formations are generally less complicated with more wideouts, the timed spots are usually farther downfield than in the Walsh-style offense, and the system requires a greater reliance on traditional pocket passing.
At the college level, Walsh's "West Coast Offense" was advanced largely by Walsh while at Stanford, by coaches LaVell Edwards and Norm Chow while at Brigham Young University, Sylvester Croom currently at Mississippi State University and Tyrone Willingham currently at the University of Washington.
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