Essay, Research Paper: West Coast Offense


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We know that football teams, similar to organizations everywhere, improve by
going through an evolutionary progression as they learn, apply, adapt, and learn
again. Bill Walsh accomplished all these by establishing and mastering the steps
involved in that crucial process. No individual in the history of the game is
more qualified to put forth such individual guidance. During his illustrious
career, Bill Walsh was more than a football coach. In a very real sense he has
been an exceptional visionary. Although he is widely renowned as the architect
of the "West Coast " offense, his innovative approach to the game has
extended far beyond his imaginative ideas on offense. During the time he spent
working with the San Francisco 49ers, he transformed San Francisco’s game into
an art form. To Walsh, football was more than a physical contest, and success is
more than a victory on the playing field. Success is the progression of worthy
ideas and goals. Such a progression involves at least two key cerebral factors,
attention to detail and an absolute commitment to perfection. To Walsh’s way
of reasoning, no detail or situation is too unimportant to be overlooked. Every
possible circumstance that might affect the performance of the team and the
productivity of the organization should be addressed. In turn, a contingency
plan to handle each situation should be developed. In his more than four decades
of involvement with the game as a player, a coach, and a top-level
administrator, no individual has had a more worthy or meaningful impact on the
players he coached or the coaches with whom he worked. A list of coaches that
served with Walsh, and who subsequently went on to achieve remarkable success as
head coaches on both the collegiate and professional levels is quite
extraordinary. As a result, his influence continues to be felt throughout all
levels of the game today. As you read through my manuscript about the "West
Coast" offense, you will read about a detailed offense that thrives on
perfection. Throughout my manuscript Bill Walsh and sometimes LaVell Edwards
will continue to be referred to, having being the architects of such an
ingenious offense. Before we can know more about the offense, we should know
more about the history of the "father" of the "West Coast"
offense. "Bill Walsh was born in to an environment where most children
played sports in the streets and on neighborhood lawns" . He grew up in a
neighborhood where there were no basketball courts, so playing football was the
only option. Walsh grew up in area of southwest Los Angeles, better known as
south central L.A. "South central L.A. was the home of University of
Southern California. Having lived in the atmosphere of USC, only served to
heighten Walsh’s interest in football" . In later years, Walsh had the
opportunity to hang around USC as a ball boy for the Trojan football team. In
the process, Walsh made friends with several USC player that went on to be
professional athletes and coaches. If you think Walsh came from a football
background you are wrong. Though his father played a very influential role in
his life, ingraining strong work ethics, (evident in most of Walsh’s football
teams). During the week his father was employed at a blue collar job in an auto
plant. Walsh and family traveled from place to place for employment reasons.
Because of the numerous travels, Walsh had the opportunity to attend three
different high schools. He played on the football team at each high school,
sometimes as quarterback, but usually as a running back because it was probably
easier to learn the system. Walsh attended San Mateo Community College for two
seasons, where he was allowed to play quarterback on a regular basis.
"After attending San Mateo and gaining a Associate’s Degree, he attended
San Jose State University, where he had the opportunity to play as a split end
on the Spartan football team, coached by the legendary Bob Bronzan" .
Bronzan was a typical "hard nosed" coach, he demanded high standards
of performance at all times from everyone associated with the team. He was a
coach that stressed the fact that everyone needed to be willing to make
sacrifices if the team was to succeed. Last but not least Bronzan was very
creative offensively. After school Walsh was drafted into the Army. He spent his
entire two-year of duty at Ft. Ord in California, where he got to play on the
post football team and box. After the Army, Walsh returned to San Jose State to
pursue a graduate degree and Bronzan hired him on his staff as a graduate
assistant coach. Bronzan got the credit as being Bill Walsh’s mentor. I can
imagine Bronzan spent countless hours with Walsh working to develop the skills
and abilities to be a good football coach. After finishing graduate school,
Walsh got a position as a head coach at a high school in Fremont, California.
Despite being only 24 years old Walsh felt confident that he had learned enough
to be a head coach. After spending three years as a head coach at the high
school level, with Bronzan’s support Marv Levy hired him to be a member of his
staff at University of California - Berkley. Moving right up the coaching ladder
Walsh had gained a head coaching position at a high school when he was 24 and
three years later he was a full time assistant at a Division I college. Two
years under his belt at the Division I level on Levy’s staff he was appointed
Walsh as defensive coordinator. Walsh did not feel completely prepared for this
position, but the experience proved to be very important. After three seasons
with Marv Levy and the Cal Bears, Walsh began his association with Stanford.
John Ralston hired Walsh to be a member of the Cardinal’s staff. In his first
year working for Ralston, he was appointed the chief recruiter, administrative
assistant, and junior varsity coach. Then he was appointed as his defensive
backs coach. When you actually sit down and try to summarize how you pursued the
major goals in your life, it is relatively difficult to determine from which
point you should began. Most people interested in football want to know where
did Walsh develop his professional philosophies, and in particular the
"West Coast" offense. All factors considered, the birth of the
"West Coast" offense started with the legendary Paul Brown, from whom
Walsh worked for in Cincinnati, and the offensive genius Sid Gillman. Gillman
made his mark in 10 seasons with the San Diego Chargers, leading them to five
championship appearances. Walsh learned from Gillman when Gillman hired him with
the Oakland Raiders. Walsh gives credit to Gillman as being the biggest
influence in his early career. Gillman was just one of the numerous pro coaches
whom Walsh studied from. "Walsh also credits individuals such as Blanton
Collier, Al Davis, Don Coryell and Clark Shaughnessy, the legendary Stanford
coach and Chicago Bear assistant to George Halas who brought the "T"
formation into college and professional football" . Having the chance to
work at the college level at two great schools like Cal and Stanford had to be
meaningful for his development as a coach. What many people don’t realize is
that Walsh spent his first few years in college football on the defensive side
of the ball. Working as Marv Levy’s defensive coordinator at Cal, then later
with John Ralston at Stanford as his defensive backs coach, provided him with
experience important to coaching offensive football. The time Walsh spent with
Cincinnati Bengals seemingly gave Walsh a chance to develop his own coaching
philosophy and to put them into practical application. At the time, Cincinnati
was an expansion team that had Virgil Carter as its quarterback. Virgil Carter
was a quarterback who had a great collegiate career at Brigham Young. Virgil
Carter was only six feet tall and without a throwing arm, but he was a good
runner. Back in those days from film I have seen, the Bengal’s weren’t
strong enough on the offensive line to be able to run the ball well, Walsh
decided that the best chance to win football games was to somehow control the
ball. "As a result, Walsh devised a ball-control passing game in the hope
that if the Bengals could make 25 first downs in a given game and also had good
special teams play, football games wouldn’t be hard to win" . Over the
eight year period Walsh was in Cincinnati, he and his staff were able to develop
a system known today as the "West Coast" offense. Walsh couldn’t
have never known the system as being an all-encompassing system. If he did know
he probably would have patented the name and made a lot of money from it.
"At age 47, Bill Walsh got his first chance to be a head coach since he
coached at the high school level in the late 1950s" . He was named head
football coach at Stanford University in 1977. Most people would consider
coaching at Stanford an opportunity of a lifetime. This position allowed him to
take full control of an organization and field test the precepts and
philosophies he had worked to develop over the years. What matters most is that
he also got a chance to further develop an offensive system, but at a decidedly
different level. Coaching football at the college level probably needs more
involvement because of the varying stages of development of football players.
Teaching is more comprehensive in college because a dramatic range exists in the
abilities of the players. The success Walsh had at Stanford, culminating in a
national ranking a win in the Bluebonnet Bowl, gave him the chance to become the
head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 1979. The 49ers had been virtually
dismembered in the late 1970s by mismanagement and terrible personnel decisions.
The apathy in the Bay area for the 49ers was at an all-time high, as evidence by
the fact they couldn’t sell many tickets. The 49ers had been through a
tumultuous period with differences of head coaches and general managers who
constantly were at odds with one another. As a result, the organization had no
single leadership and no meaningful direction. To make things worse the 49ers
had few draft choices with which to rebuild due to some poor trades. When Walsh
was hired they made him head coach, and he was also in charge of all football
operations, similar to what the Seattle Seahawks have done when they hired Mike
Holmgreen. The standards that Walsh set coaching the "West Coast"
offense were miraculous. His primary goal was to get players that fit the
system. Therefore, I will give an idea on what type of players by position that
Walsh wanted. The wide receiver position is probably the second most important
position in this offense only because of the passing. The ideal size of a wide
receiver should be at least 6 foot 3 inches, and weigh about 210 pounds. To play
effectively, a wide receiver must posses several traits and characteristics. For
example, a wide receiver should have a high level of agility. The agility to
change his body position is essential if a wide receiver is to be able to get
his hips turned and his hands in position to catch a ball that is not perfectly
thrown. Body control is particularly critical for a wide receiver who wants to
get to the highest tier of play. Wide receivers in this offense must also be
relatively strong. Strength can help wide receivers in several ways. For
example, strength plays a role in a wide receiver being able to maintain his
balance after a collision with his defenders. "Strength also affects a
receiver’s ability to go up for the ball and his ability to maintain his
performance level as the game progresses" . All factors considered the
stronger a player is, the less likely he is to be injured. Soft hands are also
vital. It’s a given that to have a legitimate chance to play, a receiver must
have outstanding hands. The key is to be able to catch the ball in a crowded
situation, while on the move. Almost all potential receivers can run under the
ball and catch it in the open. In reality, however, most catches must be made
with the ball and the defender closing at the same instant. In such a situation,
the receiver must get his body in position to catch the ball, actually the ball
and be hit all at the same moment. Wide receivers must also have the ability to
focus. They must be able to "find" the ball, focus on it, and isolate
it from everything else that is happening around them. When a coach is
evaluating videotapes on a particular wide receiver, he looks for and evaluates
those plays that demonstrate situations where the player must be focused. Speed
also plays a role. While pure (track) speed may be desirable, the ability to
increase his foot speed as needed (i.e., explosiveness) and his full stride
speed are more important factors for a wide receiver. Acceleration has a number
of obvious applications for a wide receiver. "Full-stride speed enables a
receiver who has the ball in the open field to be able to keep the separation
with the closing defenders until he crosses the goal line" . He doesn't
have to out-run the defenders or gain ground on them just get to the goal line
before the defenders do. This situation requires full-stride speed, rather than
track speed. The NFL has also had a few wide receivers with Olympic-level
sprinting speed who lacked full-stride speed. As a result, they weren't able to
score whenever they got tangled up with a defender and weren't able to get back
into full stride quickly enough. "Coachability" is another factor that
is important that wide receivers have (as it is for all players). Coaching can
help enhance a receiver's ability to evade a defender at the line of scrimmage,
to read the form of coverage, and to change a pattern accordingly. Wide
receivers must also be durable. Durability is a factor because receivers get hit
a lot. Often, they're hit when they're in a vulnerable position (i.e., being hit
by a much larger opponent after running a hooking pattern against a linebacker).
Wide receivers are finely tuned athletes who need to be in top condition to
perform well. If they are hurt or injured, it can be very difficult for them to
function at a high level. Unlike a few other positions (e.g., offensive
lineman), wide receivers must be almost totally injury free to perform well.
Walsh has had the luxury to coach a number of great wide receivers, including
Chip Myers, Charlie Joiner, James Lofton, Ken Margerum, Isaac Curtis, Dwight
Clark, John Taylor and the incomparable Jerry Rice. At one time or another, all
of them were either Pro Bowl players or All-Americans in college. Each, however,
was uniquely qualified and different from the others. "For example, Chip
Myers was 6'5", while Charlie Joiner was only 5'10"; Isaac Curtis was
an NCAA sprint champion; Dwight Clark ran a 4.6 40-yard dash, etc" . The
one thing that they had in common, however, was that they were all brilliant
performers. Another important position in the "West Coast" offense is
the tight end position. The ideal size for a tight end in this offense is about
six foot, four and one half inches, weighing about 245 pounds. The requirements
for playing tight end depend primarily on the system a team deploys.
Accordingly, a "West Coast" offense team must find the athlete who
best fits the team's approach to the offense. Some teams want a tight end who
has girth, ballast and strength. For these teams, the tight end is one of the
primary keys to their offensive system because he has the size and physical
tools to secure the point of attack. If the tight end is able to block a
defensive lineman who is positioned on the edge of the offense, then a team
automatically has an increased likelihood of having a running game with just
that single feature. In many of the defensive alignments of the 1990s, defensive
linemen are lining up adjacent to or across from the tight end, whereas years
ago they probably were not. If the tight end can block those defensive linemen,
then this entire offense has a focal point from which to work. This type of
tight end can be a dominating factor. He is bigger and stronger, though less
quick and agile, than the other type of tight end. Teams tend to fashion their
passing game with him in the vicinity of the linebackers. Accordingly, he must
have both the ability to absorb a ball as he is being hit and soft hands. On
virtually every pass thrown to him, he is going to be hit almost simultaneously
with the catch. This type of tight end also does not need to possess great
speed; a 5.0 time on the 40-yard dash will get the job done. The major
shortcoming attendant to his lack of extraordinary speed is the fact that he is
not going to be able to clear defenders on certain pass patterns to help other
receivers. All in all, that limitation is not that significant compared to all
the blocking capabilities he provides. The other extreme would be a "Brent
Jones" type tight end, who can be a major factor all over the field. This
type of tight end is a dream come true for the "West Coast" offense.
He should have the ability and the foot speed to go anywhere on the field
quickly across the field, to the outside, down the field, etc. In the process,
he will be able to either bring defenders with him or find openings in the
defenses. This kind of tight end needs the body control, the great hands and a
lot of the skills of wide receiver, although more girth (size) than a wide
receiver because many of the passes he catches will be in the vicinity of
linebackers and even defensive linemen. The quicker and faster type of tight end
will utilize an all-technique (rather than bulk) approach when blocking. It is
essential that he learns and develops those blocking techniques that he can use
with a reasonable level of effectiveness against defensive linemen and
linebackers. Unlike the stranger, bigger type of tight end, he will not be able
to use amass-against mass approach to blocking. Also, this type of tight end is
considered the great all-around type. This type of tight end is so gifted
(athletically) that he can do all of the things both of the other types of tight
ends would normally be expected to do. A multi-talented, all around tight end
who is both a great blocker and a great receiver gives his team multiple
offensive options. The next tool in the "West Coast" offense has to be
the offensive lineman. Like most offenses offensive linemen make the offenses
great. The offensive tackle should be the tallest on the offensive line,
especially in the "West Coast" offense because so many of the passing
plays are across the middle. The ideal size for an offensive tackle has to be at
least six foot, six inches, and 310 pounds. The National Football League (NFL)
has a number of highly skilled offensive tackles who weigh 330 pounds or so. In
reality, these athletes play well in spite of weighing 330 pounds, not because
of it. The only apparent benefit of weighing that much is to attract the
attention of the television crew. While most of them might enhance their playing
skills and performance if they lost a substantial amount of weight, the fact is
they play pretty well at their current weight. The one absolute essential trait
for offensive linemen in the "West Coast" offense is natural body
girth. In addition to girth, offensive tackles in this offense must be very
strong and a have a high level of agility. Agility by the linemen in this
offense is needed because of the quick three and five step passing game. An
offensive tackle should also have strong, long arms to facilitate those blocking
tasks involving tasks involving leverage. From a blocking perceptive, however,
the timing of the block itself is the critical factor. In addition, the
offensive tackle must have intuitive sense of feeling or knowing where to
intersect defenders. In this offense the offensive tackle must be able to adapt
to a situation where a linebacker blitzes from the outside and the defender he
was expecting to block drops back into pass coverage. This happens often within
the offense, again because of the short controlled passing game. As a result,
the offensive tackle must be sharp enough to quickly identify the scenario and
be able to move and adjust to the circumstances as needed. He must also be
extremely well versed and prepared in the skills and the techniques required to
handle a variety of situations. The nature of the position of the offensive
tackle also requires that athletes who play this position possess a level of
inner confidence and natural self control that enables them to deal with
frustration and, on some occasions in a football sense, disaster. Regardless of
the circumstances, the offensive tackle in this offense must be able to regain
his focus and function at a high level of performance within 30-40 seconds or
less. In reality, some athletes appear to have a better disposition to deal with
potentially disruptive elements than others. The next position of similar
importance on the offensive line in the "West Coast" offense is the
offensive guard. The ideal size for the offensive guard is about six foot three
inches, and the should weigh about 300 pounds. Similar to some of the other
positions on the offensive line the requirements for playing guard in the
"West Coast" offense depend to a great extent on the type of passing
and running the team will do. In this regard, two obvious options exist, either
the offensive guard has to be selected based on his capacity to contribute to a
team's existing system of offense. Another idea is a team has to style its
offense according to who its guards are. Typically, the latter option prevails.
A team adapts its offensive style to the abilities of its guards. An example of
how a team adapts its offensive system to its guards occurs when a particular
offensive guard can or cannot do something to his right or left. If the left
guard can pull and trap, then the team is more likely to run plays to the right
with the left guard pulling (and vice versa). The guard positions are
"personalized" according to what they can do. Typically, one or the
other offensive guard on a team is stronger or weaker in a particular technique
or the ability to get the job done. As a rule, great offensive guards possess
several traits, including quickness, agility, explosiveness, the ability to pull
and trap, and the ability to go inside-out on a linebacker. Randall McDaniel of
the Minnesota Vikings is an excellent example of this type of offensive guard.
Although he only weighs approximately 280 pounds, he is an outstanding player in
every sense. He fits their form of the "West Coast" offense perfectly.
In the "West Coast" offense more than anything, offensive guards must
be able to pass block. Generally speaking, girth, stability and body balance are
essential factors in this skill. Because the offensive guard can usually get
help as a pass protector, he just has to have enough power to avoid being
knocked back. Just the sheer number of people inside will help the guard pass
block. As a result, the guard can have some limitations as a pass blocker as
long as he has enough girth to keep the defensive tackle from picking him up and
moving him. The offensive guard position requires less technique for pass
protecting than is essential for an offensive tackle. On the other hand, the
offensive guard position requires more blocking and movement skills. For
example, in the "West Coast" offense the guard is used on numerous
blocking combinations where he must get from point "A" to point
"B," pulling through a hole, trapping, pulling on sweeps, coming
inside-out on a blitzing linebacker, etc. Collectively, this capability requires
that the offensive guard has agility, mobility, and a refined level of
techniques. The last but, most important position on the offensive line in the
"West Coast" offense is the center. The ideal size for the center
should be about six foot two inches and weigh about 290 pounds. The offensive
center has a critical role in the "West Coast" offense. Not only must
he start every play with a flawlessly executed snap, he is typically the key man
in making line calls. These calls are vital, and there is no way a team running
the "West Coast" offense can do without them. For example, with the
constant defensive changes that occur during a game, the offensive line must
react to those changes if an adjustment in the blocking scheme is required.
Because he is literally at the "center" of the action (in the middle
of things), the center is the obvious member of the offensive line to identify
and communicate to the other offensive linemen what blocking adjustment must be
made. As a result, the center must have a thorough command of the offensive line
blocking system, the game plan, and individual defensive players his team is
facing. In a few isolated instances, some teams use an offensive guard to make
line calls because the guard is either more experienced or more adept at making
them. As a general rule, the center doesn't have to be an exceptional blocker.
The center usually doesn't have to block the nose tackle one-on-one, although if
he can, it provides a considerable advantage to his team. The center who can
isolate one-on-one with a nose tackle will take tremendous pressure off of the
offensive line, particularly the guards. Most "West Coast" offense
teams typically find a way to help the center with the nose tackle (slide a
line). If the other team is in alignment that doesn't have a nose tackle (4-3
defense) or has the nose tackle stunt away from the center, the center helps a
teammate with his blocking responsibilities. One additional factor related to
the center that "West Coast" offense teams address is his height.
Although there have been successful centers in the NFL who were relatively tall,
many "West Coast" offense teams feel that, all factors considered, a
shorter center is better. Not only does a shorter center have lower center of
gravity (thereby facilitating body balance), he also tends to be more mobile a
trait that offers significant benefits to an individual who must operate in a
relatively small area. A large body can be a hindrance in a small area (somewhat
analogous to the limitations imposed on a jockey who weighs more than 150
pounds). Most "West Coast" offense prefer a center who is able to
quickly move in between people. In most cases, a shorter center can do that
better than a tall, rangy one. Finally, the most important position in the
"West Coast" offense has to be the quarterback. The ideal size of a
quarterback in this offense or any offense should be about six foot three inches
and weigh about 210 pounds. Roughly the quarterback needs to be taller than the
center. Playing quarterback in the "West Coast" offense requires
several skills and traits some of which can be developed through practice and
sound coaching, and others which are inherited (genetic "gifts"). One
of the most obvious requirements for a quarterback in the "West Coast"
offense is have the ability to pass. It is important to realize that arm
strength and being able to pass are not synonymous. Some players can throw a
football 80 yards, but they aren't good passers. Good passing involves accuracy,
timing, and throwing a ball with enough touch so that it is catchable. Good
passing also requires understanding both the "West Coast" offense and
the receivers in the "West Coast" offense, and having a great sense of
anticipation. While it is certainly admirable to be able to throw a ball on a
line for 35 yards, if the ball is off target or arrives in such a way that it is
difficult to catch, such an ability is of dubious value. The fundamental goal of
passing a ball is to make sure it's caught by the intended receiver. One of the
more important criteria for assessing the potential of a quarterback to play in
the "West Coast" offense is to what extent does he have the ability to
throw a "complete inventory" of passes from screen passes to times,
short passes to medium-range passes and down-the-field throws. Not having a
"complete inventory" of passes in his arsenal does not eliminate a
quarterback from a "West Coast" offense team's considerations, but it
can be a meaningful factor. Two other positions important to the "West
Coast" offense are the fullback and running back positions. The ideal size
for the fullback position should be about six foot one inch and weigh about 245
pounds. The running back should be large enough to take punishment and retain
stamina. The main goals for the fullback and running back position in the
"West Coast" offense are to be able to block and catch. In this
offense these positions have to able to pick up blitzing linebackers. The most
important value for these positions is to be able to catch. These positions in
the "West Coast" offense will probably have more catches than rushing
attempts. In the past, the knock against passing teams is that they had no
consistency. You might win some games, but eventually a pass first offense will
come back to haunt you. Bad weather, a strong pass rush, lack of ball control,
too many turnovers, and a host of other reasons were offered as obstacles to
sustained success. Through the 1970’s, this thinking was supported by the fact
that the truly great teams ran the football much more often than they passed it.
However the game has since changed. I believe the fans wanted to see more action
within the football games. Pass minded coaches like Sid Gillman, Don Coryell,
Bill Walsh, and LaVell Edwards won championships with passing offenses. What I
believe caught the attention of many observers was that Walsh and Edwards’
offensive philosophies was unlike previous air attacks that threw only in
long-yardage situations or to surprise the oppositions. "Instead Walsh and
Edwards’ approach was to: · spread the defense over a much bigger area of the
field, both horizontally and vertically; · create mismatches in the speed,
size, or number of receivers defenders try to cover; · thrown on any down and
any distance to avoid tendencies that defenses could key on; · maintain
possession through the air just as other teams tried to do on the ground".
These tenets formed the basis for what is now called the "West Coast"
offense. This high-production, low risk offensive attack has proven itself over
the years and is now used successfully by man teams at all levels. The
"West Coast" offense appeals to high school coaches because it does
not require players up front who can blow people off the ball, down after down,
which is needed in a run based offense. The "West Coast" offense is a
finesse attack that features both ball-control and big play potential. Ball
control in way of short, intermediate, and play-action passing results in first
downs, moving the chains down field and maintaining possession of the ball. A
series of short passes soon add up to sizable gains, putting the defense back on
its heels. Moreover, receivers who can run with the ball can turn short passes
into long gains or even touchdowns. There are three main principles to minimize
risk and achieve success with the "West Coast" offense. These include
protecting the quarterback, timing the pass, and using multiple receivers
(including using backs as receivers). Pressure from the pass rush can result in
loss of yardage and can disrupt timing between the quarterback and receivers,
resulting in forced passes. Repeated hits on the quarterback take a toll
physically and invite injury. The offense must have a plan to handle the pass
rush of linemen, shooting linebackers, and defensive back blitzes. When the
defense sends more rushers than available blockers, the "hot" receiver
principle is used in order to get rid of the ball before the rusher can get to
the quarterback. Solid pass protection gives the quarterback time to find the
open receiver and throw him the ball. The quarterback gains confidence and gets
into a rhythm of throwing on time while the defense becomes frustrated because
of its inability to get to the passer. Sound protection is based on effective
blocking technique. Blocking for the pass is more than the offensive player
positioning himself in front of the rusher. The rusher is surging toward the
quarterback. The blocker must stop this surge and force the rusher to start up
as many times as possible or redirect him away from the quarterback. Technique
must he drilled in game like situations and polished through repetition.
Practice time allotted for pass protections should he proportionate to how much
an offense will use the passing game. Pass timing is the next most important
element in successfully throwing the football. The depth of the receiver’s
route must time out with the depth of the quarterback's drop. If the receiver
breaks into his route before the quarterback is ready to throw, the defender
begins closing on the receiver and arrives at the same time as the ball. If the
quarterback is ready to throw, but the receiver has not broken into his route,
the coverage begins to converge to where the quarterback is looking and gets a
jump on the ball. Proper pass timing aids the receiver in getting open and
permits the quarterback to get the pass off. It establishes a rhythm for the
quarterback and receivers. A team that executes its passing attack with near
flawless timing is difficult to defend, because in most instances, it simply
beats the coverage. The quarterback and receivers must have a thorough
understanding of what a given pass route is trying to accomplish and how to run
that route properly. Receivers must run routes at precise depths and adjust
their route according to the coverage encountered. The quarterback must
understand pass defense, recognizing the alignment of defensive secondary
personnel and their drops into coverage. He must know the strengths and
weaknesses of the coverage and which defender can take away a given route.
Finally, using multiple receivers in the "West Coast" offense is a
definite must. The design of the attack must include a secondary or "dump
off" receiver along with a primary receiver. Their routes will complement
each other so that; versus man coverage, a clearing action is provided by one
receiver for the other, and versus zone coverage, the defender must make a
choice of which receiver to cover. This design increases the chance for a
completion, and permits the quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly, since he
does not need to wait for his primary receiver to get open. The receivers routes
should be in the same general area and at varying depths so that a stretching
action is made on the coverage, and one receiver come open before the other. The
quarterback should be able to quickly scan from one receiver to the other, and
complete the pass to the open man. He is taught that when the coverage takes
away the primary receiver, he will immediately go to the secondary receiver.
Even if throwing to the second choice results in a missed first down, an
incompletion or possible interception will be eliminated and some gain will be
achieved. There's always chance the receiver might break away for the first
down. Throwing the ball to the secondary receiver enough times will soon
condition the defense to cover him, opening up possibilities down field. The
"West Coast" passing attack utilizes all five skill positions as pass
receivers in a variety of ways when attacking the defense. By using all skill
positions as receivers, the offense can attack the whole field and reduce
defensive coverage into one-on-one situations. The nice thing about the offense
however is that on any given pass play, a quarterback will have a variety of
options, especially on the side of the field that the play is designed to go,
and because of this, a receiver is usually open. For example, on a pass play to
the strongside, the wide receiver may be called to run deep down the field, the
tight end may be called to run an intermediate out route, and the fullback may
be called to run a swing pass. If the flanker and tight end are covered, the
quarterback should be able to dump the ball off to the back. Remember, football
is a game of field position. Positive yards are gained in the field position war
(remember this is the same strategy a traditional running attack tries to
accomplish). At best, the back breaks a tackle and picks up the first down.
Don't force the issue, don't make mistakes. This is supposed to be a low risk
offense. A complimentary benefit is that completions will raise a quarterback's
confidence level. In conclusion, the "West Coast" offense in my
opinion is the most productive offense that could be used in football. I say
productive because this offense can be used with average players for maximum
benefit. As defenses place more and more emphasis on speed pass rushers,
disguised coverages, and attacking, pressure-based concepts, the need for the
"West Coast" offense will continue to grow.

Bibliography1. Building a Champion. Bill Walsh and Glenn Dickey. Sports Publishing Inc.
Champaign, IL 1992 2. Football’s Quick Passing Game: Fundamentals and
Techniques Vol. 1. Andrew Coverdale and Dan Robinson. Sagamore Publishing, Inc.
1998 3. Football’s Quick Passing Game: More Advanced Routes Vol. 2. Andrew
Coverdale and Dan Robinson. Sagamore Publishing, Inc. 1998 4. Football’s Quick
Passing Game: Implementing the Package Vol. 3. Andrew Coverdale and Dan
Robinson. Sagamore Publishing, Inc. 1998 5. How to Coach Football’s Running
Trap Game. Jerry H. Laycock. Parker Publishing Company, Inc. 1972. 6. Perfecting
the Play Action Passing Game in Football. Mike Koehler. Parker Publishing
Company, Inc. 1984. 7. Quarterbacking. Bart Starr and Mark Cox. Prentice Hall,
Inc. 1967. 8. Rough Magic: Bill Walsh's Return to Stanford Football. L. Cohn.
Harper Collins Publishers, 1994. 9. Developing an Offensive Game Plan. Brian
Billick. Sagamore Publishing, Inc., 1997. 10. Winning with the West Coast
Offense. Mike Lowry. M-Low Enterprises, 1996
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