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Thread: The Teach Football to Darvon thread

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    The Teach Football to Darvon thread

    OK. I got caught off-guard in not knowing WCO was West Coast Offense in another thread.
    But it raised an issue which I am not clear on and we have tons of knowledgeable people here so I am here to learn.


    Question 1:

    West Coast Offense is a type of Offense. What other types are currently in use in the NFL? i.e. If the Patriots arent WCO, then what do you call them?


    Question 2:

    Define each from #1 and differentiate them from each other.

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    This seems to be a good set of operational descriptors of the WCO

    1. The WCO is pass-first system. You do not run to set up the pass. You pass to set up the run.

    2. In a true WCO system, you pass early and often in the game to take the lead. You run later in the game to kill the clock and protect that lead.

    3. Although WCO teams pass early in the game, which is considered aggressive by old-school standards, the WCO is a conservative ball-control passing attack.

    4. The WCO is all about short passing routes. The majority of passing plays involve a catch not more than 15 yards away from the line of scrimmage. In the numbered route tree system, the one, two, and three routes are the dominant routes. Most plays terminate within 15 yards of scrimmage.

    5. The three most characteristic plays in the WCO are the quick slant, the shallow cross, and the check-down to a running back. Statistically, these plays gain most of your passing yardage in the WCO.

    6. The WCO teams constantly send two receivers on eight and nine routes to stretch the defense. It’s usually trickeration. True WCO teams rarely throw the football deep. The objective here is to simply run off the coverage.

    7. Probably the most difficult and trouble-prone aspect of the WCO for both the quarterback and the receivers is Walsh’s system of adaptive option routes. Both the quarterback and the receivers are expected to read and identify coverage correctly, and adjust route depth and pattern depending upon what the defense confronts you with. They have to read defenses the same way. They have to choose the same adaptive routes. Otherwise ‘miscommunications’ occur, and quarterback either throws an interception, an incompletion, takes a sack, or throws the ball away.

    8. Walsh frequently ran combinations of three routes to one side of the field. He called this combo a triangle. The objective was to overload a zone with too many receivers and create motion that would make it impossible to cover at least one. When the routes were run precisely one receiver would always pop wide open.

    9. The West Coast substitutes a series of short throws to running backs for the normal system of hand-offs and pitch-sweeps. You throw the football to running backs, you don’t hand it to them, and you use the short pass just like the run. Ideally, you line a running back up in the flat, throw it to him, and create an isolation one-on-one tackle between a back and corner. In this way, you force corners to run back in coverage and then run forward to make a tackle against a more physical running back,

    10. The mottos of the WCO are nickel and dime, dink and dunk, a four yard pass is as good as a run, use the short pass to setup the long pass, etc. It is a slow, methodical passing attack in which you pick apart the defense with a series of short passes.

    11. When it works well there is usually one running back who accounts for most of the team’s yardage. Rodger Craig, Tom Rathman, Rickie Waters, Dorsey Levans, Edgar Bennatt, Brian Westbrook, Shawn Alexander, and Terrel Davis are a few of the names associated as WCO backs.

    12. When the WCO is working correctly, the WCO produces sustained drives, running nine to 12 plays per score.

    13. Accordingly, time of possession stats are usually good for true WCO teams, they usually finish plus-two to plus-three in terms of TOP.

    14. When a strong running attack is present, which is not typical or common, it is usually predicated on a zone-blocking scheme in which offensive linemen slant-block the defenders in their zone right or left. The back takes a pitch and begins to run in the direction of the flow. He then sharply cuts back against the grain and goes to the backside. This is the infamous one-cut-and-go system Mike Shanahan invented and made famous.

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    Google is my friend. I obviously know a bit after watching 20,000 hours of football, but actually have to think this through in a structured manner helps me fill in my mushy points.


    I think another style of equal level to the WCO is "Pro-style".

    - the main characteristic of a pro-style offense is the quarterback takes snaps under center (he stands directly behind the center and the ball is exchanged hand to hand.)
    - Also their default personal on the field is (and this is not a set-in-stone rule, you're always going to see variations, but this is default) five offensive linemen, one quarterback, one tight-end, one running back, one full-back, and two wide receivers.
    - strong emphasis to have offensive plays run balanced evenly between running and passing (50/50.)
    - More vertical routes. Focus on "air yards" not YAC.
    - Handoff to backs rather than passes in the flat.
    - More seven step drop passes.

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    Today I read someone describe the NE offense as a "mash-up." Might that be indicative of the trouble one could run into when trying to neatly categorize offenses?

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    The next obvious style is "Spread", but is "spread" the same taxonomic rank as WCO and Pro-Style?

    I don't know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
    Today I read someone describe the NE offense as a "mash-up." Might that be indicative of the trouble one could run into when trying to neatly categorize offenses?
    I understand that NFL teams will be blends, or back-n-forth mixtures. But I need to understand the orthogonal "Categories" Although we can paint any color, I need to get a brain grip on the Red-Green-Blue of offenses that make up the blends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wxwax View Post
    Today I read someone describe the NE offense as a "mash-up." Might that be indicative of the trouble one could run into when trying to neatly categorize offenses?
    Would agree that teh "idea" behind NE's offense is to be as unpredictable as possible, however i would state that teh "base" offense for NE might be a "Inverted Modified Single-Back Spread" offense as popularized by Dennis Erickson. "Inverted" in this case means that the deep routes are typically run by the TE's instead of the Wr's, and "Modified" because of the main set being double TE's instead of 3 WR's. The offenses share a lot of similarities
    "Make sure you come to the game day chat to see my feeble attempts at typing there, it's abhorrent. "
    or as gobig calls it "Ragaring"

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    Another Article HERE

    Gives categories of Erhardt-Perkins/Coryell/WCO/Run-n-Shoot.


    Again spread seems to be an orthogonal characteristic, mostly discussed as modifying Erhardt-Perkins in New England.

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    HERE is an article which splits things differently, somewhat:

    With all this talk all over the message boards about "pro style offenses", I figured this would be a good time to define that term "pro style offense". First, there is no singular pro style. Most coaches, players, and students of the game will say that there are really five "pro style offenses":
    The current pro style offenses in use by all 32 NFL teams are:

    (Generic) Pro Set - The default offense for the NFL between 1960 and even today comprised of 2 WRs, 1 TE. Most other offenses are extensions of this Pro Set.

    Zampese-Coryell "Air Coryell" - An extension of the Pro Set used by Don Coryell from 1978 to 1986 that makes the tight end more of a receiver than a blocker, as is the case with the Pro Set. This offense is run out of the Pro Set, but differentiates itself from the base offense by using pre-snap reads after putting a receiver in motion. Receivers get open by creating seams forced by the pre-snap reads, motion, and the patterns adjusted after the read (very similar to the Spurrier Fun N' Gun). This offense is still used today by the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and by other teams with elements of the Spread.

    Erhardt-Perkins "New England Offense" - An extension of the Pro Set used by Ron Erhardt and Ray Perkins in the late 1970s. This offense focuses on time of possession with grinding running backs. As offenses evolved in the 1980s, the play-action became a popular way to set up a deep vertical game. In modern times, the New England Offense is often mixed with elements of the Spread by New England (this offense is de-evolving from pure Erhardt-Perkins over time) Kansas City (this offense is looking more Pro Set or spread, depending on the QB), and the New York Giants.

    Bill Walsh "West Coast" - An extension of the Pro Set used by Bill Walsh that emphasizes short passes to open up the running game. Like the Air Coryell, the West Coast uses elements of the playbook to open up passing lanes that are set up by the running game, but differs through the use of short passes to the edges. San Francisco and a host of other teams still use this offense.

    Generic smash mouth - A generic name for the Pro Set that focuses on large fullbacks as lead blockers, strong tight ends that create running lanes, and powerful running backs that grind out 3 to 4 yards at a time.


    Any of these offenses are considered "pro style". Since the early part of the decade, more and more elements of the spread have been appearing throughout the NFL. In college, these five offenses are still prevalent. When most people complain about "kiddie college offenses", they are talking about pure Spread using the zone read, and spread option using the option, or any combination thereof. The Run and Shoot also faced similar criticism in the 1980s and 1990s despite its success in the NFL and in college, as well as CFL. The New York Giants actually employ some Run and Shoot elements today. The Steve Spurrier Fun N' Gun shared elements of the Run and Shoot and the Air Coryell, even beyond the cosmetic commonalities.

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    This is a notice to my family that is FP. I am going to do something without permission. To take some liberties. As I learn over the next few days, I am going to journal my information, conclusions, and questions in this thread. It's probably going to be a bit of diarrhea of the keyboard. Feel free to read, comment, answer questions or ignore. As longer term questions arise I will probably take them out of this thread and ask the FP fam.

    I have watched a lot of football and inferred definitions, terms, and connections. I am now going back and trying to nail things down and see where the holes are in my knowledge and sweep out the fuzzy thoughts to let in the clear sunshine of reason.

    Great prose, eh???

    What I mean is I am going back to Kindergarten and this time I am taking notes. And I am self-indulgently taking this thread with me.

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