West Coast Offense

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com

Joe Montana
Was there a better quarterback that ran the "West Coast Offense" than San Francisco's Joe Montana?
Hatboro, PA (Sports Network) -- Go down two sewers, cut behind the Buick and I'll hit you by the building entrance.

That is the west coast offense! Someone crafted and penned the description of the core of the success of the San Francisco Forty-Niners years ago, converted into words what Ken Stabler did for seasons on end in Oakland and watched Dan Fouts air it out for the Chargers week after week. That became the west coast offense.

While teams like the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers were toughing it out on rainy, snowy, cold, dreary, muddy and wind-blown fields, the darlings of California were applying Sea 'n Ski before they took the field. Instead of heavy jackets with hoods, they were given sun reflectors as they waited their turn on the sidelines. Gatorade was replaced with Cosmopolitans. The New York Giants and Washington Redskins were committing mayhem at the line of scrimmage and Joe Montana, followed by Steve Young, were both taking pages from the books of Stabler and following the Snake's lead by pointing and throwing, over and over. The linemen on either side of the field would have been better off purchasing tickets to watch the corners and wide receivers do their "thing."

It's not as if teams do not run the ball under this somewhat transparent offense. They do. They just do not do it that often. This is an offense built upon the forward pass. In order to follow in the footsteps, the few that were taken gingerly in and out of the pocket, of Montana, Young, Stabler, Brett Favre and John Elway, you need receivers. Ask any coach to define the west coast offense and he cannot, certainly not intelligently. Proponents of this system deal in more doubletalk than Al Kelly ever did.

Let's all understand this, you need a great quarterback with a super arm and some very talented receivers. A better than average running back or two to keep the defense honest helps. Not critical. It helps. The receivers have to be able to read defensive coverages and have great hands - which is why I thought they were getting the mega bucks. I was under the delusion that those talents came with the job.

Granted, there are hundreds of plays with lots of options. Since we are not dealing with rocket scientists here or the embodiment of athletes that actually studied in college and graduated with a meaningful degree, being conversant with all of the plays and being able to read the defense in a heartbeat are the only things that make the west coast offense difficult to comprehend. Maybe the players on the west coast are just smarter than those in the center and eastern portion of our fair land. Give me Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Cris Carter and I will give you the west coast offense.

Emmitt Smith
During their dominating days, the Dallas Cowboys ran their own version of the West Coast Offense, giving the ball to All-Pro Emmitt Smith 30-35 times per game.
Scrambling or not is a choice, as is staying in the pocket. Yards per completion become the goal. The west coast offense, at its lowest denominator, is nothing more than passing a lot more than running with more cars to cut behind and around. You have to wonder why the world of Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk, Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, Mercury Morris, LeRoy Kelly, John Riggins, Franco Harris, Earl Campbell and Ottis Anderson was not called the East Coast Offense?

The more amazing part of all this is the way in which coaches who are adapting this style of offense treat it as though they have discovered the secret of life and then attempt to explain to the media why it takes years to learn. Which part am I missing, the cut behind the Buick or heading into the building entrance after catching the ball? We had more plays in a game of touch football on the streets of the Bronx than they seem capable of in the NFL. Why do they take all those pictures on the sidelines and then show them to wide receivers that are not listening? They do this to detect and exploit holes in the defensive alignment of the secondary. Sounds like a plan to me. Which part of "Go up ten yards, cut to the outside, then back in a yard or two and head downfield. I will hit you on the run," is incomprehensible and difficult to fathom?

If there is a distinction between the desire to "establish the running game" (one of the more ridiculous aspects and phrases of professional football) and doing what one might do best, such as passing the ball more, then there is a difference that leads us to the west coast offense.

Sports do not need inane names for things, descriptions that are silly and meaningless. It is the school of Dick Vitale, of journalists and sports talk show hosts that think shortened names and initials (e.g., "AI" in Philadelphia) is the "in" thing to do. Thanks, Chris Berman, for all that you brought to broadcasting. Not! The West Cost Offense fits right in but, when broken down, is it any more than going out to the first sewer, cutting behind the Chevy and coming out in front of the Oldsmobile?

They will continue to call a passing offense the West Coast Offense and claim that it is an involved and intricate approach to the game of football. You gotta be kidding!

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