Originally posted on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 3/6/13
This is the second installment of our series on what concepts Doug Marrone (and Nathaniel Hackett) might implement into the Buffalo Bills offense. This is part 1 of 2 posts on the West Coast Offense. You can read the first installment on the K-Gun here.  We’ve explored a bit how Doug Marrone’s experience with the New Orleans Saints is tied to the “K-Gun” elements often referenced by offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. However, neither the Saints nor the Syracuse Orange had a true Run and Shoot offense. Rather, both offenses had Run and Shoot concepts implemented into another framework: the legendary West Coast Offense. While casual football fans are perhaps more familiar with the West Coast Offense’s principles than K-Guns, there is still a need to clarify what exactly the term will mean in context to what Marrone will be running with the Buffalo Bills. Yes, at a very basic level the West Coast Offense can be described as quick, horizontal timing routes to stretch a defense horizontally, and passing to set up the run. However, due to the revolutionary nature of the offense at the time it’s genius creator, Bill Walsh, was using it to carve defenses, every team in the NFL uses at least some of the concepts; furthermore, it is probably the most popular offensive system in the league. Therefore, it is necessary to understand some of the core philosophies of the West Coast Offense in order to have an idea of how Doug Marrone and the Buffalo Bills will put their own twist on the famed system. Perhaps more than any other offensive system, the West Coast Offense is all encapsulating (quick aside: by West Coast Offense we are describing Bill Walsh’s system. Sports Illustrated’s Dr Z used to argue that the real West Coast Offense was the “Air Coryell” system popularized by San Diego in the 70s. That may have been true, but since most people are talking about Walsh’s system when they say WCO, that’s what we will use). More than anything else, the West Coast Offense is a reflection of Bill Walsh’s innovative, detailed, genius, and preparation obsessed approach to football. If you want some insight into the Walsh’s mind, check out this article on the greatest football book ever written, Finding the Winning Edge by Bill Walsh, or perhaps flip through the 1985 San Francisco 49ers offensive playbook, also written by Bill Walsh. Either way, the most striking aspect is how Walsh attempted to plan for every possible occurrence on the football field, and what his team’s response would be. Evidently there is a ton to digest here, but here are a few of the main points: 1. Scripting This is a particularly widespread idea. Basically, Walsh would script the first 15-25 offensive plays of any particular game. The idea was to test different concepts against the opponent, see how the opponent would react to those concepts, and put together a plan that would fit complimentary concepts together, such as a play pass (play action) after a series of runs. It’s important to note that the script was not mandatory, as particular situations would dictate specific play calls, such as a 3rd and long or a goal line play. But by scripting the majority of the first half, Walsh’s West Coast Offense was meticulously planned and would show him quite a bit about his opponent. 2. Descriptive Play Calling Since most NFL offenses implement concepts from most of the major offensive systems, often times the most tangible distinction is the verbiage. West Coast Terminology is unique in that it describes just about everything that needs to happen in a play. An example of a West Coast Play from the Andrew Luck Jon Gruden Special last year is “Green Right Strong Slot Spider 2 Y Banana.”  Quite a mouthful, but the advantage is it leaves nothing uncertain. 3.  Immaculate Execution Bill Walsh was a perfectionist, to both his benefit and detriment. For instance, check out some of his coaching points for the receiver on the basic slat play: Throw ball to middle of receiver and above his waist – if anything slow him up to catch it. Ball should be caught 1 ft. in front of receivers numbers. Additionally, Walsh liked to practice plays over and over until the team could execute it perfectly. A famous example was the 49ers practice before Super Bowl XXIX, where offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan described the most perfect execution he ever witnessed an offense achieve; the ball never touched the ground. And in the Super Bowl, Steve Young would throw 6 TDs, which is a Super Bowl record. At this point, you should start to see a theme emerging. Walsh tried to anticipate every possible scenario that his football team could encounter, and consequently prepare his team as much as possible. Walsh’s rigorous approach is probably the closest football coaching has ever gotten to science, and I don’t believe using the word “genius” to describe it is hyperbole. There is a very good reason it is still the most popular system in pro football, with disciples ranging from Mike Shanahan, Sean Payton, Mike McCarthy, and countless others. Now, this is by no means a comprehensive overview of the West Coast Offense. After all, both the 49ers old playbooks and Finding the Winning Edge are voluminous, and to fully understand the system, one must pore through the texts. However, these examples shed some light on the approach to the game of football espoused by Walsh. Furthermore, it becomes clear why a comprehensive, detailed system like the West Coast Offense would appeal to a well organized, detail oriented coach like Doug Marrone. Discipline will be key, and thankfully that is frequently mentioned as a major strength of Marrone’s. Stay tuned for the second part, where we’ll explore some of the types of plays, route concepts, and specific examples of both that are prevalent in a west coast system. Buddy Nixon is a Buffalo Bills blog that is an extension of how a few of us talk about the Bills. What you’ll find is an eclectic and irreverent mix of deep analysis, Buffalo Bills podcasts, draft coverage, and jokes you may only understand if you know who Fast Freddie Smith was. If that sounds like your kind of tailgate, unfold a chair and enjoy hanging with some of the most hardcore fans you’ll find. Better yet, tweet us, email us, or facebook us we’d love to here what you think!
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
One Gotta Go: NFL Legends (and Jose Canseco!) Have No Love For Captain America
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Lochte to be summoned to appear in Rio, charged with making false report

Carlos Ruiz traded to Dodgers

Ezekiel Elliott reportedly arrived at training camp overweight

Olympian auctions off medal to help young cancer patient

Report: Dodgers have turned down lowball offers for Puig

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jason Pierre-Paul’s lawsuit against Adam Schefter, ESPN will proceed

The Rock, Vin Diesel to settle 'rivalry' at WrestleMania 33?

Report: Browns trade former No. 6 overall pick Mingo to Pats

Harden organizing players-only minicamp with Rockets

Raiders file trademark applications for ‘Las Vegas Raiders’

U.S. Soccer hands Solo six month suspension for Olympic comments

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

A look at 2016 college football conference changes

The 20 best boxing movies ever

Will Perriman help Ravens find elusive WR success?

Jay Bouwmeester’s selection to Team Canada’s World Cup roster is a head-scratcher

Five MLB players with a lot to lose down the stretch

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Bruce Arians on sideline video use: 'It helps bad coaches'

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron's 'Cleveland Hustles'

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 20 best boxing movies of all time

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

A look at 2016 college football conference changes

Can Perriman's return help Ravens find oft-elusive WR success?

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron James' 'Cleveland Hustles'

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker