What is the "West Coast Offense" in the NFL?

I heard this term mentioned again earlier today on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption”, when they briefly mentioned Bill Walsh.

Can someone explain what the term “West Coast Offense” means in the context of the NFL?

The offense is based primarily on passing.


Lots of short passes. As opposed to lots of rushing.

I’m a Niners fan and grew up watching the West Coast offense. It seems pretty ordinary and successful, when used by good players, but as it turns out, not everyone agrees. Last football season a Sunday hardly went by when I didn’t have an argument with my friend Dynosaur over whether the West Coast offence was a valid way to football or not. Apparently, some more “traditional” fans consider it to be weird, bad, and inherently wrong. Or maybe it’s just Dynosaur. I’m definitely willing to believe that.

Reeder’s cite will give you a whole lot of detail if you poke around. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:

“West Coast” is a reference to, like you say, Bill Walsh, who is credited with really putting this particular type of offense together. In reality, parts of the offense go back as far as guys like Paul Brown, but Walsh is the one who created the whole package as you see it today. The West Coast offense started getting popular during Walsh’s days with the 49ers.

The West Coast offense’s basic principles are thus:

[ul][li]Throw lots of quick, short passes to multiple receivers, involving many different targets- running backs, tight ends and receivers. Emphasize completions and yards after the catch. Throw swing passes to the running backs very often. Don’t rely on the deep ball- gain short chunks consistently and move the chains. [/li]
[li]A typical West Coast offense, in the early days, would almost always use two running backs in a split formation, two receivers, and a tight end. They all need to be able, and ready, to catch the ball at any time.[/li]
[li]Don’t forget to run the ball. A West Coast offense uses the pass to set up the run- that is, runs against a defense which is anticipating the pass. Draw plays and the like are frequent. The offensive line should be able to play in space, pulling and leading. This means no 350 pounders, instead using smaller, more agile linemen.[/li]
[li]Incorporate multiple possibilities for adjustment out of every set, and on every play. The quarterback and receiver should be able to adjust routes and react to the defense once they get to the line. On every play the quarterback should be aware of many possible receiving options, and should use them all effectively. Whoever gets open should get the ball, as quickly as possible. This obviously puts a great deal of emphasis on having a smart, accurate quarterback.[/li]

That’s all you need to know, really. Complete short, quick passes, involve everybody, get yards after the catch, and run the ball effectively, and you’ve got a successful West Coast offense.

Donchy’all think Sid Gillman and Don Coryell deserves some credit?“don+coryell”+offense&hl=en