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Defenses faster since the 80s? Really?


The true West Coast Offense does not use a 3 digit numbering system for pass routes. It uses colors to denote formation, 1 or 2 digit system to denote the pass protection, and a naming system for the pass route. Exs: Red Right 22 Okie, Red Right H2 Texas, Brown Right 23 Z Drive, Green Right 22 Z In. Please make sure you do your research before you post. Bill Walsh's playbooks can be downloaded from numerous sites on the Internet. The "westcoastoffense.com" website (where I assume the author got his information) uses West Coast Offense principles, but not nomenclature.


The West Coast Offense is an offensive system that utilizes short passes to move the football. The key differentiator for the WCO is that it requires receivers to run highly disciplined routes, and these routes are timed with the footwork of the QB. In the WCO, there are several different types of 3 step and 5 step drops that are dependent on the route called. When Walsh looked at film to evaluate potential QBs for his system, he looked at footwork first and arm strength second.


Aside from "Bill Walsh's original west coast offense was a DEEP throwing offense. Greg Cook was not "weak-armed" but had one of the strongest arms people had ever seen." It sounds like you're talking more about variants of the west coast offense than the development of it, I beleive that information should be in a split-off article "Variants of the west coast offense" that is linked too as a "See Also: Variants of the west coast offense". Feel free to hit my talk page if theres anything you feel you could have me do. Mithotyn 00:00, 29 October 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Offense name[edit]

Why don't we call it what it is on the coaches who developed the offense rather than attaching the media created moniker... The "Bill Walsh" offense is a descendant of the "Gillman/Coryell" offense. (Coryell added a streamlining number based play calling system to Gillman's offense) and also takes into account the short passing game of the Cleveland Browns of the 1950s with Otto Graham. I would rather throw the term "West Coast" out the window it is an erroneous label. The 49ers long history with the Walsh offense will end in 2006 - they just hired Norv Turner who runs the Gillman/Coryell offense. IT is easier to remember than the vague "West Coast" term.


The Bill Walsh page says he perfected WCO, yet this page says it's got little to do with the 49ers, choosing instead to mention the Bengals first. Question: If the 49ers had remained at the bottom of the league and Walsh fired after a few years of failure ... would the WCO have spread?

Maybe the writing here could be improved:

"In American football, the term "West Coast Offense" is an offensive-minded strategic system of play."

It's called the WC Offense, so we may not need to be told that it's about offense. And since any sytem of play is strategic (a strategy), the last bit adds very little.

And I read this:

"Intrinsically, it is designed to be high-scoring with a great deal of yardage accumulated, a near opposite to Walsh's approach."

I wonder, did SF accumulate lots of yards and high scores?

Brainhell 05:03, 27 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Regardless of the confusion with the origin, when almost anyone says "West Coast Offense" these days, they mean the 80s 49ers walsh offense.

It might be useful to have a list of west coast offense coaches, or even a "tree"... Walsh, Holmgren, Reid, Gruden, etc...

Another useful note is that yes, Greg Cook was a terrific deep thrower and instrumental in the long downfield offense that was originally called west. But Cook got hurt early in his career and onl played sporadically after that. Replacing him was Ken Anderson, who didn't have the arm Cook had. Walsh modified his offense to suit what Anderson could do. He managed to have both Cook and Anderson lead the league in passing, but with completely different styles...

Virgil Carter and the real story of the origin of the Walsh Offense[edit]

It wasn't Ken Anderson that Walsh worked with after the injury to Greg Cook. It was Virgil Carter (and its verifiable through the West Coast Offense site, ESPN's story on the West Coast Offense). Anderson came a little bit later than that. This move from Cook to Carter came around 1969/1970. Anderson was not the successor it was more mobile less strong armed Virgil Carter. (Note: Do a Yahoo search of Bill Walsh & Virgil Carter combined - and you will find the real story). 20:58, 23 December 2008 (UTC)


Walsh was never a direct protegee of Gillman. Zimmerman's point is that there are two separate trees, the Gillman/Coryell ("True" WCO--Downfield Stretching) and the Brown/Walsh (I'm sure many would include Stram), which is the "popular conception" of WCO (Short Stretching). A lot of this article blurs the distinctions.--Son of Somebody 15:24, 11 August 2006 (UTC)[reply]

John Rauch[edit]

John Rauch's influence on Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense needs to be added. "I learned so much of my football from John Rauch. The whole system of offense that is now termed the West Coast Offense, much of it originated through John Rauch." [1] Rauch first learned passing when he played QB for Wally Butts at the University of Georgia. Frank Leahy called Wally Butts "football's finest passing coach." And Fran Tarkenton, who played under Wally Butts, said Butts "knew more football than any other man I ever met."[2] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:42, 3 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Michael Vick, Vince Young and College Football[edit]

Yeah....the Bill Walsh offense does suit running quarterbacks - but works even more effectively if the quarterback could pass. Steve Young was a very accurate passer, a younger Brett Favre was a good runner and an accurate passer. However Vince Young had opportunities with two different coordinators with two different versions (Chow, Heimerdinger) - and still is a mediocre to average passer. It's quite a jump from college to the pros from making two reads to five reads - since there is no read option run/pass in the NFL. The same could be said for Michael Vick who was average as a passer - but terrific as a runner. Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Steve Young and Joe Montana are all experts in running the West Coast system; they run when they have to but also buy time by moving around in the pocket and waiting for the adjustments by the receivers instead of taking off after the second read. (Note: both Young and McNabb had that tendency early in their careers). In college football - it's harder to establish this offense especially with personnel changes every 4-5 years and the availability of such personnel for the offense. The most explosive Bill Walsh Offense run in college in recent years was by Nebraska, they had no problems moving the ball up and down the field; they had problems stopping their opponent doing the same. Maryland's offense is the most intriguing; they are moving from the old WCO (Vertical Stretching) to the Bill Walsh based system (short passes, crossing routes) and is changing their terminology thusly. Head Coach Ralph Friedgen from the old Gillman/Coryell school (former Chargers Offensive Coordinator) has relinquished his play-calling and plays to James Franklin (former receivers coach for the Packers under Mike Sherman). 18:26, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

It's end of December of the 2010 NFL season as I write this. It's almost like the article can tell the future b/c Vick is tearing it up and clearly showing how he is best suited for the WCO and is clearly the best type of QB you want to have the football when you talk about moving the chains, game strategy and making the defense have to worry about the pass and the run. Exactly what the WCO tries to do. Something Steve Young, Mcnabb, Jeff Garcia were all very good at, but vick has taken the WCO possibilities to a whole nother level. Vick was always a good passer. The Falcons recievers he had always led the league in dropped passes. He's been voted as having the quickest releases in the NFL and it's been said plenty of times his spirals are probably the best to ever been thrown in thh NFL. All it took was the great coaching staff by of the Philadelphia Eagles to get him to fully maximize his passing abilities by staying in the pocket longer to get to his 5th read (and he's def paid the price by getting hit too many time b/c the Eagle OL is horrible in 2010) and you've got the ultimate WCO, Wild cat, running QB, whatever you want, etc... Quarterback. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:45, 30 December 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Urban Meyer's Spread is not a West Coast Offense[edit]

Please check your sources before making Urban Meyer's Spread a WCO... It isn't.... Please refer to a website called Smart Football. It's nothing but offensive and defensive football theories... I am removing that sentence or I am going to challenge it. Sfcon10

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:26, 11 October 2011 (UTC)[reply] 

Here is the link[edit]

An addendum to my statement. Meyer learned his offense through various sources associated with the spread offense (Erickson, Tiller) and option offenses (Paul Johnson, now at Georgia Southern, Rich Rodriguez).

Here is the link and origin of the Urban Meyer "Spread" offense:


Sfcon10 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sfcon10 (talkcontribs) 02:22, 11 October 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Air Coryell and Memorisation[edit]

"This provides an efficient way to communicate many different plays with minimal memorization. Conversely, the West Coast Offense could in theory have more freedom, since route combinations are not limited by 0-9 digits, but at the price of much more memorization required by the players."

Which is it? (talk) 08:08, 6 January 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Missing Material[edit]

Jerry Burns - I don't see Jerry Burns mentioned once in the entire article and from what I've learned he was a pertinent WCO forefather. "Walsh said, 'I stole it from Jerry Burns'" Haleonearth (talk) 04:59, 12 March 2013 (UTC)[reply]

I'm sure Walsh's offense was cobbled from many sources....Jerry Burns is probably one of them. So was Paul Brown (some of the plays including "The Catch" are Cleveland Browns plays), and so was Al Davis. Walsh's offense was more than just plays, it was also concepts and organization (including the scripting of plays before a game which every offensive style now follows). (talk) 17:09, 21 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]

Who's running the West Coast Offense???[edit]

I disagree with the Rams running it... They ran it when Shurmur was there, but Schottenheimer has Norv Turner roots... Buffalo is running it under Paul Hackett's kid (Nathaniel Hackett)... The Jets hired Marty Morhinweg to run theirs. The Raiders hired Greg Olson (who worked with both the 49ers (Mariucci) and the Bucs (Gruden)...and The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Jedd Fisch who worked under Carroll in Seattle and Childress in Minnesota. More proof that Brian Schottenheimer doesn't run the WCO is this St Louis newspaper article.

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/football/professional/schottenheimer-to-lead-rams-offense/article_c96e47d8-2020-5ea3-a5cc-33edba13580e.html (talk) 18:41, 24 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]