Monday, October 31, 2005

Why I Hate the West Coast Offense

after years of bitching about the west coast offense (more specifically andy's version of the west coast offense), i decided to sit down and think about exactly why i hate it. let me preface by saying that, in general, i am among the more optimistic eagles fans out there. those who know me know that i am not a gloom and doomer. i backed the team when they drafted a QB over ricky williams (not don specifically as i didn't know that much about him, but i did agree that they had to build around a QB). i generally defend the team against what i consider to be unfair criticism of their management philosophies. i also believe that andy reid is the best coach the eagles have ever had and may be the best coach in any sport that i have seen in this city. billy cunningham (burnout), mike keenan (jackass), and larry brown (the devil) are right there with him, but their faults seem to be much more serious than andy's (too methodical and deliberate). he doesn't seem to have a quick processor, but certainly does seem to be in it for the long haul, does seem to be pretty damn likeable, and certainly isn't the devil.

that said, i hate the west coast offense and here's why:

- terminology is too complex - as if it's bad enough that they don't call the play in from the sideline quickly enough, have you ever heard don say one of the bird's plays on the air? it's an entire paragraph of text. instead of a nice play like "I Right 32 Iso" where everything is scripted ahead of time, andy's offense is more like an a la carte menu where you mix and match parts like a mr. potato head. i can see where this offers you the most flexibility in terms of game planning, but i think i also think that it adds lots of complexity and time on game day (when you are on the clock). the verbiage of each play specifies every offensive skill position's assignment and where they line up as well as the o-line blocking assignment. that's a lot of information to communicate effectively in the short amount of time between plays. this is one of the reasons why there is such little time left on the clock when the birds get to the line.

- it takes 4 years to learn it - are you kidding me? in a league where the average career lasts just over 5 years, running the west coast offense means most of your players aren't fully up-to-speed for a large portion of their careers. you can get an entire college degree in that amount of time. this is another huge downside of the complexity of the offense.

- not enough power running - the theory behind the west coast offense is using short passes as a ball control mechanism and hope for people to break tackles in the secondary. all this passing means that teams cannot run when they need to (e.g. the eagles), especially when the need to pick up one measly yard. it's football for cripes sake, when are the fat guys going to start knocking heads? it's less fun watching fat guys trying to keep some slightly less fat guys from running around them than it is watching fat guys trying to mash the hell out of those slightly less fat guys. even most of the other coaches from the bill walsh tree have ended up coaching primarily run based offenses. holmgren, shanhan, gruden, mariucci, and sherman are all run first coaches now. they've all seen the light. why not reid?

- getting long in the tooth - the west coast offense has been around for quite a while now. every defensive coordinator knows what makes it tick and has a set of strategies designed to combat it.

- upside comes with a downside - in order for the WCO to work, everyone needs to be in sync. this means the QB and the receivers need to make the same read on how the defense is playing, the o-line needs to be able to protect the passer, the qb has to make an accurate throw, and the receiver needs to catch the ball. if any one of those things doesn't happen, the play won't work. on a pass play, the *entire* o-line needs to block well or the play breaks down. contrast that to a running play... in order for a running play to work, the o-line needs to carve out *one* hole in the defense somewhere and the running back needs to see it and run through it. that's it, not nearly as many variables with a run. also, the probability of having a successful play even though someone on the o-line completely blows an assignment is much greater on a run than on a pass (especially if your QB has a sports hernia). the upside of the passing game is certainly higher than the upside of the running game -- much greater opportunity for big plays -- but the downside of the passing game is much greater than the downside of the passing game as well. i find few things as painful to watch as an out of sync passing game, where pass after pass continues to hit the turf.

- last, but not least, it's boring - the west coast offense is not far from an endless loop of this play: qb gets the snap, takes a 3 step drop, flings it to a wideout running a 5 yard slant, wideout catches the ball and falls or dives to the ground. yay the team got a 7 yard gain. boo it's boring to watch. too much dink and dunk passing for this football fan.

sad quote from the past: "that's eagles football, baby! mash, mash, mash, score." -- duce staley

the philadelphia eagles are as far away from that model as anyone in the history of professional football.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Andy Reid's play calling is like the Commodore Amiga. Icredible for it's time, but after a couple years, it was surpassed and buried, and Commodore was unable to change and adapt with the times.

- Joe

11:11 AM EST  

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