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Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

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Old 09-06-2008, 12:39 AM   #1
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Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

First off, I'm admitting my knowledge of the WCO is basic at best. The way I always picture it is larger, strong receivers running a high percentage of quick slants and other short routes that play to tempo and catching the defense off guard. Because the routes don't usually have the receiver beating the defender before the catch it's important he be able to take contact, break tackles, etc to turn the short catch into a bigger gain. And that's about as far as I can go w/ it... feel free to correct, add, explain anything and everything.

Based on my limited knowledge of the WCO the selections of Thomas, Davis and Kelly made a hell of a lot of sense, especially for the bigger picture beyond '08. But the strategy for '08 seems unclear and that's what I'm really wondering about. Thomas and Kelly do not appear to have any hope to significantly contribute until late in the season, and maybe not until next season. In the meantime, our starting corp of WRs is smallish, not particularly made for contact, and still struggling (arguably, maybe) to build some chemistry w/ JC. So... why did Cooley have only one catch against NY and very few looks and Davis nothing? Where are the two TE sets that put bigger targets on the field for JC in the new WCO? It seems almost stubborn to try to utilize our "non-WCO type of receivers" when we've got physical monsters like Cooley and Davis. Sure, I know Moss and ARL have to get some looks, but wouldn't both guys have more success beating defenders downfield if defenses constantly had to key on Cooley and Davis catching short passes underneath, breaking tackles and picking up chunks of yards?

So... let's hear it.
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Old 09-06-2008, 01:32 AM   #2
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

i'm sure there's better stuff outthere but wikipedia isn't bad on this: West Coast offense - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

maybe davis just lost the numbers game, and zorn decided the three-wide sets he wanted, etc. were more important to the game plan.
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Old 09-07-2008, 04:35 PM   #3
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

Funny, I still don't think about looking things up on Wik very often. Their analysis of the WCO was def helpful if not a bit disconcerting.

The West Coast offense requires a quarterback who throws extremely accurately, and often blindly, very close to opposing players' hands. In addition, it requires the quarterback to be able quickly to pick one of 5 receivers to throw to much more quickly than previously used systems. Often, the quarterback cannot think about the play, but instead reacts instinctively and thus is often under the control of the offensive coordinator, calling the plays for him.

Personally I've never considered JC an accurate QB let alone an extremely accurate QB. His passes are typically high or low and often behind the receiver on slants and other routes that have the target going cross field. I also don't see JC quickly scan the field and then quickly lock on a target - there has always been a apprehensiveness after he takes the snap.

The other disconcerting piece of the article referred to WR:

Also, the West Coast offense requires sure-handed receivers comfortable catching in heavy traffic, and the system downplays speedy, larger receivers who are covered easily in short yardage situation.

While ARL seems to have average comfort level catching in traffic Moss IMO is the opposite of this description. Moss drops lots of passes and seems to become very skidish in heavy traffic.

What I have to begin to wonder is what made the FO think our QB and WRs would somehow flourish in the WCO? Again, Thomas and Kelly begin to address the issue but what is the plan for '08 then?
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Old 09-07-2008, 04:58 PM   #4
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

I posted this in the Cooley Thread, but I'll put it here too:


"THe three guys who I didnt see get any chances on Thursday that I really hope arent ignroed are : Chris Cooley, Mike Sellers and Ladell Betts. Cooley saw 1 catch for 7 yards, we've all discussed this, but thats got to change.

Mike Sellers: The guy has proven to be far to veristile over the last few years to not be a part of this offense. He needs to touch the ball at least a few times a game...weather it be passes over the middle, running short yardage or what have you, he needs to have touches.

Ladell Betts: He got, what? One carry Thursday? I'm defintley a "Portis Guy" and I want Clinton in there during the crunch times, but Betts defintley should be seeing looks. He is supposed to be the big complement to Portis, and he needs to be featured more.

Again, I say this after one (tough) game, so I'm not trying to go overboard with it...I say that in a statment of thats what I hope isnt a trend over the course of the year. Clearly it was a tough night offensivley Thursday, but I just hope I dont see this continue."
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:04 PM   #5
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

You're talking about great points. I'd like to see us scheme around our talent but it seems like we're not doing that.

Since we have a new coach and thus a new scheme I'd like to see implement personnel appropriate for this new system. Give Zorn a QB that is compatible with this offense.

I was a Campbell fan when Gibbs was here but now that our offensive dynamic is different I'd like to see a change. Unfortunately I think that we have to stick with Campbell because of how vested we are in him.
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:14 PM   #6
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

One thing that will help the WCO in DC is for one of the two rookie WRs to step up and become atleast a #2. IMO, the best thing that could happen is for one of them to become a #1, which would leave Santana as an excellent 2.

(converting better than 3 of 13 on 3rd downs won't hurt, either)
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:20 PM   #7
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

Well, the Eagles run a WCO and they were throwing way downfield today. They looked impressive for a team that everyone says "has no wideouts".

I think I counted two times when Campbell threw it over 25 yards. Now, whether that's on Campbell for not trying anything deep, or if it's Zorn who's not calling plays that go deep, I don't know.

If the WCO offense is nothing but short passes, (and I don't think it is) we appear to have that part of the offense down pat.

For what it's worth, Doc Walker on his radio show this week, said that the WCO is the most overrated sham in the NFL. Only one team has ever run it in its purest sense and that was the 49ers under Bill Walsh -- I've also heard that from Randy Cross, a former 49er who played for Bill Walsh.
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:21 PM   #8
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

Jerry Rice is 6-2 and played around 190lbs. John Taylor 6-1 185. They teamed to be one of the most explosive WCO offense ever.
Of modern players, Deion Branch (the Seahawks #1 wr currently) is 5-9 and Nate Burleson (#2) is listed at 6-0 but I think that's with cleats on.
Packers run a similar variation with Greg Jennings (5-11) and Donald Driver (6-0).
DeSean Jackson is 5-10 and he looked pretty awesome today for the Eagles.

Moss and ARE are 5-10. It's not a height issue for them it's a catch the ball even though you will get hit. That's why on 3rd and 8 they'll run a 7 yd cross expecting to catch in stride and run away. Where they are limited is inside the 10 yd line where the rules favor the wr (see Thursday's game when the cb was pushed down and flagged) and a tall strong wr should be unstoppable. But for the other 90 yards they should excel.

As for JC's accuracy, he's more than accurate enough. He just isn't confident enough to stick it in there. Can you imagine Favre, who most people say did pretty good in a similar WCO, not throwing picks? That's part of the WCO. High risk high reward. But you have to be confident and never doubt yourself or your skills (thus why Zorn's frustration with JC was his double clutching and hesitation rather than his incompletions or 7 yd passes on 3rd and 8).

Each coach and coordinator puts their own variations into the offense Walsh designed (based on Air Corryell which also gave us the H-back and Gibbs single back offenses). And coaches alter their system from year to year based on personel.
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:29 PM   #9
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

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I wish Zorn kept Al Saunders. We'd be a lot further along...
That wasn't going to happen. Saunders was goner no matter what. When they hired Zorn as the offensive coordinator first, the front office made a conscious decision to overhaul the offense.

I wonder if they had any thoughts that it would take "two years" for Campbell to fully comprehend it?

Come to think of it, maybe this was all a test to discover how 'football smart' Campbell is. Perhaps Cerrato wanted to find out how versatile Jason was, how adaptable he would be -- and if he doesn't pass the test, he's gone ???

Remember, Jason Campbell wasn't Cerrato's pick...
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:34 PM   #10
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

The most important aspect of a WCO is the quick decision making of the QB in the passing game. It is an offense that often takes even good QBs 2-3 years to run effectively.

The theory of the WCO is to spread a defense horizontally, in an effort to expose mismatches. It typically utilizes a quick-rhythm short passing attack with many 3 step drops. It involves all eligible receivers, including the halfback and the fullback. I'm not sure that I agree with our fixation on huge WR's in the WCO. Mike Williams was a huge target but a total failure in Detroit. Joey Galloway is a small receiver who has had a long and successful career, mostly in the WCO. DeSean Jackson looked outstanding in his first game in Philly's WCO and he can't weigh more than 175 in full pads.

Often overlooked is the importance of O-line play. It is impossible to run a 3-step rhythm pass attack if the D-line is constantly harrasing the QB. For that reason, I really feel that O-line has to be a high priority going into the Skins next draft. We are starting 4 guys over the age of 30, and a 5th who was an undrafted FA rookie last year.
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:40 PM   #11
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

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That wasn't going to happen. Saunders was goner no matter what. When they hired Zorn as the offensive coordinator first, the front office made a conscious decision to overhaul the offense.

Remember, Jason Campbell wasn't Cerrato's pick...
I don't see why they try to bring in a WCO guy in Zorn and talk about overhauling the offense but tell you that they are using Gibbs running game???

That sounds really dumb because Gibbs offense was run heavy and the WCO is pass heavy. You pick one or the other but you can't have both. The thought of that is paradox. Why would leave the running game from the last regime?

We should just focus on one cohesive style and go with it. From our scheme to our personnel, we are WAY too a la carte and it shows on the field.
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:50 PM   #12
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

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Jerry Rice is 6-2 and played around 190lbs. John Taylor 6-1 185. They teamed to be one of the most explosive WCO offense ever.
Of modern players, Deion Branch (the Seahawks #1 wr currently) is 5-9 and Nate Burleson (#2) is listed at 6-0 but I think that's with cleats on.
Packers run a similar variation with Greg Jennings (5-11) and Donald Driver (6-0).
DeSean Jackson is 5-10 and he looked pretty awesome today for the Eagles.

Moss and ARE are 5-10. It's not a height issue for them it's a catch the ball even though you will get hit. That's why on 3rd and 8 they'll run a 7 yd cross expecting to catch in stride and run away. Where they are limited is inside the 10 yd line where the rules favor the wr (see Thursday's game when the cb was pushed down and flagged) and a tall strong wr should be unstoppable. But for the other 90 yards they should excel.

As for JC's accuracy, he's more than accurate enough. He just isn't confident enough to stick it in there. Can you imagine Favre, who most people say did pretty good in a similar WCO, not throwing picks? That's part of the WCO. High risk high reward. But you have to be confident and never doubt yourself or your skills (thus why Zorn's frustration with JC was his double clutching and hesitation rather than his incompletions or 7 yd passes on 3rd and 8).

Each coach and coordinator puts their own variations into the offense Walsh designed (based on Air Corryell which also gave us the H-back and Gibbs single back offenses). And coaches alter their system from year to year based on personel.
I disagree that Walsh's WCO is a successor to Air Coryell. Don Coryell's passing game was a vertical attack that had more 5 and 7 step drops, with greater emphasis on passing the ball downfield. Desciples of Coryell's priciples have included Joe Gibbs, Ernie Zampese, Norv Turner, Mike Martz, and Al Saunders. Desciples of Walsh principles include Mike Holmgren, John Gruden, Andy Reid, Mike Shanahan, and Jim Zorn (among many others). I definitely see the Coryell and the Walsh passing strategies as distinctly different ways of attacking a defense.
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:51 PM   #13
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

Sure you can have both. When they run the ball, the plays are Gibbsian, and when they run pass plays, the calls are Zornian. Where's the paradox? The WCO offense describes the passing style of an offense, not the running style.
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:54 PM   #14
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

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Originally Posted by Skinny Tee View Post
I don't see why they try to bring in a WCO guy in Zorn and talk about overhauling the offense but tell you that they are using Gibbs running game???

That sounds really dumb because Gibbs offense was run heavy and the WCO is pass heavy. You pick one or the other but you can't have both. The thought of that is paradox. Why would leave the running game from the last regime?

We should just focus on one cohesive style and go with it. From our scheme to our personnel, we are WAY too a la carte and it shows on the field.
You're confusing schemes and tendencies with plays and playbook. The running plays and terminology is the same as last year and they are run out of the same formations that Zorn integrated his passing plays and terminology into.
For example, an off tackle right out of a strong split I run is named the same thing this year as last. The name of the personnel group changed but not the line calls or the name of the play. Now, Zorn might never call that play (or any off tackle run) ever but that is the name of the play in the playbook.
There are plays that Bill Walsh designed thirty years ago run by the Eagles, Skins, Packers, Seahawks and Bucs. But each team names it different and sometimes the name of one play in Tampa is very similar to one run in Philly but they are completely different plays.
The focus of the offense is drastically different and the scheme is too. But the running plays kept the same verbage.
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Old 09-07-2008, 05:58 PM   #15
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Re: Questions about the WCO, our strategy and your thoughts

I think Zorn picked Colt because he's perfect for this offense. Peter King saw Jason practice this year and basically said he was the best he's ever seen. Why can't he transfer that to a real game? I don't think he's confident at all and at this point may be in over his head. I like Jason but I think it's time to man up and let the ball fly. Playing scared ain't gonna cut it.
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