The Vikings will be adopting the West Coast offense under head coach Brad Childress.
There is some dispute over the origin of the West Coast offense. In January, 1999, Bill Walsh gave his take on the West Coast offense in an article in The Sporting News, saying it’s misnamed because, he says, it began in Cincinnati when he was on the Bengals staff.
But Sports Illustrated‘s Paul Zimmerman, or Dr. Z, traces the beginning of the West Coast offense to Sid Gillman of the 60s-era San Diego Chargers and Francis Schmidt of 1930s-era Ohio State teams.
Annoyingly, no one ever mentions the Vikings as a West Coast team even though the 70s-era teams under Bud Grant and his offensive coordinator Jerry Burns ran an offense consisting of a short, ball-control passing game directed by Fran Tarkenton with running back Chuck Foreman often used as a receiver our of the backfield. (Tarkenton himself argues in this NFL Films interview that the Vikings ran a forerunner of Walsh’s West Coast offense).
Pasquarelli describes the Bill Walsh version of the West Coast offense thusly:
The initial Walsh concept was for a standard
pro-set offense — two backs in split alignment, two wide receivers and
a tight end — designed to get the ball quickly from the quarterback to
the skill-position players. The idea was to release all five of the
eligible receivers at the same time, relying on three- and five-step
drops by the quarterback to compensate for most blocking breakdowns,
and to throw the ball crisply and on the break.
Sounds a lot like the Eagles offense, which probably means that we’ll get something closely akin to a Walsh-style West Coast offense.
ESPN’s Joe Theismann, Sean Salisbury and Mark Malone list the pros and cons of the West Coast offense. One opinion they all share is that the West Coast puts less pressure on the offensive line because the lineman do not have to hold their blocks as long as they do in other systems; that will help the Vikings current linemen.
Mark Lawrence provides an in-depth breakdown of the Bill Walsh version of the West Coast offense on his Football 101 site. WestCoastOffense.com and a PowerPoint presentation by Ron Jenkins called The Ten Basic Quarterback Reads in the Multiple West Coast Offense (only works with the Internet Explorer browser) are designed specifically as aids to teaching the West Coast offense.
For a superb explanation of the interdependence of the quarterback drop and the receiver’s patterns in the proper execution of timing routes, watch these NFL Films videos featuring Bill Walsh and Joe Montana.