West Coast Offense


The west coast offense as I know it was developed by the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers Bill Walsh.But I do remember a offense that was similar and before Bill Walsh.

This offense was called Air Coryell, a system created by Don Coryell. His system was based on Sid Gilman designed to make the defense defend the entire football field.

This offensive philosophy is a finesse, timing offense that emphasis a short passing game to control the ball.

Most NFL offenses will use the running game to draw the linebackers and safeties closer to the line of scrimmage to open up the passing game for vertical attacks down the field.

The west coast offense does the opposite by using a quick, short, timed, horizontal passing attack to set up the running game for longer runs or longer passes.

The west-coast offense uses a variety of formation by putting running backs and receivers in motion to confuse thedefense.

This offense relies heavily on the ability to flood the defense with more receivers than they can cover. Quarterbacks in this system will often move around more with designed bootlegs and roll-outs that are tied in with the routes being run by the receivers.

The Objective of the West Coast Offense


  • Stretch out the defense out horizontally as well as vertically, forcing slower linebackers and safeties to cover quick receivers.
  • Control time of possession with the football by utilizing a short passing attack that is an extension of the running game.
  • Take what the defense gives you.
  • Make the defense adjust to you.
  • Create mismatches with speed, size, and 5 receivers.
  • Throw on any down and distance to keep the defense guessing.
  • Quick precise 3 step and 5 step drops by the quarterback to take the place of running the ball
  • 7 step drop passes are used on shallow crossing and deep ins and comeback routes


West Coast Offensive Type Players


You need NFL players who fit the west coast offensive system to run this offense.

Quarterbacks - The NFL Player needs to have good decision making skills and be able to throw the football with accuracy versus arm strength.

Must be able to choose from multiple receivers and throw the football quickly. Being able to run and get out of the pocket is a big plus.

Running Backs - In this offense, running backs needs to be skillful all around players. They need to be able to catch, run and block. Must have good receiving hands and route running skills.

Tight End - The tight ends need to be possession receivers and blockers. Sure handed receivers with the ability to catch the football in traffic.

Wide Receivers - This offense is focus on precise timed routes and a quick short passing attack. Receivers need to run precise routes, speed is not important as the ability to separate in traffic from defenders. The ability to run after the catch can turn a good receiver into a great one.

Offensive Lineman - You need quicker, mobile lineman with the ability to pull on traps plays and roll outs designed to get the quarterback outside the pocket. In general, you don't need offensive lineman to blow defenders off the line of scrimmage in the west coast offense.

Bill Walsh has stated the following, The term 'West Coast Offense' "... is an umbrella term for precision-timed passing, variable formations, and the exploitation of each player's skills."

In 'Finding A Winning Edge', Coach Walsh has also said, " The 'West Coast Offense' still amounts to nothing more than the total attention to detail and an appreciation for every facet of offensive football and refinement of those things that are needed to provide an environment that allows people to perform at maximum levels of self-actualization."

The Creators of the West Coast Offense



NFL coaches who created in their own way their philosophy of the west coast offense.

Sid Gilman Coach, Executive, and Innovator, AFL Championship, AFL Los Angeles and San Diego Chargers in the 1960's - 1969

Paul Brown NFL Owner of the Cincinnati Bengals, Coach, General and mentor to Bill Walsh.

Don Coryell aka "Air Coryell" on e of the greatest offenses in History - Coach of the St Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers in 1970's and 1980's.

Bill Walsh Coach of the San Francisco 49ers - 3 Super Bowls

I remember running the west coast offense with my 10 and under football team.

I remember one time we were a touchdown behind and I had my team run the two minute drill and the referee started watching in amazement of what our coaches were able to get the young team to do with the offense while running the two minute drill.

The other teams coaches started complaining to the referee about the time had run out, so the referee came over to us and told us that he had to called the game but he really didn't want too. He wanted to see if we could score.

My 10 and under team grasp the offense very well and understood the west coast offense. I really like this offense.