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Interesting Paul Woody article.

Sports Focus: New Variation On An Old Idea

Skins add West Coast twist Davis figures to remain key in ground game



Marty Schottenheimer has tried to bring a Midwest sensibility to an East Coast team, so perhaps it makes sense that the offense he plans to employ is of the West Coast variety.

Or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

"I don't think the West Coast offense exists anymore in the pure form that was developed by Bill Walsh," Schottenheimer said. "The teams in the league that use it, use it as a core with a far different approach to it."

In its purest form, the West Coast offense featured two backs who were equally adept at running, receiving and blocking, two wide receivers, one of whom usually was a "possession" receiver, and a tight end who created all sorts of mismatches with linebackers and safeties.

"I never call it the West Coast offense, because there is nothing that we do that is 'West Coast' at all," offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye said.

Well, almost nothing.

"We have a five-step passing game that is similar to what they did in that system," Raye said. "Our protection schemes are similar to what they did in that system, but those are probably the only things.

"Teams have had to go away from the pure West Coast offense because it is so difficult to find two backs who can run, catch and block. The offense has been tweaked and tweaked."

The Redskins are tweaking it some more. There will be times when they run plays out of formations that are more similar to the Joe Gibbs, one-back, two-tight end offense than the Bill Walsh West Coast offense. At other times, the running back will be split out as a wide receiver.

"We are a multiple personnel group, which that system didn't use," Raye said. "We use a lot of two tight ends, which was not a part of that offense in its infancy. But it gives us the ability to throw while keeping the threat of a one-back running game."

Stephen Davis is the starting running back. He has gained almost 2,723 yards in the past two seasons, a fact that is not lost on Raye. In the West Coast offense, the short passing game often took the place of the running game. The Redskins will have a short passing game, but they also will have a power running game with Davis.

"It would be ludicrous to take the ball out of the hands of a 1,500-yard rusher," Raye said. "In this division, I think you've got to be able to run the football so you can set up other parts of your offense."

The tight end also plays a significant role in the West Coast offense. Last year in Kansas City, with Raye as the coordinator, Tony Gonzalez caught 93 passes for 1,202 yards. Stephen Alexander is the primary pass-catching tight end for the Redskins. Can he count on a busy season?

"I can't make that statement," Raye said. "Alexander is a Pro Bowl player, and we'll try to use him in a similar role.

"Historically, where I've been, the tight end has been an integral part of what we do. He is the one guy you can get matched up on a linebacker or a safety, guys who aren't used to covering."

The biggest question regarding the West Coast offense has been how well quarterback Jeff George will fit into it. The West Coast offense is known more for its horizontal passing game where a short pass is thrown to a back or receiver who then runs for big yardage. George long has been considered a quarterback who is more likely to throw the ball to the West Coast than accept the restrictions in the West Coast offense.

But this is a version of the West Coast offense even George can love.

"You play to the personnel you have," Raye said. "With our quarterback and receivers, we have the ability to stretch the field, and we're going to do that. That doesn't mean we're going to abandon our ball control or our five-step, control passing game. But we definitely will take shots up the field because in this league, you've got to throw touchdown passes."

Schottenheimer said, "I think this offense gives us a tremendous amount of versatility. I look at it from a defensive perspective. The defense has to go find people all the time. It creates some uncertainty, albeit brief, within the defense."

Based on the performance in the first three preseason games, there is some uncertainty within the Redskins' offense. Schottenheimer hopes that is but a brief experience as well.

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That's why I always check here first, nothing gets by this board. And not just once. smile.gif

I always wondered how a scheme involving a heavy dose of Stephen Davis could be considered a WCO. Heck, you could probably just as easily call it a modified Smash-Mouth offense too ... which personally, I prefer. cool.gif


"Men, there's nothing to get excited about. The situation is normal; we are surrounded."

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I don't care what we call it as long as we can move the ball. We have enough talent a the skill positions to be a potent offense. If we can improve on the line, as I imagine we will with time, I have hopes of a fine offensive year.

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