Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo
Extremeskins

Zorn on the Horns of a Dilemma This Season


Oldfan

Recommended Posts

Like Jim Zorn, the successful WCO quarterbacks, Montana, Young and Hasslebeck are disciples of the Walsh doctrine, strong in their belief in the advantages of "throwing on rhythm" -- timing the pass routes with the QB's dropback and setup. And, like Walsh, one of the gripes WCO proponents have had against the shotgun is that the rhythm advantage is lost.

So, while Gibbs and other coaches didn't like the shotgun idea mostly because of its incompatibility with the conventional pro running game, the WCO guys added the loss of their prized timing device to the negative side of the ledger.

Since Walsh's day, defenses have been catching up with the WCO, though. They have learned that they can make life difficult for the QB on those shorter drops by having their linemen get pressure and then get their hands up for deflections. And since the WCO uses less maximum protection schemes, they can often sneak an unblocked LB onto the end of the line when the QB is under center. When the QB drops back, he's dead meat.

The QB dropping back from under center is better able to read the defensive backfield alignment, but the QB in the shotgun is better able to read the rush, plus he has an extra second to react to it.

I think the very basic Walsh idea of using short passes with bigger receivers, able to get yards after the catch, and to achieve ball control, will survive from the original concepts; but steps need to be taken to simplify the WCO. It should not take three years for a QB to learn an NFL offense. I see this as an obvious flaw. For this reason, I believe Jim Zorn will have to give up on his preference to have his QB throwing on rhythm.

I foresee NFL teams with two basic offensive schemes, one intended to get the lead -- with QBs throwing lots of passes from the shotgun; and another intended to hold a lead, with QBs under center and more run-dominant (If the defense can't stop the run, of course, then you keep your QB under center).

Jason Campbell is having problems making the quick decisions needed to run this offense effectively. I think Jim Zorn will have to adapt to Jason's game by using more shotgun (at six-five with long arms, he could set up six yards back and it would be very difficult for a center, even intentionally, to snap the ball over his head). With a one-step drop, Jason would be setting up seven yards behind the LOS and better able to see the rush.

Quick decision making is a key factor for any QB passing against today's pressure defenses, but all QBs, regardless of how quick they are, will fare better with an extra second to react.

Let's see how well Jim adapts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For this reason, I believe Jim Zorn will have to give up on his preference to have his QB throwing on rhythm.

You're effectively asking Jim Zorn to give up his offense. He won't do that.

I don't think he needs to, however. Guys like Matt Hasselbeck have done just fine in this offense in recent years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am a believer in run first pro style offense and am not a big WCO guy. Last year the Redskins seemed to be in a ton of 2nd or 3rd and long situations. I found myself more comfortable seeing Jason in shotgun in those circumstances. It sure seemed like Jason enjoyed more success when lining up in shotgun and where most of the bigger plays occurred.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, I saw a lot of games last season of teams handing off the ball out of the shotgun gaining some good chunks of yardage as a result.

Zorn's dislike of the shotgun because he feels it's a lack of deception puzzles me. There's no rule saying you have to pass the ball when you're in that formation.

If an opponent automatically thinks you're passing out of the gun and you go and hand it off and gain some good ground, it's some pretty good deception from what I've seen.

I'm hoping that Zorn can be a bit more creative this season.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're effectively asking Jim Zorn to give up his offense. He won't do that.

Throwing on rhythm is a big factor, but it's just one component of the WCO.

Andy Reid pretty much had to give up everything he had been trained to do in order to adapt to Donovan's game. I don't know why people keep calling Philly's offense a WCO.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, I saw a lot of games last season of teams handing off the ball out of the shotgun gaining some good chunks of yardage as a result.

Zorn's dislike of the shotgun because he feels it's a lack of deception puzzles me. There's no rule saying you have to pass the ball when you're in that formation.

If an opponent automatically thinks you're passing out of the gun and you go and hand it off and gain some good ground, it's some pretty good deception from what I've seen.

I'm hoping that Zorn can be a bit more creative this season.

The Giants pwn us every year running out of the shot gun. The Patriots run a lot out of shot gun too. Its a great way to set other things up out of the formation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As are we all. Sometimes I think that, more than OL injuries, more than WR route running, and more than QB play, was the reason for our offensive ineptitude last sason.

i don't know if i can pinpoint which was the greater reason for our 2nd half demise, but i agree the playcalling was a serious issue. it just seemed like defenses figured zorn out.... much like it takes defenses a game or 2 to catch on to how to play a back up QB who just stepped in

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am a believer in run first pro style offense and am not a big WCO guy. Last year the Redskins seemed to be in a ton of 2nd or 3rd and long situations. I found myself more comfortable seeing Jason in shotgun in those circumstances. It sure seemed like Jason enjoyed more success when lining up in shotgun and where most of the bigger plays occurred.

I think the NFL wanted a passing league and made the rules to bring it about. The Redskins haven't had an NFL quality passing game since Norv left. I think that the main reason we have won just 47% of our games in the last ten years.

Stats show that most QBs do better in the shotgun, but the question is whether the passing advantage is enough to offset the deception disadvantage..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To those posters complaining about Zorn's lack of creativity -- let's be fair. How creative can you get when your offense can't execute vanilla properly?

true, but "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

i think blame from last season has to be spread, and that includes zorn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

true, but "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

That's a better definition for stupidity than insanity -- but, according to Santana, Zorn made lots of changes but none helped. The basic problem was that Jason wasn't picking up his hot reads and making defenses pay for the blitzes.

Then, of course, we had injuries to all three OTs in the second half.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To those posters complaining about Zorn's lack of creativity -- let's be fair. How creative can you get when your offense can't execute vanilla properly?

Old Fan you knew all this last year, Why do you bring this up now. Why is it a dilemma ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the NFL wanted a passing league and made the rules to bring it about.

Stats show that most QBs do better in the shotgun, but the question is whether the passing advantage is enough to offset the deception disadvantage..

Totally agree the NFL wants a passing league......So does Danny.

Certainly some deception is lost however Jason has not appeared comfortable when under center. Some of this may be attributed to last years OL and WR play. Although some changes have occurred, have they dramatically improved?

The offense starts with your QB being comfortable with himself and his surroundings. I think they'll need to give up some of the deception advantage in order to best use Jason's skills.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Old Fan you knew all this last year, Why do you bring this up now. Why is it a dilemma ?

Your question puzzles me. I'm not sure what you think I knew last year.

The dilemma for Zorn is that he has to make a difficult choice between keeping his prized rhythm timing device, and look for Jason to improve with it, or abandoning it, to keep things simpler.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a better definition for stupidity than insanity -- but, according to Santana, Zorn made lots of changes but none helped. The basic problem was that Jason wasn't picking up his hot reads and making defenses pay for the blitzes.

Then, of course, we had injuries to all three OTs in the second half.

it's a quote from Einstein.... so you dont think Zorn is free from blame? we still had talent on the team. it's the coaches job to maximize the talent, potential and effort... and Zorn definitely didnt do that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't know how good this is but,

Dodge Ball Drill

Jim Zorn’s wacky drills make their return: it’s Dodge Ball with Redskins quarterbacks.

Basically, a quarterback stands in a circle and his fellow QBs throw giant rubber balls at him. The drill tests the quarterback’s mobility in the pocket.

Colt Brennan showed some good movement in avoiding the dodge balls--only one of Jason Campbell’s tosses struck him lightly.

Undrafted rookie Chase Daniel appeared to struggle at the drill. He was hit three times, twice in the back and once on the right leg.

Tryout QB Joe Ganz did fine until Campbell’s throw nailed him on the shoulder.

Even Todd Collins got hit several times, so it wasn’t just an issue of experience.

Try as they might, the backup quarterbacks could not touch Campbell with a dodge ball. He showed great movement and even maintained proper footwork.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

it's a quote from Einstein....

Einstein never said it. that quote is only about 20 years old. I have forgotten the name of the writer credited with it. I never heard of him.

...so you dont think Zorn is free from blame? we still had talent on the team. it's the coaches job to maximize the talent, potential and effort... and Zorn definitely didnt do that.

I think Zorn did a far better job than the majority of fans give him credit for.

His style of offense, emphasizing field position, few turnovers and playing ball control helps the defense look good, but it's always going to underrated because it doesn't score lots of points and isn't as dynamic as the big play style offense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

it's a quote from Einstein....

Well, it's not really Einstein. It may be Rita Mae Brown, a writer, from 1983 but this is one of those quotes that people just cannot seem to narrow down. Certainly nothing in Ben Franklin or Einstein's work really demonstrate that they'd say something quite like that.

Also not of Chinese provenance is the 'curse' "May you live in interesting times."

And Twain did write the sentence, "lies, damned lies and statistics" but he is not the originator (nor is Disraeli) since it can be found in material predating his 1907 essay containing that gem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To those posters complaining about Zorn's lack of creativity -- let's be fair. How creative can you get when your offense can't execute vanilla properly?

I don't know how much it had to do with their inability to execute properly. Rather, I think it was more a function of having Heyersen at RT and a frequently gimpy Samuels at LT, as well as a less than healthy Thomas to boot.

Heyer's inability to run block and Jansen's inability to pass block limited Zorn's playcalling a lot. The injuries on our OL then took away another huge chunk of our offense leaving Zorn a drastically smaller playbook/field to work with. As a result, teams knew they weren't going to have to worry about the deep ball much. Even worse, Portis could be neutralized by blitzing or otherwise doing something to have Portis block instead of rush or catch out of the backfield.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with a lot of what you say Of, but this past year has thought me that we can't live by old paradigms and succeed in this league for long. The game is changing as we write this.

Like Jim Zorn, the successful WCO quarterbacks, Montana, Young and Hasslebeck are disciples of the Walsh doctrine, strong in their belief in the advantages of "throwing on rhythm" -- timing the pass routes with the QB's dropback and setup. And, like Walsh, one of the gripes WCO proponents have had against the shotgun is that the rhythm advantage is lost.

What is odd is that Kurt Warner (I use the Cards a lot as I live in Cardinal country) lived out of the shotgun and his short passing game was more effective than their running game and ate up a lot of the clock. I mean the guy could literally grind out the clock as well as a great running game.

The QB dropping back from under center is better able to read the defensive backfield alignment, but the QB in the shotgun is better able to read the rush, plus he has an extra second to react to it.

I have read, I believe it was Colt that stated that when working from the shotgun, the QB is at a disadvantage because he has to take his eyes off of the defense to take the snap. During that time the defense would shift and it was important for the QB to be able to do an instant read after he caught the ball to account for any shifts in the defense. Though it should buy time working from the gun, I believe Colt found that the time bought from the gun was not enough for a severely over-matched Oline (We all know what Sugar Bowl that would be).

It should not take three years for a QB to learn an NFL offense. I see this as an obvious flaw. For this reason, I believe Jim Zorn will have to give up on his preference to have his QB throwing on rhythm.

I hope this will never be the case. As I stated above, though Kurt completed many of his passes, he was also the most hit QB after the pass of last year. That being said, it was obvious that the rush was getting to him, but only because of his quick reads, quick release, and because of his timing with his receivers, was Kurt able to be successful in 2008. Rhythm and timing is critical in any passing scheme and it is something I would like to see from who ever our starting QB will be this year.

Jason Campbell is having problems making the quick decisions needed to run this offense effectively. I think Jim Zorn will have to adapt to Jason's game by using more shotgun (at six-five with long arms, he could set up six yards back and it would be very difficult for a center, even intentionally, to snap the ball over his head). With a one-step drop, Jason would be setting up seven yards behind the LOS and better able to see the rush.

Quick decision making is a key factor for any QB passing against today's pressure defenses, but all QBs, regardless of how quick they are, will fare better with an extra second to react.

Let's see how well Jim adapts.

If Jason is the starting QB, lets hope that he is able to adjust accordingly and maximize the talent that surrounds him. The thing I like about working from under the center, we can maximize the run and go play action. Or we can go straight out pass and still keep the defense guessing. Again, that would be prevalent that the offense is hitting on all cylinders so the defense cannot key-up on any one aspect of the offensive threats.

Does Jason prefer to work from under center, or does he prefer working from the shotgun? Which ever he prefers, should be the majority he works from.

Great post by the way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know how much it had to do with their inability to execute properly. Rather, I think it was more a function of having Heyersen at RT and a frequently gimpy Samuels at LT, as well as a less than healthy Thomas to boot.

Heyer's inability to run block and Jansen's inability to pass block limited Zorn's playcalling a lot. The injuries on our OL then took away another huge chunk of our offense leaving Zorn a drastically smaller playbook/field to work with. As a result, teams knew they weren't going to have to worry about the deep ball much. Even worse, Portis could be neutralized by blitzing or otherwise doing something to have Portis block instead of rush or catch out of the backfield.

You know, we have heard rumblings about RT for a while, but was Jason hit from the blindside more, or did the pressure from the right force him out of the pocket? Because of his drop, Jason can clearly see and gauge the pressure from the right side, it is traditionally the left side (blind side) that requires the more talented tackle and guard (I believe). Maybe KDawg or someone can clarify.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting post. Here's an article that talks about the shotgun and its history, here's some blog comments in response that gets into Shanahan and Holmgren relating to the WCO and the shotgun.

http://smartfootball.blogspot.com/2007/12/shotgun-gun-and-shotgun-spread-offense.html

The shotgun met the West Coast Offense when two great players were given the formation in their pro careers.

John Elway had the shotgun and spread as his main scheme with Dan Reeves. He made Super Bowl appearances and Championship appearances. His team lacked other items and could not get over the hump, so coming coaching changes along with personnel led to the integration of his schemes.

Mike Shanahan came back after a several years with the West Coast Offense that his coaching tree made famous with the San Francisco 49ers.

He had some things already established that he could build on as an assistant(quarterback coach) to Denver during some Elway years. Elway had amazing stats and efficiency with the shotgun, and playoff wins. This could be used to develop the timed routes of the WCO Shanahan had with his Niners experience as OC for three seasons. All of the timing and sets could be implemented with his WCO items and made into deeper reads and progressions, Elway's arm and mobility helped that even more.

The scripted offense, using deeper sets and the same timing urgency famous for the WCO, made his team the best first quarter scorer in its heyday.

His running game is quite celebrated, using the cut block to slow backside pursuit so additional lanes develop to give a single set back multiple keys.

Without a lead block to key teams can or may over pursue, the line technique prevents the penetration that a one back set should be susceptible to, as linemen hesitate when knee level blocks are used.

The zone set makes it a bit easier to sell some play action, a back can hit the hole quicker and the short set for those three step routes works right with it.

That comes from under center.

Just about the time you'd expect a defense to feel this kind of tactic the shotgun gets used. Now the QB can get the snap and set up or back on three counts and still hit the timed route.

Then DB who watches the backfield too much can get sold the slant-go. They're used to slants and quick outs, hooks to move the chains that have room to work from the big arm Elway could display.

The foe gets caught looking in, the passer will take it over from there.

From the shotgun run a back can still run zone reads in similar ways. Talented halfbacks can use the jump step to reset their feet in combination with an explosive cross step. The run and shoot Oilers and K Gun Bills used that best. The deeper set from snap sells the screen much easier.

A deeper handoff gives the angle to allow skill adjustment, provided the ball gets secured instantly. It develops like a draw play, and causes defensive hesitation.

The other coach who used the shotgun to add with what the WCO does is Mike Holmgren. Like Shanahan, he believed in a big running game, using explosive Dorsey Levens when his team was at its peak output in terms of balance.

His quarterback Bret Favre is on his way to the Hall of Fame, a gifted and gritty athlete. Put a wideout on his team, they can become a name player or develop signature moves because of Favre's arm, some quick completions, and the protection key with deeper shotgun sets for accurate timed routes.

Original WCO routes seemed to get out of breaks quicker, going the three to five yard break, passes could then stay in the air less time and get to the target's hands fast so yards after catch could win the game.

With the strong armed QB using the shotgun, the timed route could get a bit deeper and this meant that spacing could work to greater advantage. Isolation routes to one side could be used and the front side could still be a variety of crossing routes and clearouts.

The best item to use for helping pre snap reads today is the hand signal for a snap. The QB needs to be really demonstrative on two and three signal fakes to try and determine what the rotation could do. Before and after motion could only help that as well out of some sets, preferably no huddle or scripted starts where there' time to do it.

So three and five step sets still work for timing from the shotgun. The release point is different.

I've seen Favre use a seven step set once off the shotgun, it resulted in an incompletion but arguably could of had an interference flag thrown. He used about 60 yards of air on the pass as well. His WR couldn't hold on, and he was hit while throwing by a DB who was spying the back.

The line was looking for big guys who could take a QB out to block and the back staying in just missed the guy or assumed the ball was gone. Sherman was coach at the time. Had the back made his block Favre could have perhaps put even more on the ball to get it there, to lead the man more, though no waiting on the ball was involved.

It was deemed too risky, I've not seen it sued since. Only a few arms could even make such an item usable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...