Chiefs Mid-West Coast Offense

“The Mid-West Coast Offense.”

Sounds revolutionary doesn’t it? Well, that’s as good a name as any for what Chiefs fans will be witnessing this fall at Arrowhead Stadium.

Mix a little Pistol.

Spread a little Spread.

Swing a little West Coast and presto chang-o: the Mid-West Coast Offense

So, let’s take a look at what we might be expecting to see when this new “Mid-West Coast Offense” takes to the Arrowhead turf in 2013.

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The West Coast offense (WCO) is essentially a ball control offense using short, high-percentage timing routes initially and then down the field routes as the game unfolds.

Everyone on the offense who is not a lineman is a potential receiver and the objective is to take advantage of mismatches whenever possible: wide receivers on linebackers or tight ends on cornerbacks for example. As the game proceeds the defensive backfield draws closer to the line of scrimmage and the receivers gain confidence from the high rate of completion and then the running game and longer passes open the field up for big gains.

Another goal of the West Coast offense is to stretch the field horizontally, meaning, across the field. This opens up running lanes and also draws the defensive backfield closer to the line of scrimmage as the game progresses eventually tempting them to make foolish mistakes that a good QB play caller can take advantage of.

The WCO is definitely a “pass-to-set-up-the-run” offensive scheme. By no means does the WCO abandon the run. In fact, good WCOs run the ball effectively and running backs in the WCO enjoy big numbers when the offense is executed in the correct manner.

Jamaal Charles recently mentioned the possibility of a 2,000 yard season this year. If Charles stays healthy you can bet that he’ll get 2,000 from the line of scrimmage because the running back is as much of a receiver as any receiver in the WCO.

If you want to connect the dots in terms of how the WCO came down through the ages… Bill Walsh worked for Paul Brown and inherited much of what became his own West Coast offense in San Francisco in the 1980s, from Brown in the 1970s. It’s been said that Brown’s influence upon Walsh was great enough that it should have more aptly been named, “The Ohio River Offense.” Mike Holmgren was on the Bill Walsh staff and he used his own variation to help his Favre led Packers to a win over the N.E. Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI in January of 1997. Andy Reid was on the Packers’ staff from 1992 to 1998 before gaining his HC position with the Eagles in 1999. Fourteen years later, vuala, Andy Reid brings his own synthesized WCO to the Mid-West, which equals = MWCO.

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The Spread offense is just what it sounds like, an offense meant to spread the defense out. It is typically runs out of the shotgun formation with the QB six yards deep and if a RB is in the backfield with him, he’s to one side or the other. The Spread can be run or pass oriented but it’s purpose is to be difficult to defend. It works best when it is a fast pace, no-huddle scheme that catches defenses without their best players on the field and takes advantage. A key is if the players in the Spread offense can line up and get a play called before the defense can substitute players then mismatches can be forced on an unsuspecting defense which increases the Spreads chances of success.

Another advantage of the Spread is that it gives the QB time to read the defense. As the defense experiences a decreased ability to make substitutions, a QB can call plays at the line that will end in mismatches. This can be especially critical when the offense has driven down inside the red zone or even closer, inside of the five yard line.

The success of the Spread is dependent upon the offensive unit as a whole being able to move quickly to the the line of scrimmage following the previous play. That discipline, or lack thereof, is usually immediately prevalent when an offense goes to run quick plays for the first time at the goal line. If an offense is consistently successful running the Spread at the goal line it can force the defense to call timeouts which wouldn’t normally be called.

This off season, Jamaal Charles has stated that Andy Reid’s new offense is designed to place players in space against the defense and that precisely describes what the Spread offense is supposed to do. That way, star players can make their star moves.

From what several Chiefs players have said about the off season work in OTAs, everyone is calling it a fast paced, game-speed workout. The advantages are obvious for the Chiefs but, it will take discipline and a high level of execution.

The Spread can also incorporate a set of plays that take advantage of a quarterback’s athleticism. If a QB can get outside and run the ball infrequently then it gives the defense another thing they have to worry about and defend. Consequently, most defenses playing against the Spread will assign players called “spies” whose assignment is specifically to stop the QB from getting down field with their legs.

There are so many ways a good Spread offense can defeat an unsuspecting defense that when the Chiefs incorporate a set of Spread plays, it should give defenses another “look” to be worried about and planned for.

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The Pistol offense is a formation in which the QB lines up three yards behind center and then the RB three yards behind him. This lets the QB read the defense plus it allows the RB to run downhill, to one side or the other, towards the line of scrimmage, instead of sideways first as in the Spread. Listen to the real master designer of the Pistol, Chris Ault, who shared this with FootballScoop,

Everybody thinks the pistol is just a read, but the pistol is a formation, and from that formation, if you’re a power offense, you can run the power. If you’re a counter offense, you can run the counter. It’s not just a read offense. I think the read offers another dimension to it, but it’s really a versatile formation.

In the interview, Ault said he’s been watching the Washington Redskins incorporate the Pistol with Robert Griffin III at the helm as they won the NFC East in 2012. He stated,

The things…  that I saw the Redskins do, was throw the ball with play-action out of the pistol. I thought the play-action passing really helped with the read itself out of the pistol. I recognized most of it, and I’m sure they changed it to match their personnel, but it was fun to see the skeleton, anyway.

In an interview with Mercury News, Ault said the Chip Kelly Oregon offense was different because,

Chip and those guys, they have the back offset. He’s not behind the quarterback. So their first base play is an outside zone play, a sweep-type action. Whereas our first base play is an inside zone and that sets up the read and the play-action pass off it. Really two different offenses….

And finally Ault reveals,

I think by running the read play, it’s in your offensive system and you’re going to run it five times, nine times a game, it’s one more thing you’ve got to defend. And then when you throw the play-action pass off it, that’s another thing. So it’s not just one dimension that you’ve got to look at, it’s a couple of things.

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Obviously, these are the conversations Ault is having with Andy Reid and OC Doug Pederson too. Some have suggested that the Chiefs have hired Ault as a consultant to help the defense prepare for the Pistol. Do you think Ault would want to go to a pro team just to play decoy?

Now, play a little mind game that I like to play called, “Can You Imagine?”

  • Can you imagine… the Chiefs lining up in a three-tight end set and then running JC behind that mob?

  • Can you imagine… the Chiefs lining up Devon Wylie in one slot (4.30- 40) and Dexter McCluster in the other slot (4.40- 40) and Donnie Avery outside (4.32- 40) and JC lined up at RB (4.32- 40)… and then running all receivers on a go route the but handing the ball to JC on a delayed draw?

  • Can you imagine… the Chiefs flooding the weak side of the field with three out of four receivers and then running a sweep with JC to the strong side?

Can you tell that I’m excited to see how the Chiefs use their best offensive weapon this year, Jamaal Charles?

The imagination runs even wilder when you mix in a half dozen sets of Spread, Pistol and possibly a couple Wildcat plays. It’s going to be a difficult offense for defenses to figure out.

You can be sure that the 2013 version of the Kansas City Chiefs Mid-West Coast offense is going to be one monstrous, multidimensional, unidentifiable, conglomerate fun-fest for K.C. fans to watch… and that should scare the daylights out of many a Defensive Coordinator.

How about it Addicts… what do you imagine the Kansas City Chiefs 2013 Mid-West Coast offense  will be like?

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  • Altarium

    My biggest concern, is that this new offense is going to be foreign to so many players, that we won’t be as successful as we could be. I’m not saying we should go back to Dabolls playbook (PLEASE GOD NO), we need something agressive. I’m just wondering what the adjustment time frame will look like, and who may be unable to adjust to this diverse offense.

    • elly violette

      I see what you mean. But, I think they will start out with a West Coast offense LIGHT… and then add more plays as the seasons goes by and as the players pick up on it more.

      • ladner morse

        Exactly. However, I don’t think fans will get to see much of the quirks that the Pistol and the Spread will offer during the preseason. So, don’t be disappointed if in preseason games that the offense looks a little boring.

    • ladner morse

      I’m guessing that the staff has a set number of plays picked out for game one and they are running those plays into the ground repeatedly… at top end speed. It will probably be more of a concern in game two against the Cowboys because they’ll have less time to practice all the plays necessary for that game. Then again… they may be running those plays into the ground this summer too.

  • elly violette

    I imagine the Chiefs scoring more than 40 points in their opening game against the Jaguars and Jamaal Chales having more than 250 yards running and passing togehter.

    • ladner morse

      Do you have any specific types of plays that you imagine the Chiefs will run to score all those points?

      • elly violette

        They say Jamaal Chalres will be thrown the ball more this year so I can’t wait to see the ball thrown to him out in the backfield and he has only one or two defenders to beat to make a long TD. That is what I am imagining the west coast offense will look like.

    • Calchiefsfan

      Now all we need to do is hold MJD in check and make Blaine Gabbert try and beat us. Good luck with that!

      • Calchiefsfan

        Meaning good luck to Blaine Gabbert. Reread that and thought I should clarify, lol.

  • steve james

    Man keep going tell me more! Sounds great. I hope they pick it up fast.

    • elly violette

      It’s getting exciting right? Can you beleive that camp is only 7 days away now?

  • ArrowFan

    Touchdown Kan-sas City.

    • elly violette

      TOCUHDOWN FIELD GOAL SAFTEY AND PICK SIX. I can’t wait to see the Chiefs score in every way possible this year!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Stacy D. Smith

    It’s going to take time to get the offense working at optimal levels. I expect to see lots of Jamaal early and plenty of play-action.

    • ladner morse

      I think it will probably take a year for the key contributors on offense to pick the whole thing up. Until then it will be scaled down considerably.

  • elly violette

    So is Chris Ault on the staff of the Chiefs now?

    • ladner morse

      He is listed as a consultant so I’d guess he’ll be there through training camp and perhaps the first month of the season but I doubt he’ll be around all year.

  • Jim Harper

    I don’t believe it will take the Chiefs as long as everyone thinks to pick up the offense. Intelligence ranked high in their player evaluations. That was especially true in going after Alex Smith, and his ability to pick things up quickly has been apparent so far. I think this team is hitting on all cylinders before their bye week. One thing is certain. They are going to be a boatload of fun to watch.

    • ladner morse

      Unless you’re a rookie coming in from a west coast or spread offense… which is fairly likely these days, then you’re going to have problems with the complexity of the language in the West Coast offense playbook. Play calls are broken into pieces. One part tells the formation, another part the blocking assignments and line calls, receiver route trees and passing (or run) direction priorities, and the count. Fortunately… as you’ve mentioned… this is not a squad of dumb bunnies.

    • Calchiefsfan

      I think you’re right Jim. With the crummy defenses we face in the first 6 weeks I’m hoping our offense will have a faster learning curve. We need to be ready for Houston!

    • Joe Myers

      Yeah I agree jim . You can tell by how excited they are to learn the system . And how hard thier working I think that’s why everyone one is excited . I think R&D want a superbowl this year !!!

  • Calchiefsfan

    I think we should just call it the Midwest Offense, (MWO), lol. The two things that get me optimistic about this offense is Smith’s intelligence and the fact that the first 6 teams we face have bad defenses. This should our guys time to get in sync with all the new stuff. I would say next year is when we are really going to see things open up but it will definitely be a huge improvement this year over what we saw last year.

    • ladner morse

      The Chiefs have to hit the sweet spot and to do that they must do two things this year. One- win enough games so that they don’t scrap the OC and the WCO playbook. Two- don’t win so many games that some other team wants to come along and hire all the Chiefs offensive coaching personnel.

      • Calchiefsfan

        Yes that would suck if everyone got snatched up by other teams though I think Reid is the main catalyst to the success of this offense.

    • jim

      I agree with you CCF, but I have faith that AR can get the team up to speed ASAP, I can’t wait to see the new Chiefs in action, GEAUX CHIEFS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • KcNdaRock

    These players are pros as in professionals. I agree with some of the other comments. If there not hitting on all cylinders by week 6 playoffs hopes are diminishing. I’m a huge fan through every losing season. These guys are paid to do a job and know that job I think we will all be surprised how fast they master it. Screw this next year crap lets see some results this year!!
    Lets bring arrowhead back to life


    • ladner morse

      Great post Rock!
      Go Chiefs!

  • Chris Tarrants

    Ok think about this alignment for one second, 2 TE 1WR with Charles on the weak side with Dexter on the strong side lined up next to Smith in the shotgun! Talk about scary for defenses and Mitch Would probably lose his voice as he screams TOUCHDOWN Kaaaansaaascity! God I can’t wait for this season to start

    • ladner morse

      I hope to hear Mitch yelling that a half dozen times a game!

  • Danny W

    I don’t think offense will be the thorn in the side anymore around KC but we’re gonna need John Baldwin to step up along with Donnie Avery. Were gonna have to find ways to get to the quarterback on defense or it’s gonna probably be like it was when Vermeil was around.

    • ladner morse

      This D like a Vermeil D? With DJ, Houston, Berry and Flowers… I can’t even conceive of it being that bad. I can’t even remember one player from Vermeil’s defenses and I’m pretty sure there were no Pro Bowlers.

  • jimfromkcj

    Lad, I have a suggestion, go to your search engine and type in Don Coryell and then read the wickipedia article. Most of the guys you mention who coached the West coach trace their lineage back to Don Coryell and his air Coryell offence. A version we got to watch in the Vermiel days. If that is what we have to look forward to, we are in for some exciting football.

  • john harlow

    Here awhileThe thing is the chiefs are not going to run a total all the time pistol , west coast, or conventional offense but at times we will run these at times. The question is who is going to be in these formations it is not the formations that make the team but the personal in these formations. Yes we have some major questions as far as the personal goes with any team that has a new coach he will try to get his type of players we brought in57 new playerswhich means that some of last years team may not be there this year. I think it is for the best, now I don’t think that the starters are in jeopardy but the resurves very much could be. All coach Reid wants to do is to make the best possib team if that means getting rid of a player that has been there awhile. Now not only players and philisophy on offense but defense will be a lot different. And as always
    Go Chiefs