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?