At the current time of it's conception Bill Walsh was the OC for the 1969 Bengals. His base offense was a carbon copy of Oakland's Al Davis. Bill Walsh had a quarterback by the name of Greg Cook, who Walsh went on later to say couldv'e been remembered or noted as the greatest quarterback of all-time. In this particular year of WCO's conception Cook tore his rotator cuff early in the season after starting 3-0, and Walsh was stuck with a guy named Virgil Carter. Carter was no Cook, but he was mobile, accurate, and intelligent.
The injury to Cook forced Walsh to change his offense to be more fitting to Carter's abilities. Walsh changed his offense from a vertical happy offense to what he called a "nickel and dime offense." It was a ball control pass offense that utilized backs and tight ends as receivers. This ball control passing attack allowed Walsh to control the pace and time of possession without being forced to run the ball. Also this willingness to throw short passes created a big unknown for defenses on short yardage downs.
Walsh's offense also introduced the world to extensive use of motions and shifts to balance out a defense and give an advantage to the offense.
Walsh sometimes used more than three receivers but he was more focused on quarterback protection.
Walsh created this offense to withstand a deficiency at quarterback. So imagine a good quarterback running an offense that was built for someone incapable. When I think of this creation I think of the spread offense. The spread offense was created for a team with no talent to spread out a superior defense. So imagine a spread offense with talent. What Walsh initially built to be a talent fix ended up being a top of the line offensive system.
Nickel and dime sounds so cheap and yet it seems to be a great way to invest. Imagine how much money is spent on buying a lottery ticket. Now imagine picking up every penny to quarter you see. The percentages that you walk away with more than john doe who buys a lottery ticket every day is pretty high. Playing the lottery could be compared to a pass happy vertical offense. The WCO takes everything it's given and soon as you take away the shortest route the next route is open.
Imagine yourself being a boxer in the ring always looking for the knockout punch. I see a lot of wasted energy that would lead to openings to be knocked out by the opponent with that method. But if you systematically attack your opponent exposing every weakness and opening then he will eventually face defeat from a solid core shot or will let down his guard to be knocked out. While the whole time staying systematic you protected yourself and controlled the pace of the fight. That is the Nickel and Dime offense.
Both Martz and Walsh have been known to use a timing pass game, but I think timing is the wrong word when referring to Walsh. Walsh's offense is more about rhythm of routes. Martz's offense relied on throwing the ball to a certain spot with an assumption that the receiver will be open. Sounds like Russian roulette to me. I refer to Walsh's system being about rhythm because you throw to an open receiver when they are open and the rhythm of the routes will lead to another one being open if one is covered.
I've read how the ZBS and WCO are different, but after some research I think it's obvious that there is no comparison. The WCO is > than the ZBS. The WCO uses the ZBS along with some additional run blocking schemes.
I'm interested to see what formations Trestman utilizes. The WCO has evolved because defenses have gotten better. There are multiple coaches who utilize the west coast offense in more of a spread and empty formation look. One of the multiple things Trestman and Walsh have in common is their priority for wanting to protect the quarterback. Now of course all coaches would like to protect their quarterback, but some of their formations used aren't indicative of that.
Trestman has been ridiculed for his coaching in the CFL but that has given him an edge that no other WCO coach in the league has had. The rule differences of the CFL have enabled him to perfect his understanding and creativity within the WCO.
The media still questions whether Trestman and Cutler will get along but I think they will have one of the better quarterback-head coach relationships in the league. If there is any friction between them it will come out during training camp. I believe Trestman's need for being hip to hip with his quarterbacks allow him to live vicariously through them.
We keep hearing about Trestman's attention to detail and his ability to game plan for his opponent on a week to week basis but imagine something even better. Imagine a man who pays more detail to movement and technique then an actual so-called playbook. Imagine a man who puts more focus on his receiver running a specific route and teaching them how not to let anyone keep them from running that route rather than learning a playbook. Trestman's focus is about route running and understanding his terminology.
Allouettes quarterback Cavillo says It was the little details that were so important to the teams success.
Calvillo was impressed with Trestman's ability to prepare for different opponents from week-to-week, constantly tweaking and tinkering with the game plan.
Calvillo said Trestman was excellent at adapting. Says he made sure they were ready for every week.
"He's always changing things up. I had to study so much week-in and week-out because he wants to challenge you and he wants to make sure the defense doesn't get comfortable with what we're doing. There are always a bunch of new plays going in week-in and week-out simply because he doesn't want to be this vanilla offense."
"He's a very intelligent guy. He never acts on impulse. Everything he does is all thought out, and that's always been very impressive to me.
"We've got to take care of that precious football with each and every man that has the opportunity to touch it. We've got to play smart, multi-dimensional football that's going to attack the field like all the best teams in this league, and we've got to be tough and physical with our mindset whether it's run or pass."
"The only object of the offense at the end of the day is to score touchdowns."If we do it with 12 runs in a row or 12 passes in a row, nobody is going to care."
"We're going to get the ball in the end zone and try to defeat the team that we're playing on a play-by-play basis. And I'm not speaking for myself; I would be speaking for any coach in our league. That is what we try to do. We're not going to label ourselves."
"We want to be capable of being a very good running football team and a very good passing team so we have those tools on a play-by-play basis to do one or the other and have success."
"It's a meticulous process."
"The fundamentals and techniques are the most important thing to help our team win. The quarterback has a big job. He has to protect the ball. He has to live for the next play. He does it a number of different ways; at the snap, in the running game, in the confines of the pocket, locating the ball and outside the pocket."
"We want to make sure we can attack the field sideline-to-sideline, and we'll try to do that with our offense to move the ball around."
Food For Thought:
Imagine a man who creates a new playbook every single week.
Yes, Bill Walsh developed the West Coast system, but even Walsh himself said that Trestman is a mastermind.