Has The West Coast Philosophy Lost Its Novelty?

Doug DonofrioCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2009

McNabb and Eagles Come Up Short Again: Photo above.

Ah, the West Coast Offense, the most prolific offensive philosophy in football, is now dying a slow death across the National Football League.

I can remember as a young boy watching the 1981 San Francisco 49ers and the vaunted West Coast offense, watching them shred opposing defenses like a ravenous lion looking for its last meal.

Yes, that time and that era witnessed a change never before seen: five world championships in 14 years.

Through the 80's and 90's we have seen the most success in the NFL via the West Coast offense with teams such as San Francisco, Green Bay, Denver, and Tampa Bay winning Super Bowls.

In fact, from 1981 through 2002, West Coast offenses produced nine Super Bowl champions in 21 years. That is an astounding statistic and more importantly those teams mentioned above—including Philadelphia and Andy Reid—have had extremely high winning percentages to boot.

Yards after the catch (or YAC) was the focus for NFL defenses to master; tight ends who could stretch the seams, fullbacks, H-Backs, and running backs who could not only slash for 1,000 yards but who could catch 70-90 balls for 700-800 yards.

NFL defenses were spinning like tops trying to play chess with some of the brightest offensive minds in the game such as Walsh, Seifert, Holmgren, Shanahan, Gruden, and Reid.

What has happened to the West Coast offense?

I believe it is now dying a slow death. No NFL team who has had a West Coast philosophy has won the Super Bowl since 2002 and each of those teams has either fired their coaches or have had to reconstruct their philosophies.

Defensive coordinators have finally figured the scheme out and now have the right match in personnel to contend with it.

The appropriate match was, and is, speed. NFL defenses have tremendously increased their team speed in areas all over the field from bigger, faster corners to natural cover safeties, to smaller speedier cover linebackers, to smallish ends and tackles.

The West Coast offense is now obsolete—much like the color television tube in our homes. Widescreens, high definition, and plasmas are now the standard. Teams like New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and the Giants are now back to smash mouth football.

What does it all mean? It means times have changed for the once brilliant offensive geniuses; NFL defenses have caught up and made their move.

Check and Checkmate.