Definition of West Coast Offense

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What does the term "West Coast Offense" mean? What is meant by the term "West Coast Offense"?

The "West Coast Offense" was popularized by former Cincinnati Bengals QB coach and San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh.

What is the West Coast Offense when it comes to American football.  How is it done?  The King explains.  In photo:  Joe Montana, playing for the San Francisco 49ers.  About to send the ball away.While the QB coach for the Bengals, Walsh was tasked with devising an offense that would be suitable for QB Virgil Carter, who had a weak but accurate arm.

The "West Coast Offense" utilizes short, horizontal passes of 10-15 yards in order to "stretch" out the defense.

This would allow an accurate QB like Virgil Carter to have a high completion percentage, as most of his throws would be high-percentage tosses.

In order to cover these short, precise throws, the defense would have to "stretch out" on the field, which would open up the offense to the occasional long run or shot down the field.

The "West Coast Offense" makes ample use of running backs and tight ends in the passing attack, as these players will run routes that are low in air yards, which is a key feature of the West Coast Offense.

The West Coach Offense really rocketed into the spotlight during the 1980s, when Joe Montana led the team to multiple Super Bowls using Coach Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense.


Many members of Bill Walsh's "coaching tree" also implemented the West Coast Offense, including Mike Holmgren and Jon Gruden.