Andy Reid’s “West Coast Offense”


The popular term “West Coast Offense” (WCO) is more of a philosophy and an approach to the game than it is a set of plays or formations. Paul Brown, founder of the Cincinnati Bengals, and legendary coach Bill Walsh were the originator of this playbook.The Cincinnati Bengals entered the NFL in 1970 as a result of the AFL-NFL merger, and were placed in the newly formed American Football Conference alongside the Browns. A career-ending injury to the starting quarterback before the 1970 season forced the Bengals to rely on Virgil Carter, an emergency backup who could make accurate short passes but could not heave the ball. So Brown and Walsh went to work designing an offense around Carter’s limitations, a scheme that was the genesis of the West Coast offense Walsh later used to great effect when he became coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Andy Reid is one of many successful coaches to come from the Bill Walsh coaching tree.



Traditional offensive thinking argues that a team must establish its running game first, which will draw the defense in and open up vertical passing lanes downfield.

Andy Reids version of West Coast Offense (WCO) differs from traditional offense by emphasizing a short, horizontal passing attack to help stretch out the defense, thus opening up options for longer running plays and longer passes that can achieve greater gains. The west coast offense features precisely run pass patterns by the receivers that make up about 65% to 80% of the offensive scheme. With the defense stretched out, the offense is then free to focus the remaining plays on longer throws of more than 14 yards and mid to long yard rushes.

NFL offenses are surprisingly bland. Not entirely, but as a rule of thumb, 80% of what NFL teams do on offense is extremely straightforward to the point. The stories of Andy Reid getting only 45 minutes of sleep a night preparing for games, and all the film study, 500 page NFL playbooks, and lengthy game plans make up the other 20%.

Chiefs fans should get prepared for a total shift in offensive philosophy.

What to expect from key players

  • It seems more than likely that Reid will clean out the Chiefs current quarterback position of Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi, none of whom fit into Reid’s version of the WCO.
  • Jamaal Charles’ role is likely to be affected the most under Reid. Charles ran the ball 285 times last season with Crennel as coach but there’s virtually no chance Charles will run the ball that many times again in a season under Reid. Instead, Charles likely will become a bigger threat out of the backfield as a receiver. The most passes Charles has caught in a season is 45. That number may double in Reid’s offense.
  • Dexter McCluster may also see his role change under Reid, who may take McCluster out of the slot and insert him more in the backfield. Reid was actually targeting McCluster in the 2010 draft when he was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • The West Coast offense is also very tight end-friendly, so we should see Tony Moeaki involved a lot more along with Kevin Boss.
  • Dwayne Bowe who is headed for free-agency fits the mold for receivers that Reid likes – Big and Physical.  Bowe has a tendency to drop easy passes and play soft. We will see if Reid wants to keep Bowe or look for another no.1 receiver in free-agency.
  • If they can’t teach Jon Baldwin to beat the press this offseason than his future with the Chiefs doesn’t look good. Baldwin would be 10x better if he just knew how to beat the press and stand up straight when he gets bumped.
  • I fully expect Reid to re-sign Brandon Albert to a long term deal this off-season. Reid places a lot of emphasis on his O-line to protect his QB’s.


Andy Reids success

Despite the last couple years, the Eagles still have the sixth-best record in the NFL since Andy Reid took over in 1999 along with five conference championships. Here is a comparison between the Chiefs and Eagles from 1999-2012. The Chiefs rank 24th of 32 teams in that same time frame.


NFL RECORDS: 1999-2012 average points scored (PF), average points allowed (PA), conference title game appearances (CTG) and Super Bowl wins (SBW)

 Team     W      L     T  Pct.  PF  PA CTG  SBW
 Eagles  130    90    1  .590  23.1  19.4    5    0
 Chiefs    98  123    0  .443  21.8  22.8    0    0


The Eagles reached the playoffs nine times in a span of 10 years. With all the wins and all the stats, the one thing that excites me the most about Andy Reid is his red zone offense. The guy just knows how to finish drives.  He coached a top tier team in red zone efficiency for most of his time in Philadelphia. The Chiefs have been among the leagues worst in that department for years.


Although it was apparent that a change needed to take place with the Philadelphia Eagles, I believe they made a big mistake in letting Andy Reid go. They may very-well have to watch him win a Super Bowl with another team after spending nearly 14 years in Philadelphia. I am perfectly ok with that. Eagle tears are delicious.


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I can’t wait to see the transition this franchise is about to go through. It’s time to bring back the Arrowhead magic!





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