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Friday, August 12, 2005

Controlling the Ball With the Pass - Bill Walsh

Old article from 1979 but still a good one. From the Unofficial Westcoast Offense Site:

Emphasis below is mine--

Controlling the Ball With the Pass
BILL WALSH
former San Francisco 49ers and Stanford Cardinal


My philosophy has been to control the ball with the forward pass. To do that we have to have versatility-versatility in the action and types of passes thrown by the quarterback.

Dropback Passes

We like the dropback pass. We use a three-step drop pattern, but more often we will use a five-step drop pattern of timed patterns down the field. From there we go to a seven-step drop. When our quarterback takes a seven-step drop, he's allowing the receivers time to maneuver down the field. Therefore, we will use a three-step drop pattern when we are throwing a quickout or hitch or slant which, by and large, the defense is allowing you to complete by their alignment or by their coverage.

The five-step drop pattern for the quarterback calls for a disciplined pattern by the receiver. He runs that pattern the same way every time. He doesn't maneuver to beat the defensive back.

Too often in college football, either the quarterback is standing there waiting for the receiver, or the receiver has broken before the quarterback can throw the ball. These are the biggest flaws you will see in the forward pass. Now when the receiver breaks before the ball can be thrown, the defensive back can adjust to the receiver. Any time the quarterback holds the ball waiting for the receiver to break, the defensive back sees it and breaks on the receiver. So the time pattern is vital.

Play-Action Passes

You can't just dropback pass. You have to be able to keep the defense from zeroing in on your approach. That's why the play pass is vital. By and large, the play-action pass will score the touchdown. The dropback pass will control the ball.

For play-action passing, we have certain blocking fundamentals that we use. We will show different backfield actions with basically the same offensive line blocking. We will go to the play pass as often as we can, especially as we get to the opponent's 25-yard line.

...

In Scoring Territory

I have seen many teams march the ball beautifully, but right around the 15-yard line, they are already warming up their placekicker, because right at that point defenses change, the field they can operate in changes, and suddenly their basic offense goes all to pieces.

My contention is that if we are on their 25, we're going for the end zone. Failing at that, we will kick a field goal. In an evenly matched game, I don't want to try to take the ball from their 25 to the goal line by trying to smash it through people, because three out of four times, you won't make it. Unless you are superior. Of course, if you are vastly superior it makes very little difference how you do it.

Why? First, every defensive coach in the country is going to his blitzes about right there. The pass coverage, by and large, will be man-to-man coverage. We know that if they don't blitz one down, they're going to blitz the next down. Automatically. They'll seldom blitz twice in a row but they'll blitz every other down. If we go a series where there haven't been blitzes on the first two downs, here comes the safety blitz on the third down. So we are looking, at that point, to get into the end zone.

By the style of our football, we'll have somebody to get the ball to a little bit late-just as an outlet to get 4 or 5 yards, to try to keep it. But from the 25 to the 10, we're going for the end zone.

...

Short Yardage

We have standard passes to throw against a goalline defense. Too often people try to go in there and butt heads with good linebackers on the goal line. Too often they don't make it.

If we get inside that 5-yard line, half the time we are going to throw the ball. Now, if you're marching through somebody, you can just close your eyes and hand the ball off But when it's very competitive, that goal-line pass is vital. So we have a series of those. We never call them anywhere else on the field.

When we are around their 35-yard line in a short-yardage situation, if we don't see somebody standing deep down the middle, we're probably going to go for the six points.

To make it on third-and-1 we will often throw to a back out of the backfield. Third-and-3 is the toughest of all to make. We have a certain list of runs and a certain list of passes. When we have a third-and-3, we don't grope. We go to it.

1 comment:

Ted C is Me said...

Chris: That article had a huge influence in shaping my concept of the passing game. The other big early influence was Homer Rice (you know, the OTHER Homer) and his books on "air option football" -- still classics.

After that, it was Mouse Davis, Andy Coverdale -- in other words, straight downhill.

;)