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Football 101: The West Coast Offense

Diagrammed Packer's Plays

By Mark Lawrence

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Weak Right JAZZ Fake 96 Power Keep Left FB Slide

One of the Packers play action passes. The Packers have a couple different kinds of play action: Play Pass blocked like a run, feels like a run and we throw deep; Play action which is off of sprint draw protection which is more of a protection type thing and not as aggressive as a play pass; and Key Passes which attack the perimeter and is off of a run - itís when Brett is outside the pocket.

    S                      SS
CB          W     M              CB
        E   T   T     E   B
WR        O  O  O  O  O  TE
               Q                 FL


This is a counter play to a power run (96 Power) that is one of the Packerís premier plays - they want the D to think they're running that power play. Itís run from the base personnel set. The FB goes in motion to the right (~~~ = "jazz motion"), the TE blocks the E, The RT helps with the E, the RG blocks the T closest to him, the C blocks the other T and the LG pulls (to the right) and the LT blocks the T with the C. The weak side E is not blocked.

As the LG pulls he makes sure M, the middle linebacker, doesn't disrupt the play by blitzing. The FB makes it look like heís going to go after B, the strong side linebacker, as he does on the power play and then slides back to the left beyond where the weak side E is lined up on the Oís left. As the LG pulls to the right, W, the weak side linebacker usually follows him. The RB runs toward B and Brett fakes the hand off to him and rolls to the left naked. Brett reads E.

The TE runs an "over route" - he runs a crossing pattern to the left behind where W and M are lined up. The WR on the left runs a deep run back, going past where the S is lined up and then comes back toward the sideline. The Flanker runs a deep post to occupy the other S. The Packers hit that against Chicago a few years ago.

Inside is the key to the play is the OL has to be aggressive and Ďsell ití. The LBs W and M not only have to see the run blocking action but they have to hear it as well. They have to hear the pads crunching and that hopefully will make the LBs step up, which allows the TE to get behind them on the over route. And hopefully (again) the weak side E will "squeeze down" on the run action and the QB can slip out. The first read option is the FB, the second is the TE and the third is back to the FB - but Brett will be Brett and sometimes the FB is wide open but he'll look to the TE to get more yardage. If neither are open then Brett keeps going left and looks for the WR running the deep run back - if completed it should be about an 18 yard completion on the sideline.

If the SS steps up, then Brett looks for the Flanker running the deep post as he did vs. Chicago. The "jazz motion" is when the FB "shuffles" to the right keeping square to the LOS, as opposed to just turning and running in motion.

Pass 97U Stutter Keep Right

This play is run out of the unbalanced Tiger (2 WRs, 2 TEs) Trips right formation. Both TEs and the FL line up on the right side of the formation.

       FS                      SS
            W       M     SL
CB     E1  T    T     E                 CB
WR       O  O  O  O  O  TE TE
               Q                        FL


"Pass 97U" means the play is a pass off of a fake of the run 97U. Everyone except the RG on the OL blocks down towards the right as if 97U were being run. The RG pulls left to block E1. The WR runs an "over" route toward the middle of the field about 6 yards deep. The inside TE releases and goes to the flat to his right. The outside TE goes to his left as he does on the run play. The FL runs into the end zone, then "pushes" inside to the left, then goes toward the pylon on the right. The RB takes a stutter step to the right and then cuts back as if to run to the outside shoulder of E1.

Brett fakes the ball to the RB and rolls to the right. His first read is the inside TE in the flat. The WR on the over route is his second read. His third read is back to the TE in the flat. The play is designed to fake the run and have Brett out in space to the right with a TE running "with him", a WR going across the middle and the FL available for a pass in the EZ. This pass formation has been a staple of the WCO for 25 years. San Francisco ran their quarterback and a receiver in the end zone to the right until it opened up for a TD. They used this play pretty much every game while Montana or Young were their quarterbacks. When it's executed perfectly, the QB and receiver are just playing a simple game of catch while running parallel about 10-15 yards apart.

In the Buffalo game, the defense surprised the Packers on this play. Buffalo lined up in an "under" 4-3 defense, meaning their DL was shifted towards the Packerís left, and then performed a classic 3-4 zone blitz on the play. They brought a "strong dog" blitz to the right side of the Packerís formation: M and E crisscrossed so E went inside the RT and M went outside the RT. The SL, instead of covering a TE, blitzed. The SS came up to cover the flat while the FS goes toward the middle of the field to cover the middle third. W goes to the area M vacated while the CB covering the WR covers him man-to-man and E1 drops off in a zone blitz coverage.

When you look at the play diagramed what you see is that although Buffalo lined up in an "under" formation, they put a lot of pressure on the right side of the Packerís formation with the M/E stunt and SL blitz and then covered by rotating the weak side FS and W toward the strong side and by having E1 cover the zone in the flat. A run to the left would have caught Buffalo off guard, but of course thatís not the play that was called.

As the play develops, Brett can't get outside because of the SL, so he pulls up short and steps up in the pocket to his left. He can't make the throw to the TE in the flat - who is open as the S has given him a 3-4 yard cushion. The throw to the FL or the WR on the crossing route would be very difficult because of the pressure. So the play, on paper, has failed miserably.

Mike Sherman credited its success to Brett. I agree but would add Ahman Green as well. MS never said it was Ahmanís responsibility to run a pass route on the play. And as I watched the replay, it didn't look like it was. Ahman made a decent run fake then pauses while looking back at Brett. He sees heís in trouble and then takes off toward the end zone. At that point he becomes E1ís responsibility in coverage. This is a huge mismatch, a 280 pound end on a running back, and of course Ahman gets behind him for the TD.

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