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The passing game and the vertical offense Part I

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by jobberone, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. jobberone

    jobberone Genetically engineered moderating Orangutan Staff Member

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    So exactly what is a vertical offense? What's the big deal?

    The vertical offense is one which emphasizes attacking the defense in ways that forces it to defend the entire field. The best way I know how to start explaining the vertical offense is to give you a history of the pro offense.

    The forward pass was used experimentally at times in the late 1800s and in 1876 a forward pass in the Yale-Princeton game was allowed to stand after the referee tossed a coin to decide if it was a legal play.

    In 1905 there were 18 deaths and 159 serious injuries in college ball and there were calls to disband the game. President Roosevelt intervened and in late 1905 the rules were changed to allow the forward pass and decrease the number of mass plays thereby opening up the game. In the early 50s the pass began to resemble today’s game.

    Paul Brown is the father of the modern passing game despite those who claim it is Sid Gillman who however was still incredibly influential. More on Sid later.

    Paul played a preseason game against the Brooklyn Dodgers which ran an offense developed by Dr. Mal Stevens. Brown was so impressed he began to integrate some of the concepts of that offense into his own offensive philosophy.

    Most teams of that time ran out of a tight T formation. Brown modified this formation into the pro set where the fullback lined up behind the QB and the halfback beside the fullback or both behind the tackles. He also developed the flanker position putting speedy halfbacks outside the tight end and used them in the passing game. He split the end wide to allow them to get into their patterns more quickly and used motion as well.

    Passes were thrown to receivers after they became open in the early passing game. Brown saw the need for more intricate patterns and developed the first timing patterns. He was a strict disciplinarian and his players were meticulously practiced down to the steps they took on each play. From here it was a natural consequence to develop not only precise patterns or routes but also to have the players read and react to the defender. The first timing and reactive tree routes were invented. Both QB and receiver had to be on the same page. Brown had long ago used playbooks which each player was required to memorize and be tested on. He was the first to do so. He also was the first to test players' intelligence. From here it was easy for him to incorporate a read and react tree and timing offense.

    Over a 16 season span, Brown led his teams to 12 championships including the AAFC and NFL. He was the first coach to win a NCAA and NFL championship; a feat later duplicated by Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer.

    Sid Gillman who played at Ohio State before Brown coached there jumped from the collegiate ranks at the University of Cincinnati to the NFL's LA Rams where he went to the NFL championship game then the AFL's Chargers winning five West titles and one AFC championship. Gillman took the innovations of Brown to the next level by stretching the field with long passes instead of short passes to the wide receivers and running backs. He used timing patterns behind the passing of John Hadl and receiving of Lance Alworth then pounded the ball with the running of Keith Lincoln who was also a big part of the passing game as well. Many attribute today's passing game to Sid but Brown had already developed the early version of the vertical offense and had passed that on to many coaches in the country through his clinics. Sid expanded the vertical offense and began to stretch the field with it. He deserves his part in the development of the modern pro offense.

    Enter Don Coryell who used the I formation early in his career including as an assistant under John McKay at USC. When he moved to San Diego State he had to compete with USC, UCLA and other PAC ten teams and had trouble recruiting running backs. But he had an abundance of strong armed quarterbacks and receivers to pick from particularly from the junior college ranks. He moved to the passing game and won big. He jumped to the St Louis Cardinals and won division titles in 1974 and 1975 then became the head coach of the Chargers. It was here he had some of the most prolific passing offenses to ever play in the NFL.

    Coryell inherited a strong armed QB in Dan Fouts and Charlie Joiner came on board his first year there. Kellen Winslow arrived in 1979 and they traded for Chuck Muncie in 1980. The most prolific offense in NFL history had arrived. That offense led the NFL in passing for six consecutive years from 1979-1983 and again in 1985.

    The pro set was the default NFL scheme but that changed when Coryell obtained Muncie. While it is more of a formation, the underlying philosophy of the pro set was based on becoming more successful when a team was forced to pass by providing 1 or even 2 backs to help protect the QB. Prior to Coryell, the pro set was generally a running offense that used play action fakes to set up deep passing attempts. When Muncie arrived Coryell began using a one back set and used him out of the backfield.

    Fouts gave him the strong armed QB he needed to make all the throws particularly deep passes. Muncie afforded protection for him, strong inside and outside running, and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and get yards after catch with the mismatch on LBs. Winslow was the first modern day TE. Mackey was as fast and a better blocker but the offenses of his day weren't set up to deliver the ball as much to the TE. Winslow was a big WR in a TE body. The defenses of the day were not set up to cover this type of WR. He could split wide and create mismatches against the LB's and safeties of the day. Jefferson and Joiner had the speed to stretch the defense and the quickness and intelligence to run the proper routes. And they had a pretty good OL. They were a nightmare of DC's.

    I'm going to stop there. I really wanted to spend another week or so on this and add and polish as there is a lot more . But there is so much confusion about the offense that I'm going to just throw this up with this disclaimer and the right to modify as necessary. Please, feel free to add to or disagree. I'll follow this up with a more parts as I have time in the next couple of weeks if possible. I'll try to get another one up today actually.
  2. Doomsay

    Doomsay Well-Known Member

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    Good lunch read, thanks.
  3. Gaede

    Gaede Well-Known Member

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    Great write-up. Can't wait for part 2!
  4. LeonDixson

    LeonDixson Illegitimi non carborundum

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    Good job, jobberone. Some of that brought back memories and part of it was stuff I never knew.
  5. rickjameschinaclub

    rickjameschinaclub Benched

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    So when are we going to get the post on how their can be awful coaches in their application of certains aspects of the vertical system and good coaches in their application of certain aspects of the vertical system?
  6. jobberone

    jobberone Genetically engineered moderating Orangutan Staff Member

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    I'm not going to accommodate that and I'd appreciate it if no one else does.
  7. rickjameschinaclub

    rickjameschinaclub Benched

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    I wouldn't expect you too, meaning it was sarcastic... telling us about how the vertical offense does little to tell us why Garrett sucks at it, while a guy like Coryell was a beast at it, meaning a thread on the vertical offense is really irrelevant to the Dallas Cowboys and why they are a sinking ship on offense.

    I mean, when your 6th in passing yards and 21st in scoring that it is a quite telling stat. But yeah, blame the WRs...
  8. jobberone

    jobberone Genetically engineered moderating Orangutan Staff Member

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    Well, I haven't finished yet hence the Part I thingy. But I'm not going to tell you he sucks at it ever. Because he doesn't. Now whether he succeeds here in Dallas is one thing but the guy is acknowledged as a very good OC by the league who is also fairly inventive as well . Since they know infinitely more than YOU do I'll go with that. In fact I know a LOT more than you do and I'm not the most knowledgeable poster on this forum when it comes to this offense and breaking down Xs and Os. In fact you seem to know nothing about this yet you keep spouting off with nothing but Garrett sucks and not one reason why the offense is struggling.

    If you want to add to the conversation by commenting on why the offense is not doing as well as we'd like do so. But if you keep up with nothing but nonsense then people are going to think you are trolling rather than trying to have a football conversation.

    Again, if you have any knowledgeable ideas about what's going on we'd all love to hear it.
  9. rickjameschinaclub

    rickjameschinaclub Benched

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    Whose acknowledged him as a good OC, especially considering now the excuse even from commentators that he should give up his OC duties to focus exclusively on being a HC?

    Oh, I do and it's obvious that Red-Headed One isn't the Savior that the blind homers are hoping...

    So explain to me how we keep garnering yards via passing, 6th in the whole NFL to be exact (which has been a common theme of Garrett), yet we are 21st in scoring (which is also a common theme of Garrett)? I mean the stats are telling us that we rack up yards via passing, meaning the WRs, and not only Witten, are technically catching balls and Romo isn't always over-throwing, yet we still don't score... Looks to me to be the same-old same old, which is Romo is obscuring how bad Garrett really is...
  10. davidyee

    davidyee Maple Leaf

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    ...being a good OC is a guarantee to winning in the NFL. As the joke in the forum goes...there three phases to the game and anyone of the other two can negate a great offensive performance.

    For any of those interestedcheck out how Coryell and his Chargers offence led by Fouts and Winslow actually did in their pursuit of the Superbowl.

    In regards to Garrett we may be as fans overly harsh and expecting much too much from Garrett.

    Does he need to relinquish his duties as the OC? Possibly, but that in itself is no guarantee the rest of the team lives up to its responsibility to doing their jobs.

    For me the problem seems much more systemic and it would not surprise me if some fundamental culture changes outside of Garrett's hands are the hidden keys to propelling the Cowboys back to a more consistent and successful team we all hope and want them to be.
  11. lurkercowboy

    lurkercowboy Active Member

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    Great read. Can't wait for part II
  12. jobberone

    jobberone Genetically engineered moderating Orangutan Staff Member

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    Ok this paragraph is mostly reasonable and worthy of discussing. You'd really have to discuss this with the offensive coaches to get the entire picture but all the things some of us have mentioned over several recent threads are creating the scoring problem. Some of it is drives being stopped by mistakes whether penalties, dropped balls on 3rd down yada. Some of it is the OL not blocking well enough. Some of it is defenses allowing us the short game betting we can't either score at all or score a TD due to drive killers whether TOs or mistakes. There's been plenty of conversation about the running game and the passing game. I suggest you reread it.
  13. rickjameschinaclub

    rickjameschinaclub Benched

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    Overly harsh and expecting too much? The guy has been getting away with mediocrity since he's been the HC. Everybody else is shouldering the blame for his inept play-calling.

    I'm still waiting for the names of those that think he's a great OC?
  14. rickjameschinaclub

    rickjameschinaclub Benched

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    So Garrett was suppose to correct these issues, because these were an issue of Camp Cupcake.... So is any of this lack of scoring attributed to Garrett's play-calling, or is he implementation of the vertical offense his excuse? Bruce Coslett and Dave Schula would have you know that just because you run a particular system, doesn't mean your any good at it.

    I'm still waiting for your that list of coaches. I mean your talking about how people that know football say one thing and I allegedly say other things, but these commentators played NFL football or coached it are telling us Garrett should focus exclusively on being HC and delegating play-calling to other coaches. Even the Garrett homers for the last 3 years arguing that he should be coach because he's cerebral and knows how to call plays are turning and saying he should relinquish play-call duties.
  15. vlad

    vlad Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    That was unexpected and well written. Thanks, looking forward to any additions
  16. jobberone

    jobberone Genetically engineered moderating Orangutan Staff Member

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    Thanks. I may be too busy to put anything up until after the holidays though. I'll try. Some of Part II is written but it needs more work.
  17. Wolfpack

    Wolfpack Well-Known Member

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    Thats a great write up and nice that you knew to go back to Brown. Otto Graham was his guy and doesnt get enough credit as an important cog in that machine.

    Brown was much like Jimmy Johnson in that he demanded your full attention and would cut you if he didnt get it. That affect on a player, can not be discounted.

    I thought Brown went down the field more than you hint at but I dont have any sources in front of me to back that up. You are kind of saying he ran the 1st WCO?
  18. jobberone

    jobberone Genetically engineered moderating Orangutan Staff Member

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    Let's see. Coryell had Fouts and Joiner his first year. Then he got Kellen. Then he got Muncie who was considered the best back in football. That's three HOFers plus Muncie. They had a good OL.

    Are you really going to compare those SD Chargers with our team? Do you honestly think Garrett should be turning our guys right now into HOF players? Romo isn't Fouts although some day he might be. Witten will be in the HOF but he's not the player Kellen was. Jefferson and Joiner are head and shoulders above our WRs. And while I like our RBs neither one is a Chuck Muncie at least not yet. OL....no need to go there.

    Those guys made Coryell as much as he made them.

    And most of us talking about the problems with the offense aren't defending Garrett. We're talking about the problems of the offense and why they are struggling.
  19. rickjameschinaclub

    rickjameschinaclub Benched

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    You do realize Dan Fouts came into the league in 1973 and it was only with his teaming up with Coryell in San Diego in 1979 did he become a true legend, i.e. Coryell made Dan Fouts even greater. On the other hand, Garrett was gifted Romo and is making Romo's career go down the tubes, the longer he stays with him. Now, people are blaming Romo for Garrett's ineptitude, like yourself giving us an example where Romo overthrew Witten on one route as some evidence that Garrett is just brillian.

    Further, Garrett also has a HoF tight end in Jason Witten, and yet, they still aren't getting in the end-zone. And Garrett was also giften with TO, i.e. a HoF wide-receiver and he didn't have him just for 2007. In 2008, Garrett once again did his magic when he got total control of the offense, and the Cowboys production on offense began it's pathetic decline. They tried to up the production, blaming it on the WRs and went ahead and got Roy Williams. Whoops.. that didn't work... Then Miles Austin had to bail out Garrett with that magical performance against KC, which once again gave Garrett homers more excuses. And now, we see the Garrett factor coming into full force again, with Miles being neglected and running routes that don't take any use of his skill set.

    But yeah, I guess it's Jason Garrett's fault he doesn't have HoF players in every single position of the game.

    Seriousyl, putting Coryell in the same sentence with Jason Garrett is flat-out almost as comical as putting Garrett in the same sentence with Tom Landry.
  20. Idgit

    Idgit Ice up, son. Ice up! Staff Member

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    Perhaps people don't like your attitude or the tone of your posts, and so they are either ignoring you or are just disregarding your question. I know, if you ask nicely, I'd be happy to share my opinion on the topic.

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