CINCINNATI -- New England coach Bill Belichick has expressed his reverence for former Browns and Bengals coach Paul Brown before. However, as he spoke with reporters Wednesday morning in Cincinnati ahead of Sunday's game between the Patriots and Bengals, he took his admiration a step further.
As far as Belichick's concerned, the same offense the rest of the football universe knows as the West Coast scheme, deserves a different name.
"The West Coast offense should really be the Ohio River offense because it's Paul Brown's offense that [Bill] Walsh took out of there," Belichick said, referencing Walsh's 1980s San Francisco 49ers teams that won three Super Bowls.
Much like Walsh's scheme, which helped revolutionize the modern-day NFL, Brown's system called for short-yardage throws to receivers and running backs in spaces where they could take off and gain yards after the catch. It opened up offenses, and put the onus on defenders to account for more than two or three playmakers.
"The more you read about Paul Brown, the more you look at what he did, he truly is the father of this game," Belichick said. "He was so ahead of his time in all the organizational things, a lot of the schematic things. The preparation that we do, it's all very, very similar to what he did half a century ago, or maybe longer ago. The more I know about Paul Brown, the more impressed I am with him."
That's quite a feat, considering Belichick doesn't seem impressed by much. On his same conference call with Bengals reporters, Belichick was quick to bring up the exhaustive list of mistakes he believes his undefeated team still has to clean up.
Before founding and coaching the Bengals in 1968, Brown served as Cleveland's head coach across parts of three decades. He was respected there for his use of running backs and his ability to win championships. He claimed seven while with the Browns. In the eight years in which he served as Bengals head coach, Brown led Cincinnati to the playoffs three times.
Here's a little more on what Belichick had to say about the "father" of the Ohio River offense and how its principles still apply to today's game:
"The possession passing game and the balance he brought to the offense. It really was when he went to Cincinnati that you saw that you can pass the ball five or six yards and that's a good play that moves the chains and keeps the down and distance in your favor. Passes don't have to be 15 to 18 yards down the field where it's either a big gain or an incomplete pass. Then you had a lot of second-and-10s. He was able to use his backs in the passing game, which is such a trademark of the West Coast offense.
"And using the tight ends on the short intermediate routes, too. Like I said, not always the 12- to 15-yard routes, but being able to get them the ball. The whole catch-and-run principles. We're in those drive routes, those underneath crossing routes. It's a 2- or 3-yard pass, but you get the ball in the hands of a good player and they can make 15 out it. The possession timing passing game and the utilization of the backs and tight ends, as well as the receivers in the passing game. Being able to attack all areas of the field, the width of the field, the inside part of the field, the deep part of the field, plus in conjunction with the running game, the balance that he had offensively was again so far ahead of it's time. Even going back to Cleveland, you saw a lot of that back in that day, even with the toss sweeps that they used to run, as well as the inside running game, they did a good job of getting the ball down the field, as well. It was expanded to a different level, certainly one that's more familiar to the current NFL was when he went to Cincinnati in the late-60s and implemented what's now the West Coast offense, but to me is Paul Brown's offense."