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Thursday, October 17
Updated: October 25, 1:20 PM ET
Offense sets up QBs to succeed

A few of ESPN's resident quarterbacks were asked about the pros and cons of the West Coast offense. Here is what they had to say:

Joe Theismann
The quarterback gets the ball out of his hand quickly. The throws are shorter, normally 10 yards or less. The receivers have a chance to catch the football and run with it. Offensive linemen don't have to hold their blocks for a long time. The quarterback can get the ball in the hands of your running back in space. Pressure up the middle can upset its timing, and it's a timing-based offense. Pressure can be even more effective if it moves the quarterback around, especially if he doesn't have mobility. A lack of sure-handed receivers hurts the offense, because it can cause a lot of long-yardage situations.
Sean Salisbury
The pros far outweigh the cons. It is set up for high-percentage plays that get everyone involved -- including the tight end and fullback. It's a versatile attack. The offense can control the clock with a four-minute drill, if the team has a lead and wants to hold onto the ball. Or the offense can flood some zones and make big plays, especially if it has a physical receiver like Jerry Rice who can run after the catch. Great quarterbacks make the West Coast offense go. It's ideal when the quarterback is both mobile and accurate, like Rich Gannon. The offense is efficient with the right quarterback to execute it. The quarterback must be mobile. If he's not, he must be extremely accurate. It also hurts if the West Coast team doesn't have tough, physical receivers who are willing to run inside, run slant routes, come across the middle and make plays. A lot of teams don't have either one. The cons, however, can be limited if everyone is on the same page.
Mark Malone
The West Coast offense is a very high-percentage offense. Because the quarterback gets rid of the football quickly, there is not as much stress on the offensive line and the quarterback is kept out of harm's way. In that sense, it enables the offense to be more finesse. Although it is perceived as a pure passing offense, it is actually balanced. West Coast teams that have enjoyed great success, including winning the Super Bowl, had running games ranked in the top 5-10 in the league. There seems to be no vertical aspect to the offense, but at its best the West Coast offense stretches the defense both horizontally and vertically. There aren't many, unless the quarterback isn't accurate and doesn't understand how it works. The offense is extremely precise; the receivers have to be at a certain yardage and depth at a certain time. It can be complicated, but it's a difficult offense to defend if the complications are worked out.

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