When July and August come around my mind shifts to the times I spent presenting some character development messages and chapels with either the 49ers or Raiders. While I never met the great Coach Bill Walsh, who won three Super Bowl Trophies as the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers, I worked with several head coaches who ascribed to his football philosophies.

Some would say the original West Coast Offense, so potent in the world of football, was a product of Oakland Raiders Al Davis or San Diego Chargers Sid Gilman; both of whom were very pass oriented. Others would claim that it was the by-product of “the Genius,” Coach Bill Walsh.

The West Coast Offense has lots of motion from the running backs and wide receivers. The many short passes in this offense allows gifted runners to break tackles in the open field and gain much yardage. There is a great deal of zone blocking for the offense line, with the running backs operating out of a single back or an “I” formation. The key to this offense is deception. One coach said, “It’s all about fooling your opponent and keeping him off balance.”

This quick hitting offense helps reduce the effectiveness of very mobile and agile linebackers, who like to blitz a lot. By the time they get to the quarterback he has already released the ball. Instead of doing a five—or seven—step drop-back, in this plan the wary quarterback moves three steps back and immediately throws the ball to a receiver.

Most coaches will agree that four things are needed to make this offense work:

  1. Players must be smart and listen carefully to each play call. The average West Coast Offense may have 130-150 plays that involve various men in motion off a basic formation. The players must keep track of where the opponents are, remember the snap count, and be able to move into his new position just at the proper time.
  2. A team must be patient and disciplined to allow the time necessary for all the motion-men to do their thing while not jumping off-sides, or sending two men in motion at the same time. It also requires the coach to get the new play communicated to the quarterback quickly so that he has enough time after breaking the huddle to set his receivers in motion.
  3. Receivers must be fast and precise in their patterns. “It’s all about timing!” With an accurate quarterback, and a receiver who runs precise patterns, a quick slant pattern is almost unstoppable. If a team needs five yards, a quarterback can toss a bullet-like pass low and away from the defender allowing only the receiver to have a good shot at catching the pass.
  4. Adaptation is a key to success. Many of today’s NFL coaches, who studied under Walsh, have taken their initial concepts of his system and have modified their play selection to take advantage of the individual skills and abilities of selected key players. An explosive running attack compliments the short passing game.

A Controlled Spirit

In a similar manner, God is our Head Coach. His wisdom in selecting the right path for us is the perfect solution to any problem. He can help us attack Satan and put him on is back, but we must have a willing spirit to allow God to be in control.

I remember reading a book some time ago entitled, The Controlled Spirit Temperament. This book has long disappeared from my library shelves, along with scores of others loaned out and never returned. What I remember of the book deals with how we need to work at being under control.

Our natural worldly spirit suggests, “If it feels good, do it.” Once we receive Christ into our lives, we are filled with a Spirit who is not of this earth. To some, this will sound very mystical, yet God intended for it to be very understandable. “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” (Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17).

The Apostle Peter at Pentecost reminded the believers that they would receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” in they repented and were baptized (Acts 2:37-39).

I know I need help calling the plays in my life. I appreciate knowing that the ultimate Coach and Counselor runs my West Coast Offense. He can run yours too. Just continue to ask God to come into your heart and take over your life. He will help guide you in all your decisions.

Personal Application:

  1. Are we listening to God for the plays He is calling in our lives? According to His word “God give us victory” over our difficulties (1 Cor. 15:57).
  2. God guides us along the right paths Ps. 23:3. He will guide you (us) in all truth (John 16:13).
  3. How can we better connect His Word (our Playbook) to our lives?

Have you recently checked out our website for tools and resources to assist you and your church? www.mensministrycatalyst.org

Jim Grassi, D. Min.