GSOT- II Part 2

I’ve been intrigued with delving into the old theories and artistry that GSOT shocked the NFL world with. I wanted to share some more of what I’m learning about the good old days, and what the future might bring if we wish for it hard enough.

The original GSOT scheme was born while Martz was the QB and WR’s coach. It used the basics of Air Coryell with a spiritual twist…..and that was to attack the field vertically and be totally relentless!

GSOT lived off 5 wide receivers to spread the secondary, which would ensure that there would be man coverage somewhere on the field. Once again you need a veteran O-line to give the deep threats time to develop much like McHoody tried and failed to do.

So if you can’t have a monster wall to protect the QB what’s the next best thing? Increase the speed of the receivers is one way. They can get open by being shifty or having the ability to eat up chunks of ground much faster than a typical big-body wide out. I think Fisher has realized that even though he has tweaked the O-Line, a good insurance plan is to get the fastest team he can come up with.

Getting back to the 1999 offense…. we need to understand that it hasn’t been truly duplicated for several reasons. The playbook wasn’t complicated with technically challenging plays, but was complicated in the sheer number of formations, and route permutations.

In other words the offense has to know the playbook inside and out. The players needed to execute "The Martz" version was a rare assemblage of unique players, which made the sum greater than its individual pieces.

A complete arsenal of offensive weapons needs to be available on any given play. Some of these tools included a Tall Receiver with the height advantage, a quick pass catching running back, a dangerous Tight End, and a QB who can find the target and stand in the pocket and deliver the ball. But most of all he needs to be intelligent and experienced enough to read the defense prior to the snap.

So the bottom line of the Coryell system is the pass opens up the running game. How it does this in theory… is by having 3 or more receivers stretching the field vertically. That forces the defense to pull players off the line of scrimmage in order to cover them. This in turn makes holes for the running game to exploit. Adding a running back that can catch adds even more versatility to the playbook.

The timing route was developed by Coryell and is still used today by almost every team in the NFL to some degree. When Sam talks about working timing is he talking timing route or just timing? I really don’t know but I hope they work on some timing routes.

The Bill Walsh variant was developed by need. In 1969 the Bengals star QB Greg Cook suffered a career ending arm injury. Forced to make due with Virgil Carter the backup the deep route wouldn’t work because of his weak arm. Walsh was forced to shape the offense around short passes, and the result was stretching the defense horizontally.

Walsh’s receivers ran short tricky timing routes and were often expected to be open just a few yards from the line of scrimmage. The Bengals also often used their running back as a receiver rather than having him stay behind to block. Walsh had found that he could use short passing as a substitute for the run when it wasn’t working to make small gains of 4 or 5 yards a play and eat up game clock. When the defense got tired of these short yard passes and pulled men off the line, once again the running game opened up.

Walsh perfected his methodology in Cincinnati and took it to San Francisco 1979 as the head coach. It turns out that Joe Montana was a perfect fit for Walsh’s system and of course the rest is history.

Here is an interesting tid-bit about how this system flowed from Coach to Coach. Walsh had a number of assistant coaches who took his system with them when they began coaching their own teams.

Mike Holmgren worked under Walsh and took his system with him when he became head coach for the Green Bay Packers. He would then use it to win a Super Bowl with quarterback Bret Favre during the 90s. George Seifert would inherit the 49ers head coaching position after serving under Walsh and go on to win two more Super Bowls while teaching the system to future coaches Mike Shanahan and Jeff Fisher.

The Coryell system requires the threat of a running game to be affective, because deep routes take time to develop. The Walsh system can simulate a running game by tossing short passes, so having a premier running back isn’t really needed to be successful.

So what happens when you take the Coryell system and mix it with a dominating offensive line, and a power running game? Joe Gibs won three super bowls with three different QB’s in the 80’s and 90’s. Mike Shanahan used the Walsh system and unique zone-blocking with an elite running game. That resulted in two super bowl wins for the Denver Broncos.

The Coryell system is the most dangerous once installed, but the challenge is to find the right personnel that makes it work. The Walsh system is easier to learn and coaches prefer to use it with young teams. I guess Pat Schurmur was wearing the Walsh system hat, when he was in St. Louis.

I’m left wondering what new wrinkle the 2013 Rams will show. My best guess is we are going to see a hybrid system that is determined by what the players can handle, and guided by the years of experience Fisher and Schottenheimer bring to the table. I would be surprised if it all comes together at once, but I guess lighting could strike again.

I’m certainly hoping that it does!

Here is today’s bonus link for those of you who would like to see the Rams 2001 Playbook. It contains 414 pages of mind numbing formations and directions.

Thanks for Reading!


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