Thursday, November 29, 2012

Drops and the West Coast Offense

This morning a reader asked me to take a look at the depth Colin Kaepernick is getting on his drops, as it appeared that he was getting more depth than Alex Smith on the 7 step drop.  It is a really good question, and there is something to it.  While looking for a good example to share, I also noticed a good example of the West Coast Offense concepts that the 49ers use in their passing game.

Let's take a look at the drop depth question first, starting with Alex Smith.

Now let's take a look at Kaepernick on a similar play.

As you can see,  Kaepernick is about a 1/2 yard to 1 yard deeper on the drop than is Smith.  That slight difference might not seem like much, but in reality it is.  That extra depth on the drop is forcing the defensive ends to go more vertical in their pass rush, thus opening up the pocket for Kaepernick to step up, and slide out in either direction if pressured from the middle.  A subtle thing that can make a lot of difference.

The other thing that I noticed in reviewing these plays was the West Coast concepts in the passing game.  A key to the WCO is being able to run a single route combination from a variety of sets.  Doing this makes it easier for the quarterback because the reads stay the same from multiple formations while only the receivers change.

If you look at the last picture of each sequence you will notice that the routes and reads are similar in that both feature a receiver on a short out/flat route with a second receiver running to the corner with a backside post.  The receivers are starting from different areas within the formation but their routes are taking them into the same areas.  The reads for the quarterback are staying the same and the look the offense is giving the defense has changed.

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