Andy Reid's passing game: The ultimate tendency breaker


From the FanPosts -Joel

Theoretically, Andy Reid has forgotten more offense than the rest of us will learn during the duration of our lives as fans, players, coaches, and pundits alike. His tenure coaching under - and with - some of the more prominent names in the annals of NFL history, has shaped what I believe to be the greatest offensive mind in football today. For what most people think they know about Reid's offensive scheme, might only a slight earmark of what he frequently displays. To put it vaguely, with Reid, there may literally may be infinite amount possibilities on offense...Especially with his new team!

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Just think off the top of your head, what are some of the quips that come to mind when you think about Andy Reid? (I'm referring to offensive football, cut it out with the fat jokes!) You'll probably say he's a 'West Coast Offense' guy. Throws the ball entirely too much. And is running an antiquated version of the old Bill Walsh system. In a fair world, you could considerably be right. To a degree.

But in the world I live in, the film doesn't lie.

Reid's offense is built off West Coast principles, there's no debating that. When in dire need of a first down or a key play, we will definitely see something drawn up that the late, great Bill Walsh would be proud of. Whether it be short, timely throws - or one of his seemingly 20 different ways to run a half-back screen pass - there are plenty elements of the "WCO" running through Reid's blood. But after years and years of studying his offense, I've noticed an evolution into a vertical based passing scheme, based off a myriad of formations - designed to virtually never give the defense a similar formation and play twice.

For people who say Reid passes too much, I'd say that's a subjective comment. Because the name of the game is to impose your WILL on the opposition. And as we all know, Andy WILL pass!! (Zing! I crack myself up!) But seriously, Andy Reid's philosophy is similar to what we used to see from the boxer Mike Tyson early in his career. He wants to hit you quick and hard, before you even know what happened, which in turn throws your game plan right out the proverbial window. He takes this approach in his first quarter play calling, as well as in his early down aggressiveness. The rapid variation in which he asks his personnel to line-up, will work to perfection with his new team - the Kansas City Chiefs.

After Reid's 14 season tenure ended in Philadelphia this past season, I was hoping he'd land on his feet with a team that had a chance to compete within his first couple of seasons in town. My wish was granted when Andy signed on the become the coach of the Chiefs.

For Andy Reid's offense to work, he needs players that are versatile in a multitude of ways. The receivers have to be equally adept in the short game - as far as tackle breaking - as they are catch passes deep downfield. With monsters like Dwayne Bowe (6-foot-2, 225 lbs) and Jon Baldwin (6-foot-4, 230 lbs), blended with quick and speedy players like Dexter McCluster and Donnie Avery, Reid may have the finest set of receivers he's ever had!

The tight ends have to be able to block, but they must serve as an extra receiver in the formation moreover. Veteran Anthony Fasano fits that description, but the explosive, fourth year man - Tony Moeaki - could be a potential star in Andy Reid's offense. Both of these guys will work in tandem in certain packages.

Joe Robbins Getty Images Sport

Line play is paramount in any scheme, but definitely in the Andy Reid scheme. His use of five and seven step drops in his vertical pass game puts pressure on everyone up front. In addition, Reid has a vast movement game where he either maneuvers the pocket, or has the QB sprint out to certain sides. In turn, every member of the offensive line must be a pretty good athlete, as they do a lot of pulling and trapping - and even become lead blockers in certain situations. The line overall is pretty good when healthy. Guards Jon Asamoah & Geoff Schwartz are pretty serviceable, but the tackle duo of Branden Albert and this past drafts number one overall pick, Eric Fisher, may turn out to be a special pairing. Both have the prerequisite athleticism that will have Andy Reid foaming at the mouth trying to work it into his offensive wizardry. Overall, Reid should be excited about this line after last season's debacle in Philadelphia.

Many people think Andy Reid neglects the running backs in his scheme, I beg to differ. The running back is the tone setter for the entire offense. First and foremost, the running backs need to be superb blockers. Often times with tight ends running routes like receivers, the backs are left in to act as ends/fullbacks. In addition to that, they must be reliable receivers or they may never even sniff the field!

The screen game, acts as an addendum to the run game. And as I previously mentioned, Andy Reid may have the most vast game in the league in that area. Reid had a couple of really special tone setters in Philadelphia in Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy. But I believe he will have a back better than both of those wonderful players. Jamaal Charles, in my opinion, is the second best running back in the entire league, with Minnesota's Adrian Peterson being the first. He is almost spectacular in every aspect of his game. His hands would be really good even if he were a full-time receiver! His blocking is impeccable, and he is possibly the most explosive open field runner in all of football! Rookie Knile Davis has a lot of the same attributes, and might be even faster than Charles in straight line speed. Not to mention he's 6'0 - 227 lbs! Expect big things out of the Kansas City backfield.

Don't get it twisted, this scheme is heavy on inside and outside the tackle runs - but this article is specifically about Reid's pass game prowess - so I'll break down the run in a future installment.

Grooming quarterbacks is mostly what built Andy Reid's legacy. From his early work as a qb coach for the legendary Brett Favre in Green Bay, to his dynamic work in Philadelphia with the likes of; Donovan McNabb, A.J. Feeley, Jeff Garcia, Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, and Nick Foles - Andy Reid has always gotten the best out of his quarterbacks. Some people tend to think that Andy Reid's scheme's are so brilliant, that he makes QB's look a lot better than they are. In some aspects that's true. But most importantly, Reid's immense playbook - seems to have something for all different kinds of QB's.

From three, five, and seven step drops , to shotgun, under-center, and even pistol formations - there are a lot of platforms from which to deliver a pass in the Andy Reid scheme. QB's must be versed in the short, intermediate, and deep game. Having a strong arm is not valued over quick decision making, accuracy, and sound mechanics. Effective ball-handling in regards to play-action fakes is paramount. None of these characteristics should be a problem for Reid's newest QB, former number one overall pick, Alex Smith!

Alex Smith is a lot better than given credit for. He's a very good athlete, who's been in at least four or five different offensive systems in his career in the NFL, while playing in a spread-option based attack in college. This versatility will be worth it's weight in gold, now that he's charged with leading this Chiefs attack.

His limited arm strength is a fallacy, and totally misguided. He can make all the necessary throws on any quadrant of the field. He might not have the arm strength of a Joe Flacco, but he's certainly not dwelling in the cellar with say a Chad Pennington. I think this season will go a long way in terms of Smith dispelling a lot of the misdiagnosed faults in his game. He will by far have the best cast of offensive players in his career, with a football genius overseeing it all. I expect a quick turnaround in Kansas City, with Alex Smith spearheading it all.


Andy Reid's offense is a concoction of personnel groupings mostly aimed at making the defense think, thus far retarding the way the defense operates on a play by play basis. '11' and '12' personnel (1RB, 1TE, 3WR) -(1RB, 2TE, 2WR) make up the basic alignment of his scheme. The way he formulates such groupings is where it gets tricky.

Receivers don't have a primary side or position, nor do tight ends. Each receiver must know the full route tree, from each part of the formation. Tight ends must know all the receivers responsibilities, as they line up all over the field as well. Receivers often line up tight off the line to serve as pseudo tight ends. Running backs do this as well. All eligible receivers and backs block, block, block!

oo Personnel Grouping under Andy Reid.

oo Personnel Grouping under Andy Reid.

Here would be an interesting personnel grouping for the Chiefs. Both TE's are semi-lined up in the backfield - which would negate any jamming by a defender, but would also leave them in to pass protect. If the slot receiver is any of the RB's or a hybrid Dexter McCluster - things would really get interesting if motioned into the backfield. As you can see, Andy Reid usually had four eligible receivers on any given pass play. And there is usually someone threatening to take the top off the defense. Alex Smith himself would be a threat for a designed run out of any of these formations as well. So many ways.....

3 x 1 alignment w/ a TE in the backfield.

3 x 1 alignment w/ a TE in the backfield.

Here we have a tight end lined up in the backfield. He's used here s a blocker, but in other plays he's a receiver who would have to be defended by a MLB, which is a complete mismatch. Imagine Moeaki lined up at this position! The spacing alone would be worth a big-gainer when attacking the right part of the defense. Reid has his most explosive receiver lined up in the slot - which he does a lot to keep defenders from pressing them. Can you imagine Bowe or Baldwin against a 3rd or 4th corner or safety? Scary!

Essentially 00 personnel.

Essentially 00 personnel.

Another grouping that would involve Moeaki and Fasano. This is a sprint left with Eagles QB Vick, this play would be ran towards the right with Alex Smith as part of Andy Reid's movement game. I'd expect Baldwin to line up where Avant is in this formation. A big, athletic monster like that, would be like a 3rd tight end in this formation!

Andy Reid Formation 5

This is what's referred to as '20' personnel. 2RB with 3WR. This would normally be a run in most formations. As a tendency breaker, Reid normally runs play-action with it - which each skill player acting as a receiver. Deception at it's best.

Andy Reid's version of '12' - "Pro Personnel"

Andy Reid's version of '12' - "Pro Personnel"

'12' personnel here - 1 RB, 2TE, 2WR. Andy Reid keeps his speed on the right side of the formation with the receivers lined up together. This could essentially be Avery and Bowe, as Reid wants to attack the back half out of a play-action. QB's in Reid's system usually read from High to Low. Meaning go deep first on pass plays, then come back to the short game in the QB's read progression. Not typical of a 'WCO'.

Andy Reid Formation 4

And finally here we have another two tight end, three receiver set. Only problem is, one of the ends are lined up in the slot. This would undoubtedly be Moeaki's spot. Coming out of the huddle this could look like Ace personnel, but once they line up it would be a spread formation with five eligible receivers!

Andy Reid will attempt to reprise the success he had with the Philadelphia Eagles. His brand of offensive football will mesh perfectly with the quality of players he has at his disposal in Kansas City. After being the worst team in the league record wise, I expect Kansas City to make a rapid turnaround and challenge for their division immediately. When it comes to moving the ball by way of the pass, there are virtually an infinite amount of possibilities. How's that for a tendency breaker?

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This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.