Posted on December 18th, 2012 in Uncategorized by mtran19


Posted on December 18th, 2012 in Uncategorized by mtran19


You can call it luck or destiny, but the moment Bill Walsh entered the world of professional football, a path was cleared for him to change the game forever.  It began in 1966 when Bill Walsh went to work for the Oakland Raiders, where he became specialized in vertical passing offense while training with Raider’s head coach, Al Davis.  Two years later when Walsh was named quarterback coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, he had to put his specialized training to use.  Walsh had to adapt a system to accommodate the Bengals’ newest player, Virgil Carter, a quarterback Cincinnati had acquired in a 1969 trade with the Chicago Bears.  The problem with Carter was that despite his stellar agility and accuracy in throws, he lacked strength.  Bill Walsh began to develop what later became the West Coast Offense (WCO), a variation of the vertical passing offense in Oakland.  The WCO highlighted Virgil Carter’s strengths by allowing him to make short passes, with a larger range of open wide receivers, with less dependence on defensive blocking, and no deep pass requirement.  He spent eight seasons with the Bengals until he departed in 1977 to become Stanford football’s head coach.  Walsh took one year to implement West Coast Offense into the Stanford team and brought them to two championships in the two seasons that he spent with them.  This was just the beginning of the Reign of Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense.  Because what followed Cincinnati and Stanford is what made Bill Walsh a household name.
Walsh was appointed head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 1979.  He had acquired a team that had gone 2 and 14 in the previous year and would go on to repeat the dismal season in 1979, his first year with San Francisco.  Things turned around when he found what the West Coast Offense had been missing to bring it success in the pros.  Walsh drafted Joe Montana in 1979 and immediately started him at the center of the WCO in 1980.  The combination of a quick, effective strategy and a dynamic quarterback, proved to be successful as the 49ers won their first Super Bowl under Bill Walsh just two years after he had been appointed.  It also proved to be a deadly combination as Bill Walsh and the 49ers acquired three more championship rings in 1981, 1984, and 1988.  He continued to build a formidable offensive line in San Francisco by drafting the likes of Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, Jerry Rice, and Steve Young.  Power moves like the implementation of the West Coast Offense and the smart drafts of underrated, but talented athletes, marked Bill Walsh down as one of the most intelligent and innovative coaches and offensive coordinators in NFL history.  Not only did Walsh develop a foolproof way to win, he revolutionized the way coaches and players interact with each and on the field, in turn changing the game into what it is today.


Bill Walsh and his offensive strategy is still prevalent in modern football.  The Bill Walsh coaching tree below depicts the assistants and future head coaches that trained under a specialized offensive strategy.  The names boxed in red are the coaches that headed teams that went on to win Super Bowl Championships.  The blue boxes denote coaches that led teams to Super Bowl appearances.  All of the coaches in this tree utilize West Coast Offense or offensive centered strategies with their teams.  22 of the 33 coaches listed have made championship victories and/or appearances.  The trend is unwavering as the number of offensive based teams in the championship hasn’t diminished since the inception of the Super Bowl and the implementation of the West Coast Offense.


The West Coast Offense is a strategy that implements various formations and plays that focuses on spreading both defensive and offensive lines in order to increase the number of potential receivers on the field at once as well as increase the duration of a play or pass.  A traditional offense runs on a vertical tangent, the goal in theory is to open up as many perpendicular passing lanes as possible to gain more yards.  This allows for a defensive line to train for one possible scenario in which the offensive line will be making vertical runs to the end zone.  Bill Walsh wanted a variety of options in offensive play on the field as he concentrated the formation around the quarterback and the wide receiver.  With unconventional offensive layouts that generally toted imbalance and little dependence on a defensive line, Bill Walsh developed the theory of “pass first, run later” in football.

In order to run WCO successfully, there are some key players with specialized skills that are required on a team.  Because dependence has shifted from the defensive line to the quarterback, an ideal player to centralize the WCO would be an intelligent QB who is quick physically and intelligently.  With less defensive backing for the QB, he finds himself more often than not in rapid closing proximity to the opposing team.  In the short span of time, the WCO quarterback must make a snap decision as to which of the five available receivers on the field would gain the most yards.  The QB also has the option to act as a runner when the opposing defense is covering the wide receiving line carefully.  That being said, those are the two sole options given to the quarterback that allow the WCO to work successfully, so the player is now limited in creative play, and must follow the strategy to the tee.  The other half of a WCO team is a receiver that plays well in the face of an aggressive opposing defense.  Wide receivers must be quick as well as large to allow each catches in close proximity to large defensemen.  The development of a specialized player in offensive playing has affected the way young, aspiring athletes train and how professional teams are built.


The 1981 San Francisco 49ers under Bill Walsh turned football around for coaches and prospective players everywhere.  With only the West Coast Offense in mind, Walsh developed a defensive line that consisted of an odd mix of rookies and veterans.  The ’81 49ers depended on defensemen, Fred Dean, Carlton Williamson, Ronnie Lott, and Eric Wright.  All headed up by a young, specialized offensive line of Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Randy Cross, and Charle Young.  The four championships won by the 49ers in the 1980s spurred young athletes everywhere to train with the goal of agility, strategic comprehension, and exceptional catching ability.  The ideal qualities of just large, strong, and brute strength were no longer viable in a successful team, a team now needed the likes of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, quick, intelligent, and lithe.


When referring to the map below, please click the full screen option in the top right hand corner to navigate.  As you observe the map,  you can see that that is just the beginning of the movement of the West Coast Offense.  Seeing its success and obvious results, teams across the NFL began adopting the WCO and developing offensive variations of the popular strategy.  Teams that have utilized West Coast Offense in the late 20th to early 21st century are of course the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Browns.  Not to mention the countless number of college football teams that implement WCO to train specialized quarterbacks for the demands of an NFL offensive line.

To give perspective as to how successful the centralized offensive strategy is in football history, let’s observe the strategies of the Super Bowl Champions between 1981-2000.  12 of the 19 teams that won the Super Bowl between 1981 and 2000 utilized West Coast Offense or depended on a varied offensive strategy.


So it’s pretty obvious that a strong offensive strategy coupled with strong athletes guarantees a Super Bowl Ring.  There’s no argument about whether or not the West Coast Offense worked or whether it is a good or bad strategy. It was good, and it worked.  That is a common and accepted theory.  The argument here is how all the events of Bill Walsh’s journey through the NFL, the 49er’s 1980s Super Bowl run, and the continued success of the coaching tree has developed the modern athlete and the game as we see it today.


It’s safe to say that we can separate football into two distinct eras.  In the early years of the NFL the game was dominated by man-against-man styles of north and south running games.  The league was centered around the workhorse runningback; players like Walter Payton, Jim Brown, and Earl Campbell personified the bloody-nosed, iron man football player.  In the 80’s and 90’s, the game was changed by the introduction of a more wide-open approach, relying more heavily on the coach and his quarterback.


Bill Walsh’s scheme relied heavily on quick decision making and delegation of responsibilities on the field.  In team meetings, he trusted Joe Montana so much, that he never said his name when outlining his responsibilities, while making sure to designate every other players’ roles.  This style soon spread to John Elway in Denver, Brett Favre in Green Bay, and Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle, all three making appearances in the Super Bowl.


There is no doubt that the relationship between the head coach and the franchise quarterback is the determining factor behind a team’s success in today’s NFL.  Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan has failed miserably because of the lack of ability to trust Sanchez and his decision-making on the field.  On the contrary, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have made hall of fame careers based on being able to make their own calls on the field.  Their head coaches centered their teams around them, and found success, ending up with 7 Super Bowl appearances in the 2000’s.


The wide open passing game that we see on TV every Sunday is a direct result of Bill Walsh’s success and his revolutionary concepts combining the quick passing game and the mobile quarterback.  The shift in offensive philosophy is directly correlated with not only his success in San Francisco, but the success of his disciples in the following decades.




Around the League: Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III. (2012, December). Retrieved from
ESPN. (2012, December). Retrieved from Wikipedia Commons:
Movement of West Coast Offense. (2012, December). Retrieved from Scribble Maps:
NFL. (2012, December). Retrieved from Wikipedia Commons:
Sports Illustrated. (2012, December). Retrieved from Wikipedia Commons:
The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty. (2008). New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks.

Week 10 – Feltron Reports

Posted on November 1st, 2012 in Uncategorized by mtran19

Nicholas Felton has redefined the definitions of map and history with the Feltron Annual Reports.

Felton with an annual report

Merriam Webster defines map as a noun:

a : a representation usually on a flat surface of the whole or a part of an area
b : a representation of the celestial sphere or a part of it

This definition implies a representation of something geographical or of a location. But Felton defies this by creating maps centered around obscure images in the context of maps. For example, in the 2009 Feltron Report, he is able to create maps detailing what food and beverage he has consumed over the past year and the frequency in which he did so, by utilizing shade distribution to denote frequency and consumption location. What’s even more impressive is that Felton uses similar charts to observe intangible things, such as his mood over time and the intensity of the mood, also found in the 2009 report. In a larger context, if everyone decided to conduct their own Feltron report, a million conclusions could be made about the human race. We could chart different trends such as food popularity, moods across the seasons, correlation between annual events and the average mood of Americans, comparison of average happiness between countries, the possibilities are endless. By designing the Feltron Report, Nicholas Felton is evolving the way we look at history. It is no longer just a record of important events, but an observation of pure existence.

West Coast Offense Timeline

Posted on October 23rd, 2012 in Uncategorized by mtran19

Research Question

Posted on September 10th, 2012 in Uncategorized by mtran19

When was West Coast Offense developed in the NFL? How did that affect the play of the San Francisco 49ers?


Posted on September 6th, 2012 in Uncategorized by mtran19


Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer

Glitch, an animator from Georgia, also known as the underdog of Season 9, is the most overrated contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. The show advocates the growth of dancers through knowledge of many different styles. Cyrus is the epitome of what SYTYCD wants to advertise, a dancer who has not been technically trained, but is still able to learn and have a flourishing career. Week after week the judges praise him for his ability to pick up dances quickly despite his lack of training.

Here’s the rub. HE’S REALLY NOT THAT GOOD. Cyrus was blessed with a few things at the beginning of the season that facilitated his journey on the show

  1. Being partnered with Eliana Girard, the world class ballet dancer who was trained at Joffrey and Alvin Ailey.
  2. Getting easier routines like hip-hop and broadway more frequently than anyone else in the series.
  3. Having choreographers cater to him with less difficult movement, because of his lack of technique.

Not to mention that, if another contestant danced the same style, they would be held to different standards and commended less on their effort despite the difficult choreography they had to deal with, as opposed to Cyrus’ two sashays across the stage.

The only thing memorable about him is his first audition, which was too much of the same thing, for too long a period of time.

There are various dancers who have been eliminated from the show this season, that deserved to be in the final over Cyrus. In no particular order…

WEEK 2 – Underpinnings of the Web

Posted on September 3rd, 2012 in Uncategorized by mtran19

As shown in the introduction of Digital History and in our discussion from last class, many scholars and students argue that the internet is unstable and vulnerable, and therefore unreliable.  Chapter 2 of Cohen and Rosenzweig’s Digital History, talks about this common misconception.  People compare the internet to its ancient predecessor, the book, claiming that because it’s not tangible, it’s susceptible to slip into irrelevance.  But these same people have a notion that the internet is a black hole, where knowledge gravitates to and becomes lost to us forever.

Cohen and Rosenzweig made an important observation about the web that makes the argument of classroom vs technological revolution obsolete.  That the internet, specifically webpages, along with our interaction with them, are designed after tangible things in life like libraries and filing systems.  The reading makes a note that information isn’t necessarily lost, once in cyberspace, it is just on standby till recalled, like a memory, or the old dusty encyclopedia that no picks up until their paper is due tomorrow morning.  Servers become public libraries that we check out websites from.  And HTML becomes keywords we use to categorize fiction from non fiction.  The very things that scholars fear will overturn our fragile learning system, is actually an improvement on it.  We based the large internet on an old organizing and learning system, but also managed to increase its efficiency.  That is a testament to neither the web or the book, but rather the human’s drive for more knowledge.

That being said, I would like to increase my own knowledge on a couple of topics this semester, including the history of the NHL or the development of the West Coast offense, specifically on the San Francisco 49ers.


Posted on August 29th, 2012 in Uncategorized by mtran19

Welcome to my blog for HIST 390! My name is Mary and I am a freshman at George Mason University. I am a communications major, who unfortunately, has no computer skills outside of Facebook and Twitter. So hopefully this class will be a great learning experience! Hope you enjoy the posts and I can’t wait to read your feedback. Thank you!