"I hate the West Coast offense."
That's what former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator and current Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians told SI's Peter King last year.
It would seem that Arians' close friend and former boss, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, feels the same way.
When Arians bolted Indianapolis for the Arizona desert, he was replaced by Stanford University O.C. Pep Hamilton. Hamilton, like his former boss at Stanford, David Shaw, is a "West Coast" guy. The Stanford offense is built around the same principles that the 49ers used in the 80s, and what teams like the Packers and Vikings still use today.
In fact, Andrew Luck himself recently said that Hamilton's new offense is roughly "75%" of the offense they ran at Stanford together.
Chuck Pagano recently told Paul Kuharsky that the Colts new 2013 offense will not "dink and dunk" their way to first downs.
"By no means are we going to be a dink and dunk, pure West Coast, if you will, three-step drop and get the ball out. I’m sure there'll be a little bit of that flavor built in, but we’re still going to take our shots."
On the surface, it looks as if the Colts are transitioning from a "I hate the West Coast" to a "75% of our offense is West Coast, but we don't want to admit it."
If Andrew Luck is saying "75%" of the offense is the Stanford O, then that suggests "dinking and dunking" won't just be flavor built in. It will be the staple of the system.
And why shouldn't it be?
Personally, I loved Arians' system last season in Indy, and I was sorry to see him go to Arizona. However, anyone who doesn't think that Arians' "chunk plays" offense contributed to Luck's 45 sacks in 2012 is simply being delusional. If you are looking for big plays down the field, the quarterback is going to have to hold onto the ball. This invites more sacks, more hits on the QB.
We saw similar hits and sacks with Ben Roethlisberger when he and Arians worked together in Pittsburgh.
However, if a team starts utilizing more three-step drops, more reads that get the ball out of the QB's hands quickly and allowing the receivers to earn yards after the catch, that's pretty much a West Coast offense at its base level.
Luck's completion percentage was 54% last season due in part to Arians wanting him to look down the field more. In 2013, that percentage must go up. What better way to do it than to implement more short patterns and quick throws?
"Dinking and dunking," as it is crudely known.
Based on my own, personal observations, Hamilton's offensive philosophy is NOT like Arians'. How will Pagano accept this philosophy? If Pagano isn't on board with the short passing game that is the bread and butter of a West Coast system - and based on his comments to Kuharsky, he sounds just as unimpressed with the West Coast offense than Arians is - why did he hire Hamilton as his new coordinator?
During training camp, if you are planning to take a trip to Anderson University and watch the Colts rev-up for the 2013 campaign, it might be worth your time to observe just how much "dinking and dunking" the Colts do.