In 1997, I learned how to develop expert play passes from Bill Walsh, the Hall of Fame coach of the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, I give him credit for the key insights to installing jet sweep play passes in my offense. We were having dinner at Del Frisco’s steakhouse in Dallas, Texas and I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions. One question I asked him was, “What is the single best tool to take advantage of a disciplined defense?” His answer was the play pass.
Meeting the Genius
Coach Walsh had just retired from the 49ers and he was a big fan of American Football Quarterly (Today it’s called, American Football Monthly). Through dialogue with my publisher, Barry Terranova (pictured above with Bill Walsh) we were able to hire him as Senior Editor and technical adviser. What then ensued for me was access to one of the brightest minds in American football history. He was gracious in answering so many questions about the game. From running an organization to creating an offensive system and the insight, what he shared completely changed the way I thought about being a football coach.
To say that Coach Walsh was a student of the game, is to put it mildly – he was a consummate professor. Coach Walsh was an encyclopedia of football knowledge. He had studied and developed systems of organization that were second to none. He was notorious for being very inquisitive and asking great questions. If you haven’t read his seminal book, Finding the Winning Edge, I highly recommend it as must-read material.
Our conversation at Del Frisco’s led me to make a trip to the west coast to gain insights on developing a tool to take advantage of disciplined defenses.
What follows is an organized compilation of my notes from a weekend with Bill Walsh.