Since the hiring of Vince Lombardi in 1959, arguably the most impactful move by the Green Bay Packers was implementing the West Coast Offense in 1992.
The pass-happy West Coast Offense was the brainchild of former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh. Walsh developed it while on Paul Brown’s Cincinnati Bengals staff, and had great success with it as the 49ers head coach from 1979-88. He passed the system on to a number of his assistant coaches who went on to use it elsewhere.
Mike Holmgren was one of those assistants. He was a 49ers’ assistant coach from 1986-91, and offensive coordinator during those final three years.
When the Packers brought in Holmgren as head coach in 1992, he brought the West Coast Offense with him. It’s been in Green Bay ever since, under Holmgren (1992-98), Ray Rhodes (1999), Mike Sherman (2000-05), and Mike McCarthy (2006-16). Five of Holmgren’s original Packers assistant coaches have become NFL head coaches, further spreading the system.
In the 24 years since 1991, the Packers have had only two losing seasons (2005 and 2008), and they’ve gone to the postseason 19 times.
No current NFL coach has been running the West Coast Offense for the same team nearly as long as McCarthy, who is embarking on his 11th season in Green Bay.
And let’s credit Ron Wolf, whose first major decision upon being hired as GM in 1991 was to bring Holmgren and the West Coast Offense to Green Bay. That choice, among others, put him in the Hall of Fame.
By one account, there are currently 13 NFL teams that predominantly use Walsh’s offensive philosophy and playbook.
Happy 25th anniversary to the West Coast Offense in Titletown!