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Remembering Dick Vermeil’s Record-Breaking Offense

Remembering Dick Vermeil’s Record-Breaking Offense


The volume of plays and the intricate shifts were possible because the offense employed a simple language that permitted the players to play fast.

Fast was first when it came to offense, in Vermeil’s mind, whether it was approaching the line of scrimmage, shifting and moving, it was intended to create a distortion for the defense.

The system had its roots in the offenses of Don Coryell and Ernie Zampese with later refinement courtesy of Norv Turner and Mike Martz. Following Coryell’s stamp, the Chiefs would one day run 1,089 plays over a season (2004) in which almost all were called with some sort of movement or motion.

The basic concepts dated back to Hall of Fame coach Sid Gilman, who had served as an advisor to Vermeil in Philadelphia, and by the time Vermeil retired from the game for the final time, the Chargers, Raiders, Cardinals, Washington and, of course Vermeil’s old team, the Rams, were running versions of the same offense.

In his early meetings with the team, Vermeil laid out exactly how he intended to play a game. He believed keeping a game so close that one play or one mistake on offense could beat you was no way to run an NFL offense. His teams were in an attack mode at all times, looking to score repeatedly. Then, late in the game and once he had a secure lead, he would look to run the football as the game and clock ran down.

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