TOJ Film Room – Chan Gailey’s, Offense Part 1

Mike Nolan steps into the TOJ Film Room for part one of looking at Chan Gailey’s offense…

The New York Jets have officially announced Chan Gailey as the team’s next Offensive Coordinator. This may seem like a strange hire. Gailey hasn’t coached since 2012 and his Head Coaching stints were nothing, if not underwhelming.  Even so, many around the league consider Gailey to be a strong offensive mind. TOJ’s Dalbin Osorio took a look at Gailey’s career here. Today, Mike Nolan dives into the film to see what Jets fans can expect from Gailey’s system. In Part 1, Mike takes a look at Gailey’s overall offensive philosophy…


The Jets are in the middle of a cold streak of Offensive Coordinators. Watching Marty Mornhinweg’s offense the past two seasons was equally as frustrating as his two predecessors. One major gripe with Martyball is that there didn’t seem to be a fundamental philosophy or system behind what he was doing. He would go away from things when they were working (ahem, Chris Ivory). He would immediately start digging in his bag of tricks when he was on the goal line. And I don’t know how many 3 and outs we had to watch where he was spread on 1st Down, Double Tight on 2nd down, and in the Wildcat on 3rd Down. On the surface, Chan Gailey seems to be of a different mindset.

Many have mentioned Gailey’s ability to adapt to his players, running a variety of “systems” at his many stops in both College and the Pros. More recently, his system has followed a basic philosophy to get the most out of his players. That is to spread out, often with 4 WRs, to identify and take advantage of mismatches created by space and personnel in both the pass and running game. This was most prevalent at Georgia Tech and Buffalo and may have started to develop as far back as his days with Pittsburgh in the 1990s.

The Spread Offense

The basic concept of the Spread Offense is to dictate personnel to the defense and make offensive reads easier based on how the defense responds. Simply put, if teams decide to play base personnel against a 4 WR set, then the offense generally has an advantage through the air. If the defense decides to play a sub package with more defensive backs, the offense generally has an advantage running the football.  The offense can find personnel mismatches or they can identify alignment mismatches.  Whether its the Air Raid, Run and Shoot, or Spread Option offenses, this is the basic concept that spread offenses use to pile up points.

Some would consider Chan Gailey somewhat of an innovator in that he fully embraced the spread as his base offense. Most teams in the NFL used some spread formations and concepts, but generally opted to maintain Pro-Style formations as their base due to the speed in the NFL. Gailey was one of the rare NFL coaches who chose to run the Spread as his base formation and proved that it could be successful.

In the first screenshot, the Bills line up in a Spread set with 3 Receivers to the top of the screen. The Raiders are in a nickel package with 2 Deep Safeties and only 6 in the box.

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Tight End Scott Chandler motions into the backfield. The Raiders do not adjust and keep 6 in the box. With Chandler in the backfield, the Bills have 6 blockers. The Raiders are out flanked inside, a clear advantage for Fred Jackson and the run game.

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Against the Patriots, the Bills are in a 5 WR set with Fred Jackson split out to the bottom of the screen. This is something Gailey does a lot of with his backs. He split out both Jackson and CJ Spiller often and would have them on the field together a lot. Notice how far off the corner is playing. As soon as Fitzpatrick sees blitz coming, he should identify Man Coverage. As far off as the corner was playing, Fitzpatrick knows he should have Jackson wide open on the underneath route. The Bills put the Patriots in a bad defense and they took advantage by putting a playmaker in space for the long touchdown.

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In both clips Gailey took advantage of mismatches by alignment for huge gains. Sometimes it is by play call and with tendencies they are seeing from the defense. Other times, it could be from changes on the fly based on how the defense lines up. Because of the spacing of the offense, advantages are much easier to identify both on the field and from the sideline. This is where Gailey wins as an Offensive Coordinator. Instead of doing things with no rhyme or reason, he is going to take what the defense gives him as often as he can.

Check back in next time when I take a look at  Gailey’s rushing attack…