Know the Staff: Offensive Coordinator Matt Weiss

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Matt Weiss is the new Co-OC in Ann Arbor and will be calling plays alongside Sherrone More. What can you expect with Weiss leading the attack?

Michigan hired Matt Weiss a year ago in a somewhat surprising and low-key move. Michigan’s coaching staff had been in place for weeks when LB coach Brian Jean-Mary decided to take the same position at the University of Tennessee. After pursuing a few names to coach linebackers, Harbaugh decided to take a different step and bring Matt Weiss on the staff. George Helow would coach linebackers, Ron Bellamy would move to safeties, and Weiss would join the staff as quarterbacks coach. But everyone knew he was going to do much more than that.

Weiss said a move to Ann Arbor had been an “on and off discussion for a while.”

Shortly after being hired, he told Jon Jansen:

“I just felt that I had the chance to do something special here. Also, I think at any point in life, whether it’s in your (personal) life or in your professional life, there’s It’s always good to step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and do something different.”

Jim Harbaugh knew Matt Weiss from his time at Stanford (2005-08) and, of course, from his 12 years of training under his brother John Harbaugh with the Baltimore Ravens. Weiss was a Swiss army knife for the Ravens, serving in multiple roles on both sides of the ball during his first 10 seasons in Baltimore. It has become something of a secret weapon from 2018.

That season, Weiss was an assistant coach at WR, but more importantly, he became their football strategy coordinator. Weiss would bring analysis to the Ravens’ game plans and work on in-game storylines throughout the week. It’s the impetus to bring Weiss to Ann Arbor.

Weiss’ impact in terms of in-game analysis and strategy was apparent almost immediately with the Wolverines. In previous seasons, Michigan had struggled with the effectiveness of their offense. Everything from replacement packages, game calls, and clock management. Throughout the season, Michigan has seen offensive growth. He was playing more games than ever and became incredibly efficient. There was a tangible rhythm to the play calls and a lot of the in-game decisions felt like they had already been made. That’s because they had, with Weiss’ strategic planning all week.

With offensive coordinator Josh Gattis deciding to take the same job with the Miami Hurricanes, a promotion for Matt Weiss seemed obvious. Weiss spent the 2021 season as a QB coach and Michigan’s version of football strategy coordinator. He was already heavily involved in the offensive game plan and brought experience coaching wide receivers and running backs. Joe Moore Award winner Sherrone Moore was of course already co-offensive coordinator, so the question was what would a team of Moore and Weiss look like?

The truth is that in explaining the roles and functions of the new offensive personnel, Harbaugh essentially admitted what we already knew about 2021, the offense was and would continue to be a group effort. You could see the fingerprints of the various coaches all over the attack. Anyone who watched Oklahoma Sooners football in the 2000s recognized some of the blocking patterns Moore implemented with the offensive line. Michigan fans could see Mike Hart’s patience and ball safety practiced in Haskins, Corum and Edwards. Using multiple tight ends and using All as a true H-Back was not “speed in space”.

“Sherrone is really going to be dedicated to coaching the offensive line, which is a huge undertaking,” Jim Harbaugh told Jansen in a recent In The Trenches podcast. “But I think he’s a very gifted coach who will be able to coach the offensive line, plan the running game with Mike Hart and Grant Newsome.” So those three will continue to run the running game, while Weiss and wide receiver coach Ron Bellamy will plan the passing game.

“Matt will call him. There’s a call sheet that we all go through with a fine-tooth comb. We train him, we meet on it, and then we train him again. And by the time we get to the game, he is indicated what we are going to call.”

Matt Weiss is no slouch in the racing game either. In 2019, alongside his role as an analyst, Weiss became the Ravens RB coach. The Ravens would go on to break the NFL’s all-time single-season record with 3,296 rushing yards. Lamar Jackson would win the NFL MVP title thanks in part to his 1,206 rushing yards. Mark Ingram had a career year with a franchise-record 15 touchdowns. The following season, JK Dobbins would lead the NFL in YPC at 6.0.

Needless to say, Weiss’ impact was immediate and dramatic.

So the offensive staff won’t function much differently than Harbaugh’s previous staffs, with Matt Weiss at the center. Besides his previous experience with offense, his focus on analysis and strategy in the game, his role as a caller, Weiss also coaches the most debated position on the 2021 Wolverines, quarterbacks. Weiss has raved about Cade McNamara since arriving in Ann Arbor and hasn’t shied away from talking about the talent of JJ McCarthy. McCarthy, a huge Weiss fan, also once said, “Genius is perhaps an understatement.” Finding the right formula at QB will be Weiss’ most important task.

Michigan is in good hands with Weiss. Many fans may not know much about him, but I assure you that you have already seen his impact. The question will be, as Weiss steps into the most visible role of his career, which is no longer a secret weapon, can he continue to grow and take Michigan to new heights? The defending Big Ten champions enter the 2022 season with one of the highest returning productions in the nation, it’s a loaded group. With team continuity and Weiss helping to lead the way, I think we’re going to see the most explosive offense Ann Arbor has ever had.

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