Patterico's Pontifications


Don Coryell (1924-2010)

Filed under: Sports — DRJ @ 10:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Don Coryell, a “founding father” of the modern pro football passing game, died today in California. Coryell’s high-power, load-’em-up offenses were exciting in an era when most offenses were pretty dull. I consider Coryell an originator of the West Coast offense that Bill Walsh perfected.

My condolences to his family, and my thanks to Coach Coryell for some great games.


9 Responses to “Don Coryell (1924-2010)”

  1. Father of the West Coast Offense….
    Sid Gillman!
    Don Coryell elevated it to high art.

    AD - RtR/OS! (1ed577)

  2. You’re right. Gillman was responsible for putting timing into the passing game and that, more than anything, is the basis for today’s passing game.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  3. Coryell’s offense was far more down-the-field pass oriented than either Gillman’s (who does deserve props as the groundbreaker) or Walsh’s (which used short yardage passes as a variant of the running game to set up the longer routes).

    Coryell was all about the risk-reward ratio. If a ten-play drive earns one score, and ten long pass routes lead also to one score, they are essentially the same. Since his day, the rules have changed to benefit passing offenses. Coryell would have had a field day every Sunday today.

    Adjoran (ec6a4b)

  4. That’s back when the Chargers were fun to root for.

    Andy (b63f79)

  5. #3 is right.

    Walsh and Coryell are on opposite spectrums in terms of philo.

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  6. Ah Coryell’s teams were fun to watch. I was a freshman at San Diego State the year that Coryell came to the Aztecs. The previous coach believed football was meant to promote character–didn’t care about winning, so got kicked up to Athletic Director. I expected the Aztecs to lose based on past performance. I think Coryell went something like 36 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie for the four years I was there.

    Then I got to see the Fouts Coryell combination with the Chargers. Coryell drew up the routes and the time of arrival; Fouts would stand in the gates of hell and deliver the pass to the exact spot on the exact second. Woe betide the receiver who wasn’t there when the ball arrived. I think the receiver was more afraid to go back to the huddle to face Fouts than he feared getting tackled.

    Coryell was also a great teacher of other coaches. He belongs in the Hall of Fame.

    Mike Myers (3c9845)

  7. Air Coryell was truly exciting football.
    He had all the pieces he needed at one spot, at one time, but he couldn’t win a Super Bowl,
    which seem to be won with defense, which never seemed to factor into the equation at “The Murph”.

    AD - RtR/OS! (688ffe)

  8. Thank you, Mr. Coryell, for trading John Jefferson to the Packers.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  9. Guys are right about Sid Gillman inventing the modern passing game. I was associated with him when it seemed every coach in the league was asking for advice. His phone never stopped ringing. His only failing in so far as coaching went was that he couldn’t instill discipline in those players who were more interested in pain pills than offense. Had drugs been banned back then who knows what his record might have been?

    Howard Veit (d0000b)

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