Don Coryell: The Father of the Vertical Passing Game


Don Coryell, a trailblazing offensive coordinator in the NFL, was a visionary play-caller known for his revolutionary "Air Coryell" offense. Beyond his prowess in play calling, Coryell was a master of decision making. In this article, we explore the coaching journey of Don Coryell, emphasizing his profound influence on the league.

Early Career and Innovation

Don Coryell's coaching career began in the collegiate ranks, where he displayed a knack for creative play calling. However, it was in the NFL that he would truly make his mark. Coryell's vision was clear: a high-octane passing game built on vertical routes, challenging conventional football wisdom.

The "Air Coryell" Offense

At the heart of Don Coryell's legacy was his "Air Coryell" offense. This system stressed vertical passing and innovative play calling, where quarterbacks threw deep passes downfield with remarkable precision. Decision making was paramount in executing this offense, with Coryell's system requiring quarterbacks to make quick choices based on defensive coverages.

Fostering Quarterback Excellence

Coryell's emphasis on the vertical passing game was instrumental in the development of exceptional quarterbacks. He understood that for his system to succeed, quarterbacks needed to possess excellent decision-making skills and a deep understanding of the offense. Coryell worked closely with quarterbacks, refining their decision-making processes and play-calling abilities.

Legacy and Influence

Don Coryell's influence on the NFL is undeniable. He shaped the league's offensive landscape, and his innovative approach to play calling and decision making set the stage for the passing-oriented game we see today. Many modern offensive coordinators draw inspiration from Coryell's pioneering work, recognizing the value of vertical passing and the significance of quick decision making.

In the realm of NFL offensive coordinators, Don Coryell is celebrated as the father of the vertical passing game. His legacy continues to inspire coaches and quarterbacks alike, reinforcing the importance of innovative play calling and decision making in achieving offensive excellence.

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