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San Diego Chargers Coach Don Coryell dies at 85

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" target="_blank">Don Coryell, the San Diego Chargers coach who became an architect of pro football's modern passing game with his spectacular offense known as Air Coryell, died Thursday at a hospital in La Mesa, Calif. He was 85.

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Don Coryell, left, with Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts in 1985, had a record of 111-83-1 with San Diego and St. Louis.





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St. Louis Cardinals' coach Don Coryell is carried off the field after his Cardinals defeated the New York Giants' 26-14 to win the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference in 1974.



His death was announced by the Chargers.

As coach from 1978 to 1986, Coryell led the Chargers to the postseason four times. His teams played twice in the American Football Conference championship game.

Featuring the future Hall of Famers Dan Fouts at quarterback, Charlie Joiner at wide receiver and Kellen Winslow at tight end, along with running back Chuck Muncie, Coryell's Chargers were usually atop the National Football League passing statistics.

"In our offense we attack the entire field," Joiner told The New York Times in 1983. "A team might be able to stop our running game or our tight end. But they can't defend the entire field. What we have been able to do is throw farther and farther down field."

Fouts said Air Coryell forced changes in defensive alignments throughout the N.F.L., with defenders coming in or going out in passing situations.

"They started substituting nickel and dime backs, situational pass rushers, faster defensive linemen, taking out safeties that couldn't run and putting in an extra corner," he told USA Today last winter. "No question, Don profoundly affected both sides of the ball."

The Chargers' passing game featured a quick and accurate read of the defense by Fouts and then his quick release of the football to counter the pass rush and create mismatches, like a tall receiver on a relatively short defensive back. When a primary receiver was not open, Fouts looked to alternate receivers running routes designed by Coryell, who emphasized precision in having receivers arrive at designated spots in a designated amount of seconds.

Coryell, who was born in Seattle on Oct. 17, 1924, played defensive back for the University of Washington. He coached at Whittier College in California from 1957 to 1959, then created a high-profile football program at San Diego State, where he coached from 1961 to 1972 and posted a record of 104-19-2.

He developed his emphasis on passing while at San Diego State. "We could only recruit a limited number of runners and linemen against schools like U.S.C. and U.C.L.A.," he told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "And there were a lot of kids in Southern California passing and catching the ball."

Coryell was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999 and was the only coach to win at least 100 games in both college and the pros.

He became the head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973 and took them to two divisional titles with an offense led by quarterback Jim Hart before joining the Chargers.

Coryell resigned as the Chargers' coach during the 1986 season after his team posted a 1-7 record. He had an overall record of 111-83-1 during the regular season with the Cardinals and the Chargers.

He is survived by his son, Mike, of Los Gatos, Calif.; his daughter, Mindy Lewis, of San Diego; and three grandchildren. He had been living with both of his children in recent months while in ill health. His wife, Aliisa, died in 2008.

Coryell was not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame but received strong consideration in the 2010 election.

Soon after Coryell left the Chargers, Tom Landry, the Dallas Cowboys' coach and a future Hall of Famer, paid tribute to his innovations.

"When he went to St. Louis he was far ahead of everybody as far as what they did with the ball," Landry told The Los Angeles Times. "When he went to San Diego, he was one of the first real forerunners of the passing game we see today. It was a shame he could never make it to the Super Bowl."


God bless him, guys.

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Coryell shuld be in HOF for his influence on the modern NFL passing game. Sid Luckman coaching with SD Chargers in AFL got that league pass happy,and Coryell did same for NFL.


RIP Coach.

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View PostCoryell shuld be in HOF for his influence on the modern NFL passing game. Sid Luckman coaching with SD Chargers in AFL got that league pass happy,and Coryell did same for NFL.


RIP Coach.


Yep . remember him with the Cards with Jim Hart , Terry Metcalf , Dierdorf Dobler & Co.

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