The Basics of the Coryell Offense by Edweirdo. Thanks Eye_Patch for the info on Sid Gillman! posted on 2005/05/05 Raiders head coach Norv Turner runs an offensive system known as the Coryell offense, which Don Coryell devised and brought to the NFL as head coach of the San Diego Chargers in the late 1970s. Simply put, the Coryell offense is the antithesis of the West Coast offense ("WCO"). In recent years, the explosive offenses of the Rams and the Chiefs have brought the Coryell offense back into the spotlight of the NFL. This article discusses: How the Coryell offense differs from the West Coast offense A brief history of the Coryell offense What are the personnel requirements for the Coryell offense What are the advantages of the Coryell offense How the Coryell offense differs from the West Coast offense The WCO has the following characteristics: It is a "ball-control" offense, predicated on the ability of the QB to achieve a high completion percentage The receivers often run precise short-to-intermediate routes and a lot of crossing routes and slants. The receivers are expected to pick up yards after the catch The QB takes more 3- and 5-step drops as opposed to 7-step drops When the QB and WRs are on the same page, it can be difficult to disrupt the rhythm of the offense It relies heavily on the receiving skills of backs coming out of the backfield The Coryell offense has the following characteristics: It is a "stretch-the-field vertically" offense, predicated on the complementary effects of throwing deep and running the football The receivers often run intermediate-to-long routes The QB takes more 5- and 7-step drops It emphasizes maximum pass protection, to protect the QB until the receivers get open downfield It is committed to the power running game. The running game opens up opportunities for big downfield completions, and vice versa. Mike Martz, in an interview with Dr. Z of CNN/SI said: That's another thing that's critical to the system. Power running. You've got to be able to run the ball when you go to a three-wide receiver set, and you've got to run with power. By that I mean behind zone blocking, which is a big departure from the San Francisco system. Theirs was man-blocking, with a lot of cut-blocks and misdirection. Ours is straight power. Not many people realize this, but if we hadn't have gotten Marshall we were prepared to go with another excellent zone-blocking runner, Robert Holcombe. It takes a certain type, a guy who can run with power, who's good at picking his way through. Stephen Davis is doing that in Washington now, and that's a big reason why their offense is so good...The good thing about zone-block running is that you can keep pounding away. You don't have the negative yardage plays. A brief history of the Coryell offense The Coryell offense didn't start with Coryell. Sid Gillman was the innovator of the vertical game back in the 1960s. Many members of Gillman's staff, including Al Davis and **** Vermiel have been adherents to the vertical game ever since. Coryell adapted Gillman's ideas into the system that now bears his name. There are several notable implementers of the Coryell offense in the league today: Joe Gibbs in WAS, Mike Martz in STL, Norv Turner in OAK, and **** Vermeil in KC. Many of these coaches are connected in the coaching tree, starting with Gillman or Coryell. Gibbs served on Coryell's staff in SD and brought the system to Washington. Turner served on Ernie Zampese's staff on the LA Rams and brought the system to Dallas. Martz served on Turner's staff in Washington. What are the personnel requirements for the Coryell offense The personnel requirements are significantly different between the Coryell O and WCO. In the Coryell O: QBs must be able to throw deep with accuracy. They are typically pocket passers with big arms. Examples of solid Coryell QBs are the Cowboys' HOFer Troy Aikman (6-4 220) and former Ram Kurt Warner (6-2 200) WRs must be able to stretch the field. The name of the game is speed and separation. By contrast, the WCO favors physical possession receivers, such as Jerry Rice. Examples of solid Coryell WRs are the Rams' Torry Holt (6-0 195) and the Raiders' Randy Moss (6-4 205) RBs carry a heavy load and tend to have good power. Norv Turner in particular has preferred to feed the ball to a feature back (Emmitt Smith in DAL, Terry Allen in WAS, Stephen Davis in WAS, LaDainian Tomlinson in SD, Ricky Williams in MIA). So the Raiders went out in FA and signed former Jet LaMont Jordan (5-10 230) to a big 5 year / $27.5 MM deal to be that workhorse RB. Examples of solid Coryell RBs are former Redskin John Riggins (6-2 230), former Cowboy Emmitt Smith (5-9 215), and the Chiefs' Priest Holmes (5-9 213) TEs tend to be strong blockers; they are relied upon heavily in pass protection and in paving the way for RBs in the ground game. In general, the WCO favors TEs with receiving over blocking skills (e.g. the Jets' Doug Jolley) whereas the Coryell O favors the reverse, although obviously a TE who can do both can fit into any system. This explains, in part, why 2004 rookie 7th rounder Courtney Anderson (6-6 270), with his size and ability to run-block, was able to leap-frog former 2nd rounders Doug Jolley (6-4 250) and Teyo Johnson on the Raiders depth chart OL tend to be big and physical compared to their WCO counterparts. Some WCO teams have gotten by with smaller OL (e.g. the Niners in the 1990s and the Broncos of recent years), because the linemen are able to block at angles and only need to maintain pass protection for a short period of time. Coryell OL are road graders in the running game, but they must also pass protect on drawn-out deep passing plays. Examples of solid Coryell OLs are the Cowboys' massive (at the time) championship OL in the 1990s and the Chiefs' OL in recent years Arguably the best Coryell offense ever was the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" team in 1999. They had an awesome set of wideouts (Bruce, Holt, Hakim, and Proehl), a strong OL, and Faulk and Warner in their prime. The Raiders have assembled the ingredients to run the Coryell system effectively: a strong-armed accurate deep thrower in Collins; 4 excellent deep threats with Moss, Porter, Curry, and Gabriel at WR; an explosive power back in Jordan; a power-blocking TE in Anderson; and a big, talented offensive line. What are the advantages of the Coryell offense Run correctly, it is simply an explosive offense, capable of big plays at any time. It puts opposing defenses in a bind: does the defense defend the deep ball, thereby weakening its run support, or does it defend the run, thereby leaving itself vulnerable to big plays downfield? There are some folks, including Al Davis, who feel that defenses have caught up with the WCO, esp with systems such as the Dungy Cover 2 defense. In Dungy's system, the WRs are bumped from their timing routes by press coverage by the CBs, the LBs are fast and have strong coverage ability, and the DL is quick and disruptive. These elements all counter strengths of the WCO.