Coryell Planted Ravens’ Offensive Roots

The death of Don Coryell casts a shadow over much of the NFL, including Baltimore.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Friday, July 9th, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

Former San Diego Chargers head coach and offensive guru Don Coryell died at the age of 85 last Thursday, July 1.

While Coryell was never directly affiliated with the Ravens, his impact on the game is felt in Baltimore.

Baltimore’s offense is based around Coryell’s creation from the ‘70s and ‘80s, an offense dubbed “Air Coryell.”

“[Our offense] is Don Coryell’s system, no doubt,” Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said in April.

“We’re all just using the system to fit the personnel we have and the climate we have. You don’t run the same system in sunny San Diego that you run in Baltimore.”

Cameron was San Deigo’s offensive coordinator from 2002-2006, learning from those who came before him and forming his own version of the Coryell offense.

In 1983, Ravens Senior Offensive Assistant Al Saunders got his NFL coaching start as a wide receivers coach directly under Coryell.

Saunders absorbed the system and became one of its most accomplished disciples, along with former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs and current San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner.

Saunders enjoys waxing about his time with Coryell. He remembered that Coryell didn’t have a playbook, but rather taught everything verbally.

If he did put it on paper, Saunders said, “it would have been 7,000 pages.”

Simply put, the Coryell is a very detail-oriented offense that is a combination of deep and mid-range passing and power running. It typically demands a strong-armed quarterback, at least two deep receiving threats and a grinding inside run game.

To learn more about Coryell and the building blocks of the Ravens’ offense, check out this feature by’s Vic Carucci.

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