For more information on who the great Don Coryell was, click here on a good read. It’s a sacrilege he’s not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Maybe next season.
For a quick recap, Coryell was an aggressive coach who favored a pass first philosophy that helped the run game. He hated conservative dink and dunk offenses and wanted to force opposing teams to play catch-up. Since then, the Coryell system has undergone a few transformations.
There are three really tough throws to make in the NFL: the back shoulder corner fade, the deep out route and the comeback. They’re high risk, high reward passes that can win games and dictate the tempo and defense coverages. Make them and you’ve an offense with swagger.
In a high flying offense, they’re critical. They also help the run game because of the distance they’re thrown, they keep defenders from loading the box. (having a defense play close to the line of scrimmage)
Many go routes (fades) are easy for QB’s. Some only require the QB to launch up a rainbow pass in the general area of the WR and let him look back and adjust to the ball. Shake his defender, like a jump ball in basketball. It’s more about what the WR can do than the QB because he’s running while looking backward to see the ball coming.
However, the back shoulder fade means the WR is blind. If he’s running towards the corner of the end zone, the ball is coming over the top of his outside shoulder. Away from the QB and the DB. That pass needs accuracy and the right touch, plus velocity. That route requires the ball to be thrown at least 12 yards.
Unlike the post or even a straight fade route, the QB can’t just lean back and toss one up. These aren’t high arcing rainbows requiring more touch on the ball. The one good thing about these are if you’re good, no DB is getting it. It’s thrown on the other side of him and dropping down in the bucket.
It doesn’t take as much courage as the out route because usually these are thrown closer to midfield or farther. This means if intercepted, he has to turn around and run the other way allowing the offense more time to stop him.
The out route requires timing and rhythm with the WR. It’s thrown in anticipation and has to be bang on the money. It is thrown in the intermediate range, 12-15 yards. On third down want to see who has guts? See who throws these. They are a staple in a hurry up drive. It’s aggressive and stops the clock so another play can get off.
Finally, there’s the comeback, where the good and bad separate. QBs are judged on these. Why? Because once again, the QB is throwing the ball at least 12 yards, throwing in anticipation, and in a small space. On the rope throws. And usually, like the two above, the WR doesn’t have the time or space to adjust to a poor throw.
These are dangerous because if the coverage can read the play and jump in front of this pass, he’s already facing his end zone and not a lot of people between him a pick six. This is a pass the QB absolutely can’t telegraph and can’t throw poorly. Want to see a QB who tries and completes them? Your franchise guy who is kept a very long time.
The easiest are flats, slants, digs and curls. While a flat is thrown towards the sideline, it’s a short pass. The RB, TE or slot aren’t going but a yard or two before making a cut to the sideline. These are meat and potatoes plays for the big TE who can use his body to shield the pass and for speedy slots and RBs who can get open quickly. Dink and dunk heaven throws.
Slant is also a short pass, a good friend for the same as above. A curl is the opposite of a comeback, the WR is now facing the QB, same for digs, he’s in open field. This gives the receiver more opportunity to adjust to the ball.
Bottom line: the less a receiver is looking at the QB to make adjustments, the harder the pass. Those thrown beyond ten yards, but not a jump ball where the WR can see the ball coming well, are the hardest of all.
When people talk about arm talent, that’s what they’re referring to. Making those throws.