“The Offense That Even Belichick Had Trouble Stopping”: Peyton Manning Reintroduces Bill Belichick’s Rival Who Gave GOAT Coach Sleepless Nights

Published 06/23/2023, 4:11 PM EDT

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Bill Belichick has cemented his position as one of the greatest coaches to ever enter the game of football, if not the greatest ever. Having secured 6 Super Bowls as the HC of the New England Patriots over the course of his 23 years with the team, Belichick has revolutionalized coaching as a whole in his career. But even the best coaches have their kryptonite. 

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In a 2020 episode of Peyton Manning’s debut ESPN+ series, ‘Peyton’s Places’, the HOF QB revealed the one coach who contested the mastermind of the mighty Belichick. On the episode, Manning set out to talk about some of the greatest coaching minds in football history and landed upon the one coach that even Belichick’s specialization in defenses couldn’t handle. 

The formidable rival that gave Bill Belichick sleepless nights

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Discussing some of the greatest coaches in the history of the league, Manning reintroduced the legendary San Diego Chargers HC Don Coryell. Coryell masterminded one of the greatest offenses in the history of the game. His offensive philosophy was centered around a pass-heavy spread offense that emphasized vertical routes and stretched opposing defenses to their breaking point. This offensive approach became famously known as “Air Coryell,” and it quickly became a nightmare for defenses throughout the league.

Talking of defenses, what many may not know is that Bill Belichick served as the defensive assistant for the New York Giants for nearly 12 seasons between 1979-1990. With his role catered towards crafting the team’s defense, Belichick was amongst the many coaches losing sleep trying to stop Coryell’s supercharged Chargers. As Manning best detailed in his introduction for the legendary coach, “Meet Don Coryell, the coach behind the offense that even Belichick had trouble stopping in the early 80s.”

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The high-flying aerial assault orchestrated by Coryell and executed by his QB Dan Fouts and his receiving corps proved to be an enigma that Belichick struggled to solve. Years after his retirement, however, the impact of Coryell continues to live on in the game. 

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The incredible impact of Don Coryell’s coaching

Peyton Manning’s admiration for Coryell’s offense speaks volumes about the impact it had on the game. Even though he passed away in 2010, Coryell left a lasting impact on the game, not only with his legacy but with his philosophy. To date, most pass-heavy spread offenses that dominate today’s game draw direct inspiration from Coryell’s Chargers offense, continuing to bamboozle coaches decades after his retirement. 

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As a testament to his revolutionary offensive mind, Don Coryell’s long-awaited induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is set to take place this summer. The honor is a fitting tribute to the man who forever altered the way football is played. Fittingly, Dan Fouts is set to induct the coach into the HOF, the QB who shared the stage with Coryell for nine seasons, crafting their legacies together. 

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Written by:

Armaan Gupta

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Armaan Gupta is an NFL Writer at EssentiallySports. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Mass Media and Communication from a prestigious university. Gupta's love for football spans different leagues, from NFL to College Football to XFL.
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Edited by:

Hitesh Nigam

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