Chicago Sun-Times

Fouts discusses Martz, Coryell and Moore

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Dan Fouts called back and offered some additional insights into a reader question about whether the offense Mike Martz runs is related to the one Tom Moore installed and used with so much success in Indianapolis. Martz is quick to point out that the offense he is bringing to Chicago isn't "his" but the system he learned from former Chargers coach Don Coryell and later refined.

Fouts, who developed into a Hall of Fame quarterback under Coryell, seemed like the best person to ask.

"I don't know to what extent that the basis of the offense is built on the "Air Coryell" system, as far as the numbering, reads and stuff like that," he said. "But there is the same emphasis on getting the ball down the field instead of throwing it laterally. The biggest difference between what Coryell wanted to do and the West Coast offense is that Coryell always stressed to me look deep first because those opportunities don't come along very often. If you have a shot down the field -- and one guy went deep on every play --- look deep first and then look at your shorter receivers."

I asked him how difficult the system will be for Jay Cutler to learn.

"I don't think it's tough at all. But that's just me. I don't know Jay that well. I've only met him a couple times. But he appears to be an intelligent young man who should be able to pick it up and have success with it. The toughest thing is the discipline necessary to make it work. It's a timing-based offense and you have to be disciplined in your drops and reads and get the ball out quickly."

I told Fouts about how during a recent minicamp Cutler seemed uncomfortable throwing to a spot instead of a man, which the offense requires, and how he looked more comfortable doing that during OTAs.

"That's the adjustment that's tough to make. When you have a real strong arm like Jay has you're not forced to anticipate and throw the ball early. When you have a gun like that you rely on waiting to see them open up and getting it to them and in the NFL that gets you in trouble because the reaction time of defenses is so good. That's the one thing I had to learn is the trust of the system to put the ball in a spot and that just takes time and practice."

As for Moore, his offense is based more closely on run-and-shoot type schemes. Moore won two Super Bowl rings while an assistant for Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh. He later became the offensive coordinator for the Lions, which under his watch led the league in total offense in 1995.

He was an ideal fit for the cerebral Manning and the Colts. Rather than using motion, Moore's no-huddle attack relies on the quarterback reading the defense and adjusting accordingly prior to the snap. Oftentimes, it's as simple as Manning using his cadence to make defenses think he's about to snap the ball when in actuality he's just trying to make the defense commit so he can adjust and exploit the defensive play-call.

While Martz runs his base plays out of dozens of different formations, the Colts run most of their plays out of the same formation.

"I just marvel at Peyton's understanding and what he orchestrates at the line of scrimmage," Fouts said. "Tom just doesn't get enough credit for the success he's gotten everywhere he's gone. It's a mystery to me why his name isn't mentioned with the great offensive coordinators of all time."

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Great work Neil:

Thanks for your follow-up, the comments were great. I can't wait to see this offense this year.

My prediction is that it is going to be some hit and miss until mid season at which time it might start to click.

If the defense and special teams are awesome this year, the Bears will be in every game and by the playoffs they could be very dangerous if they take to this offense and it becomes an offense that scores significant points.

Can you imagine the playoffs with a great D, special teams that are superb and an offense starting to put it all together, just at the right time.


I don't think Moore ever wanted the attention. He always deflected success onto his players. But I think many people who follow the game consider him one of the greats.

It must have been really hard for Fouts playing on those Coryell teams. Can you imagine having to play with Wes Chandler, Charlie Joiner, Kellen Winslow, Doug Wilkerson, Chuck Muncie, Ed White, Russ Washington, John Jefferson, Gary Johnson, Fred Dean, Willie Buchanon, Glen Edwards, Lou Kelcher, Gill Byrd, and Earnest Jackson? Fouts played with some really good players. He also got to play with Decon Jones, Mike Stratton, and Walt Sweeney(Should be in the HOF). Had to be a fun career, to bad he never got a ring.

I'm loading up my fantasy team with Bears because this offense is gonna dominate!! Thank God no more Turner. My 5th grade daughter watched every game with me last year and she could predict what play we were gonna run before it happened! I told her to get ready because it's a brand new year!! BEAR DOWN!!

Fouts says some interesting things,and one hopes Cutler pays attention and can learn from him about how to adjust.Following Fouts' performances in the past, I recall that his team was never out of it when he started winging the ball.Seeing statistics on how many long passes he successfully threw would be interesting. I think he had the gunslinger mentality and the system in which to utilize it.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on June 28, 2010 9:24 AM.

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