Dynamic debut: Don Coryell’s first game with Cardinals

Mark Tomasik at RetroSimba takes a look at Hall of Famer Don Coryell’s first game as head coach of the St. Louis Football Cardinals.


From his first regular-season game as a head coach in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals, Don Coryell showed signs of being special. He got the Cardinals to play with confidence and collective pride.

When he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 9, 2023, Coryell correctly was hailed as an innovator whose offenses with the Cardinals, and later the San Diego Chargers, were thrilling to watch and nerve-wracking to defend.

Those progressive schemes were just part of his skillset. Coryell also was an effective leader who got players to buy into his philosophies and to execute consistently within a framework of selfless collaboration.

Meet the new boss

The season opener between the Cardinals and Eagles on Sept. 16, 1973, at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia marked the NFL head coaching debuts of Coryell and Mike McCormack.

Coryell came to the Cardinals from the college coaching…

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3 thoughts on “Dynamic debut: Don Coryell’s first game with Cardinals

  1. Ironically, on Opening Day 1974, the Big Red were clinging to a 7-3 lead and Gabriel and the Eagles had a 1st and goal late in the 4th quarter. This time, the Big Red D stood tall and 4 incompletions later, they walked off with the victory. The following week, a long run by Terry Metcalf and a 79 yard fumble return by Ron Yankowski provided a win over the Redskins. They would go on to win their first 7 games on the way to their first playoff birth. In 1974, the Big Red defense would set a St. Louis record for fewest points allowed, 219.


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