Despite interviewing for the Oakland Raiders head-coaching job, Al Saunders is coming to the Washington Redskins as an assistant head coach and offensive co-ordinator.
His addition to the Redskins' coaching staff should not be much of a surprise. Dan Snyder has been exploiting the ability to gain an edge with a phenomenal coaching staff since he brought Joe Gibbs back. Since that time, Snyder and Gibbs have assembled an amazing staff and to the envy and chagrin of others, at some expense.
What do you get with Saunders? Experience, expertise, innovation and proven success to name a few things. In Kansas City he led the NFL and broke the franchise record for yards in a season with 6,695 yards in 2004. In fact, the Chiefs have led the NFL in an awful lot of offensive categories since he returned to the franchise as assistant coach and co-ordinator.
Saunders may have felt a little snubbed by the Chiefs organization when Herm Edwards was hired to replace Dick Vermeil after Saunders had given 15 years of service to them. Considering that Saunders coached the wide receivers under Marty Schottenheimer back in 1989, he certainly earned his stripes. Schottenheimer's Chiefs made seven playoff trips and won three divisional titles in ten seasons. After a quick two-year stint in St. Louis where he helped revitalize 'the best show of turf', he returned to the Chiefs in 2001. He spent the last five years there breaking offensive records.
Not to be forgotten, Saunders also has NFL head coaching experience. He took over as coach of the Chargers in the middle of the 1986 season and coached them through the 1988 season. That experience will be a valuable asset to the coaching structure of the Redskins. This move fortifies the notion of Gregg Williams taking over as head coach when Joe Gibbs is done. Saunders is a perfect compliment to the defensive wizardry of Williams and together, they will make a great coaching tandem.
Ironically, despite his offensive innovation, Saunders was a defensive back when he played football at San Jose State. He was a team captain, earned All-American honors and is enshrined in their Hall of Fame.
He went on to serve as an assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach at California from 1976-81. His offense set 32 national, conference and school records there.
Saunders is also a former All-American swimmer and record holder. He is an avid marathoner who has competed in the Kansas City and Los Angeles Marathons, as well as the 100th running of the Boston Marathon. He was born in London, England and is married to wife Karen. He has two sons Bob and Joe, and a daughter named Kori.
Redskin fans should be excited about this latest addition to the all-star cast of coaches. And somewhere... Clinton Portis is dancing.