Al Saunders and his 700 page playbook are heading to Oakland. Saunders was seen as an offensive guru during his Kansas City tenure from 2001-2005. A closer look may provide some incite into Saunders’ success.
Saunders had Trent Green, Eddie Kennison (surprisingly effective even though he’s been forgotten), Tony Gonzalez (best fantasy TE ever) and perhaps the best fantasy football player of all (albeit short) time, Priest Holmes on his offense (not to mention young Larry Johnson starting in 2003). He also had one of the best offensive lines in the league (featuring Brian Waters and and Will Shields) and Dante Hall who was the best kick returner in the league until Devin Hester came along giving him great field position.
In addition the Chiefs defense from 2001-2005 was giving the offense plenty of incentive to keep scoring. The defense ranked 28th, 19th, 29th and 16th in Saunders 4 years as Chiefs offensive coordinator.
Saunders left the Chiefs during Daniel Snyder’s “I’m going to pay assistant coaches more than the average head coach” phase. Saunders only lasted 2 seasons and had the 20th and 19th ranked offense and struggled with the Raiders current starting QB (Jason Campbell) at the helm for the Redskins. His last coordinator gig was with the Rams in 2008 where they ranked 30th.
The Redskins and Rams teams he coached weren’t exactly littered with talent, but do we think this currently composed Raiders team is closer to the loaded Chiefs with a bad defense? Or to the 06 & 07 Redskins and 08 Rams teams?
The really puzzling thing about this hire is that a main point of contention between Al Davis and the recently fired Tom Cable was that Davis wanted Jason Campbell to play QB and Cable wanted Bruce Gradkowski. Saunders has experience with Jason Campbell and the results weren’t encouraging the first time around.
Saunders has been maligned in the past for his aforementioned 700 page playbook. With a playbook double the size of most and even with months to study it, players would still go into offseason programs at a disadvantage. With the NFL’s current labor situation, the players may have to wait until late July or August to get Al Saunder’s latest tome.
Al Davis may love the idea of Al Saunder’s vertical passing attack, but may once again find himself left unsatisfied with his staff as he has so many times in the last 10 years.