Al Saunders

Last updated

Al Saunders
Personal information
Born: (1947-02-01) February 1, 1947 (age 74)
London, England
Career information
High school: San Francisco (CA) St. Ignatius
College: San Jose State
Career history
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season:17–22 (.436)
Coaching stats at PFR

Alan Keith Saunders (born February 1, 1947) is an American football coach who most recently served as the senior offensive assistant for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL).

Contents

Personal life

Saunders was born in the north London suburb of Hendon as part of a sporting family; his great-uncle, Ron Saunders, played soccer for a number of teams in The Football League and later became a manager, winning honours with Norwich City and Aston Villa.

Saunders is a member of the San Jose State University Hall of Fame. He earned Academic All-American Football honors as a three-year starter and team captain at defensive back and wide receiver from 1966-68. He is a former prep All-American swimmer and National record holder in the sport as well as being an accomplished distance runner. He was veteran of numerous marathons and was crowned the Road Runners Club of America's Masters 5K National Champion in 1996. He is a member of Theta Chi Fraternity and has been enshrined in their Hall of Honor as well as receiving their "Distinguished Achievement Award" in 2016 for professional and life accomplishments. [1] Saunders earned a master's degree in education from Stanford University in 1970.

Recognized in "Who's Who in America" and "International Leaders in Achievement", Saunders was awarded California's prestigious "Golden State Award" in 1989 for excellence in community service and leadership.

Saunders is married to the former Karen Mize, daughter of television personality and recording artist Billy Mize, a three-time winner of Academy of Country Music's Personality of the Year Award ('65-'67). Saunders has three children, distinguished clinical physiologist Dr. Korrin E. Saunders, Emmy award winning film maker William J Saunders, and NFL coach Robert C. Saunders.

Coaching career

Prior to entering the NFL, Saunders spent 12 years as a college assistant coach. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at USC under John McKay from 1970–71 and served as receivers coach for the University of Missouri's Fiesta Bowl team in 1972.

Saunders spent 1973 through 1975 as play-caller and offensive backfield coach at Utah State where he coached Louie Giammona to become the NCAA leader in all purpose yardage and rushing in '74 and '75. He then spent six seasons as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at the University of California where he tutored All-American quarterbacks Joe Roth and Rich Campbell. He guided the Golden Bears to set 32 NCAA, conference and school records and finished each season ranked in the top ten in the nation in passing. His final collegiate stop was in 1982 as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach under Johnny Majors at the University of Tennessee where he built an explosive, record setting offense featuring future NFL first-round wide receiver picks Willie Gault and Clyde Duncan. [2]

His first NFL head coaching position came with the San Diego Chargers as interim head coach in 1986 following the resignation of Don Coryell. He spent two full seasons as the Chargers head coach after previously working as receivers coach in 1983-84 and assistant head coach in 1985-86 for what was one of the most prolific offenses in the history of modern football. In 1985, San Diego's "Air Coryell" led the NFL in passing and total offense for an unprecedented fifth time in six years. Saunders tutored Hall of Fame receivers Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow and oversaw the development of Pro Bowl receivers Wes Chandler, Lionel James and Gary Anderson. [3]

From 1989 until 1998, Saunders was with the Kansas City Chiefs. He served as the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach working with Pro Bowl performers Carlos Carson, Stephon Paige, Webster Slaughter, Andre Rison and Derek Alexander. Saunders worked for 10 winning seasons under the highly respected head coach Marty Schottenheimer. [4]

After Schottenhiemer's unexpected resignation from the Chiefs, Saunders joined the St. Louis Rams coaching staff under the legendary Dick Vermeil. [5] Serving as associate head coach and receivers coach with the Rams (1999-2000), he helped create one of the most dynamic and explosive offenses that the NFL had ever seen, and eventually helped lead the Rams to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory. Leading the NFL in virtually every significant offensive category, "The Greatest Show on Turf" established numerous NFL records for scoring and offensive production. The emergence of Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, the production of Hall of Fame running back, Marshall Faulk and Saunders’ development of Pro Bowlers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt were all largely cited as the key factor in the Rams’ innovative and creative success.

When Vermeil came out of retirement in 2001, Saunders reunited with his old mentor and former team, the Kansas City Chiefs, as the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator until Vermeil’s final retirement in 2006. Under Saunders’ direction as coordinator, the Chiefs offense was the most productive unit in the entire NFL during that 5-year span. 46 franchise records for offense production were established and no team scored more points (2,175), gained more yards (30,470), or scored more touchdowns (262) during that time. Saunders offense also broke numerous NFL records including a single season record of 398 first downs, most combined first downs in a game (64), established the highest red zone touchdown scoring percentage in league history (77.8), longest touchdown pass in league history (99yds), fewest fumbles in a season (2), tied a 42-year-old mark with 63 rushing touchdowns over two seasons, became the first team in NFL history to have three runners have 150-yard games in a single season, and was the only team ever to score 8 rushing touchdowns in a single game.

Also during that period, Priest Holmes twice broke the NFL single season rushing touchdown record (27) and was named NFL offensive player of the year (2003). Additionally, Tony Gonzales set the NFL single season receiving mark for tight ends (102 in 2004), Trent Green became only the fourth player in league history to finish four consecutive seasons with a QB rating above 90, and 11 different offensive players enjoyed Pro Bowl years — all under Saunders’ direction. Saunders was ranked as the #1 Offensive Coordinator in the past 25 years in the NFL by ESPN and in 2005, and was named USA Today's Offensive Coach of the Year. [6]

On January 19, 2006, he joined the coaching staff of the Washington Redskins as associate head coach and offensive coordinator to Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs. With one of the most dominant rushing teams in the league Saunders led Washington's offense to a playoff berth in 2007. Saunders served Gibbs until his retirement two years later. [6]

On January 30, 2008, Saunders was hired as offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. [5] Constructing an offense around the skills of Pro Bowl running back Stephen Jackson the Rams had one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the NFL.

In 2009, Saunders was hired away by the Baltimore Ravens to serve as the senior offensive assistant to John Harbaugh. [7] Saunders contributed to designing an offense that produced back to back playoff appearances for the Ravens and worked closely with pro bowl performers Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta.

On January 20, 2011, Saunders was hired by Al Davis and Hue Jackson to serve as the Offensive Coordinator and QB coach for the Oakland Raiders. [8] Under Saunders' direction, Oakland's offense finished with the second highest yardage total in franchise history (6,072) and ranked among the NFL leaders in rushing, passing and total offense.

On January 31, 2012, following Davis' death and Jackson's firing, and after interviewing for several vacant offensive coordinator positions with other organizations, Saunders agreed to return to Oakland as Senior Offensive Assistant under Dennis Allen. He served in that capacity for the following three seasons. [9]

Saunders announced his retirement on April 10, 2015, but returned on October 7 as the Miami Dolphins senior offensive assistant under interim coach Dan Campbell. [10] [11] While working primarily with the wide receivers Jarvis Landry set a franchise record with 110 receptions and became the most productive receiver in NFL history during his first two seasons with a total of 194.

On January 19, 2016, Saunders rejoined Jackson at the Cleveland Browns to be the team's senior offensive assistant. He additionally coached wide receivers, and turned former QB Terrelle Pryor into a 1,000 yard receiver in his first full season at the position. Saunders remained with the Browns until retiring after the 2018 NFL season.

Head coaching record

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
SD 1986 350.3755th in AFC West--
SD 1987 870.5333rd in AFC West
SD 1988 6100.3754th in AFC West
Total17220.43900

Related Research Articles

Sid Gillman American football player and coach (1911–2003)

Sidney Gillman was an American football player, coach and executive. Gillman's insistence on stretching the football field by throwing deep downfield passes, instead of short passes to running backs or wide receivers at the sides of the line of scrimmage, was instrumental in making football into the modern game that it is today.

In American football, the West Coast offense is an offense that places a greater emphasis on passing than on running.

Michael Martz is an American football coach. Best known for his coaching tenure with the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League (NFL), he served as the offensive coordinator for the Rams' Greatest Show on Turf offense in 1999 that led the franchise to its first Super Bowl title in Super Bowl XXXIV. Martz subsequently served as the head coach of the Rams from 2000 to 2005, where his teams reached the playoffs four times, won two division titles, and achieved a franchise-best 14–2 record in 2001 en route to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Dick Vermeil American football coach

Richard Albert Vermeil is a former American football coach who served as a head coach in the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons. He was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for seven seasons, the St. Louis Rams for three, and the Kansas City Chiefs for five. Prior to the NFL, he was the head football coach at Hillsdale High School from 1960 to 1962, Nappa Junior College in 1964, and UCLA from 1974 to 1975. With UCLA, Vermeil led the team to victory in the 1976 Rose Bowl. Vermeil's NFL tenure would see him improve the fortunes of teams that had a losing record before he arrived and bring them all to the playoffs by his third season, which included a Super Bowl title with the Rams.

Jim Zorn American football coach and quarterback

James Arthur Zorn is a former American football player and coach. Zorn was a left-handed quarterback, and is best known as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks for their first eight seasons. He was the quarterback coach for the Seattle Seahawks from 2001 until the 2007 season, before being hired by the Washington Redskins to be their head coach starting in the 2008 season.

"The Greatest Show on Turf" was a nickname for the record-breaking offense of the St. Louis Rams during the 1999, 2000, and 2001 National Football League seasons. The offense was designed by attack oriented offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who advocated mixing both an aerial attack and a run offense in the form of the Air Coryell style offense. The Rams' offense during these three seasons produced a largest of scoring, accrued yardage, three NFL MVP honors, and two Super Bowl appearances for the 1999 and 2001 seasons, of which they won the former.

Don Coryell

Donald David Coryell was an American football coach, who coached in the National Football League (NFL) first with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1973 to 1977 and then the San Diego Chargers from 1978 to 1986. He was well known for his innovations to football's passing offense. Coryell's offense was commonly known as "Air Coryell". Coryell was the first coach ever to win more than 100 games at both the collegiate and professional level. He was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame in 1986. Coryell is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. The Professional Football Researchers Association named Coryell to the PFRA Hall of Very Good Class of 2010.

Ernie Zampese is a former American football player and coach. Playing for Santa Barbara High School, he was selected as the CIF Player of the Year in 1953 and went on to play at the halfback position for the USC Trojans in 1955 and 1956. Between 1962 and 1975, he was a college football coach at Allan Hancock Junior College (1962–1965), Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1966) and San Diego State University (1967–1975). Between 1976 and 1999, he served as an assistant coach, scout, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for various NFL teams. He gained his greatest acclaim as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers during the Air Coryell years.

Terry Robiskie

Terrance Joseph "Terry" Robiskie is an American football coach and former player. He previously served as an assistant coach for the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Raiders, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

William Scott Musgrave is an American football coach and former player. He is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the California Golden Bears, and is a former quarterback, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for multiple National Football League (NFL) teams. He played college football at the University of Oregon.

Hue Jackson American football coach

Hue Jackson is an American football coach and the current offensive coordinator for the Tennessee State Tigers. He has served as the head coach for the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns and has been an offensive coordinator for multiple teams. Before joining Oakland, Jackson served as an offensive assistant coach for several NFL teams, most notably as the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins under Steve Spurrier and the Atlanta Falcons under Bobby Petrino. Jackson's 3–36–1 record over two-and-a-half seasons with the Browns is the worst record that a head coach has recorded while presiding over an NFL team for at least 40 games.

History of the St. Louis Rams

The professional American football team now known as the Los Angeles Rams played in St. Louis, Missouri, as the St. Louis Rams from 1995 until the end of the 2015 season, before relocating back to Los Angeles where the team played from the 1946 season to the 1994 season.

Greg Knapp American football coach (born 1963)

Gregory Fishbeck Knapp is an American football coach who is the pass game specialist for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He previously served as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

The New England Patriots generally run a modified Erhardt-Perkins offensive system and a Fairbanks-Bullough 3–4 defensive system, though they have also used a 4–3 defense and increased their use of the nickel defense.

Skip Peete is an American football coach who is the running backs coach for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). He most recently served as the running backs coach for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). Prior to the Rams, he coached running backs for the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and Oakland Raiders. He also has experience in college, coaching running backs for two years at UCLA, wide receivers at Michigan State and Rutgers, and both running backs and wide receivers at the University of Pittsburgh.

History of the San Diego Chargers Sports team history

The professional American football team now known as the Los Angeles Chargers previously played in San Diego as the San Diego Chargers from 1961 to 2017 before relocating back to Los Angeles where the team played their inaugural season. The Chargers franchise relocated from Los Angeles to San Diego in 1961. The Chargers' first home game in San Diego was at Balboa Stadium against the Oakland Raiders on September 17, 1961. Their final game as a San Diego-based club was played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego at the end of the 2016 season against the Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated them 37–27.

Gregory Alan Olson is an American football coach who is the offensive coordinator for the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). He has been an offensive coordinator for five different National Football League (NFL) teams, the Detroit Lions from 2004 to 2005, the St. Louis Rams from 2006 to 2007, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2008 to 2011, the Oakland Raiders from 2013 to 2014, and the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2015 to 2016. During 2017, Olson served as the Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach replacing Chris Weinke. In 2018, Olson returned to Oakland to be their offensive coordinator, reuniting him with former mentee quarterback Derek Carr.

In American football, Air Coryell is the offensive scheme and philosophy developed by former San Diego Chargers coach Don Coryell. The offensive philosophy has been also called the "Coryell offense" or the "vertical offense".

David Shaw (American football) American football coach

David Lorenzo Shaw is the head coach of the Stanford Cardinal football team. Shaw was the team's offensive coordinator for the entire tenure of head coach Jim Harbaugh from 2007 to 2010. Previously, Shaw was a four-year letter winner playing as a wide receiver for the Cardinal from 1991 to 1994, where he was coached by Dennis Green and Bill Walsh. Prior to returning to Stanford as offensive coordinator, Shaw was Harbaugh's passing game coordinator at the University of San Diego and an assistant coach in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, and Baltimore Ravens.

Todd Downing American football coach

Todd Downing is an American football coach who is the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League (NFL). He has previously served as offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders and also previously served as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams.

References

  1. "The Rattle - Fall 2008" (PDF). www.thetachi.org. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  2. 2014 Oakland Raiders Media Guide page 27.
  3. "Coryell resigns after 1–7 start". The Palm Beach Post. October 30, 1986. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  4. Tucker, Doug (January 23, 2001). "Saunders returns as offensive guru". Daily Union . Associated Press . Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  5. 1 2 "Rams hire Saunders as offensive coordinator". USA Today . Associated Press. February 1, 2008. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  6. 1 2 Carter, Ivan (January 21, 2006). "Saunders Has Been Known to Mix It Up". The Washington Post . Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  7. "Raiders to interview Al Saunders". Associated Press . ESPN.com. January 19, 2011. Archived from the original on January 22, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  8. Bill Williamson (January 20, 2011). "Raiders add experience with new OC". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on January 23, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  9. "Saunders Returns to Raiders Coaching Staff". Raiders.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 17, 2015. Retrieved December 31, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nfl/miami-dolphins/article38060388.html