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  1. #1
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    Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    01/31/2008

    Here's a transcript of today's media teleconference with Al Saunders, hired Wednesday as the Rams' offensive coordinator:


    Q. Was it just like a whirlwind?

    AL SAUNDERS: Well, it hasn't been a real quick process, actually. You know, Scott and I have been talking for over a week, and just as it all played out, it just seemed to be a real great fit for me. And I'm real anxious to come back to be part of the Ram family again. It was a big part of my life in '99 and 2000 winning the Super Bowl. And my wife and I spent 17 years in the State of Missouri. So we've been paying taxes there for a long time between Kansas City and St. Louis. And that's home for us.

    And I had some real great conversations with Scott and feel like I really think I can help out there, and he feels very strongly about my ability to make contributions to his program, and I'm excited to work with him.


    Q. I know last time when you were in St. Louis, the offense was kind of predicated on throwing the ball around and doing different things. How has your philosophy changed over the years and what you did in Kansas City and all through Washington?


    SAUNDERS: My philosophy of offense is probably you could look at Kansas City and say that's what it is in a nutshell. I really believe in being a very diversified team and having the ability to be balanced and be able to run the ball and pass the football with equal efficiency.

    It's about players and match‑ups in this game, and I think you really have to do a great job of adjusting your personnel to the system that you run and taking advantage of the play‑makers that you have. I think the offense is fun to play in.

    I think the fans enjoy watching it. I think it's entertaining. And hopefully it will be very productive. I think in the period of time I was in Kansas City over that five‑year period I think we were the most productive offense in the National Football League at that time and the highest scoring offense.

    I'd like to think that maybe we could do some of those things and be successful in St. Louis like we were in '99, 2000, and it's a very versatile offense. And I think it takes advantage of the play‑makers and gives them a chance to do some things with the ball in space.


    Q. Couple of guys I know are going to be very happy to see you, namely Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. I'm sure you're anxious to work with them again.

    SAUNDERS: Very much so. Isaac. And I had Torry when he was a rookie his first two years in the league, actually. And he's just a special, special player and a special human being. I'm real excited to rekindle that relationship again as a coach/player relationship. And Isaac always had a fond place in my heart. I think he's a special player and Hall of Fame receiver. And, of course, he's a little bit older now and a little bit wiser, and I really enjoy him. I just think when you have an opportunity to work with two of the finest players at their positions, you know it's really a wonderful thing as a coach. And I look forward to having an opportunity with them again.


    Q. Do you feel like the Rams at this point have the personnel in place to really achieve an offensive turnaround next year, or do you think some adjustments need to be made personnel-wise?

    SAUNDERS: You know, in all honesty, I have a cursory knowledge of the personnel on hand. That's an in‑depth study that we'll certainly be involved with as soon as I get out there in St. Louis.

    But just, initially, generally most of the successful offenses in football, from an offensive standpoint, you have a left tackle, running back and you have a quarterback and a receiver that is the go‑to guy you can count on. And the rest of those pieces, you piece everything else together to make yourself as consistent as you possibly can be.

    And I think that certainly when you look at the running back position, I think (Steven Jackson’s) a special player. And I think everybody would agree with that. He's one of those unique guys, much like the success in the past has been with Marshall Falk with the tremendous things he did as a three‑dimensional player; he was a runner, pass receiver and blocker. And we had Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson in Kansas City we adjusted, when Priest got hurt, we adjusted the offense to take care of the skills of Larry Johnson who was really a downhill runner and Priest was a three‑dimensional player.

    And I look at the situation in St. Louis, is having a back that's a three‑dimensional player. Gosh he caught 90 balls a year ago, and he rushed for a tremendous number of yards. And so when you have a player like that, that's where you start building around. And because of his ability, the quarterback (Marc Bulger), he's been to the Pro Bowl. He had a 4,000 passing year, and I think he's a veteran guy that you can build things around, both the running game and passing game with those two. The receivers are experienced. If Orlando Pace comes back at full speed at left tackle, then you've got a marquee player there.

    The rest of the situation on offense, you know, I think the offensive line probably will need some, maybe some attention and that is certainly up to the personnel department and Scott's evaluation of those people and certainly my evaluation when I get there and can study them a little bit more.

    But I think the pieces are in position. And once again the success they have depends on, you know, how you utilize them on a weekly basis and what kind of framework you have against with the defense that you face.


    Q. Coach Linehan mentioned that this was a two-way interview process. What kind of concerns did you have coming into this job and how did Coach Linehan ease those and make you ready to accept?

    SAUNDERS: Well, I think when you're in the coaching career for a long period of time, I worked and had the opportunity and really the privilege to work in the National Football League for some fabulous coaches, Doug Coryell and Marty Schottenheimer for 10 years in Kansas City, and Dick Vermeil, both in Kansas and St. Louis. And Joe Gibbs.

    Those are probably Hall of Fame coaches, one of which is already there. And the important thing to me is people that you work with and where you are. And, first of all, St. Louis, Kansas City, the State of Missouri, that's what we feel is our home. So that was important.

    The next thing that was important was the coach that I was going to be working with and his philosophy offensively. And I think that I'm familiar with Scott going back to my days in Kansas City when we used to work against Minnesota up in training camp. And I always felt like we had a real good relationship and I really respected what he did there with his offensive football team, and I think we're on the same page in regards to how we would like to approach this.

    And that was really important to me. And the other thing was the staff. Who was on the staff and how they felt about the type of offense that we would be involved with.

    And it seemed like we were all on the same page in that regard of what we wanted to do, through Scott. I'm learning these things as we talked about them during this week, this process.

    And I think Scott is committed to winning. He wants to win. And he reached out and said he thought he needed some help in this area, and he felt like I was the person that could help him. And he felt very comfortable with that.

    And so my experience now is to truly try to help Scott Linehan do the things he wants to do as a coach in an area that I call home. And I'm just real excited about it. And those are some of the things we talked about.


    Q. Scott said yesterday that he was surprised that you became available. How surprised were you to be let go in Washington?

    SAUNDERS: Any time you have a coaching change, there's generally sometimes a change all the way down the list. When Joe resigned ... I came here to work for Joe. I had some opportunities in Kansas City, and when Dick Vermeil resigned and the choice I made was to come and work for Joe Gibbs. I was his graduate assistant when he was at USC many, many years ago under John McKay. And I just adored Joe as a man and I really respected him as a coach.

    And it was an opportunity to work with somebody who I idolized greatly. When he resigned kind of unexpectedly, we thought he'd be here for a long period of time, I think anybody has the right to bring in their own people.

    So when he left, you know, it was just a decision that the organization made both with Gregg Williams and I that they were going to go in a different direction offensively and defensively. So he gave me an opportunity to look for a place that I would be very comfortable in like St. Louis. And it worked out really well.


    Q. Was it the handwriting on the wall in Washington? You said you've been talking to Scott for a week. You got fired, I don't know, what, five days ago or whatever.

    SAUNDERS: I don't know the exact time schedule. Scott asked for permission through the organization to, they send in a consent form to have the discussions. And that's what we did. We went and they got permission from the Washington organization to talk to me and we began discussions in that regard and I don't know the exact day when that would be but it was well into last week.


    Q. Is this going to be a situation where you have to come in and run Coach Linehan's offense that he's already installed, or will this be a group effort where maybe you make adjustments to what Linehan has already installed as his offense?

    SAUNDERS: Any time you are on a staff everybody has input. And it's a collective thing for all of us to be the St. Louis Ram's offense. And Scott has given me the assuredness that when I come there I can run the offense in both planning preparation and play calling, which was very important to me, because I think I have a philosophy of football that will allow us to be successful, if all the pieces fall in place. But it's still, you know, a group dynamic.

    It's never one person. It's always the input, in the working in the chemistry, the entire staff that allows an offense to be successful or defense for that matter. We'll all be in it together. But Scott has assured me that I'll have the ability to do the things that I felt were necessary for us to move forward as an offensive football team.


    Q. As an offensive coordinator, do you still get the run down the field to discuss these things after plays?

    SAUNDERS: I was told a long time ago, once again, by a guy by the name of John McKay, when you're on the football field, there's only so much time you have to practice. So players should be told when they're doing things right and when they're doing things that need to be improved upon. And during the course of times guys coming back to the huddle you try to coach as much as you can.

    And I'm a little bit animated on the field. I love coaching. I have a passion for the game, and I love to teach. Really that's what coaching is about. It's about teaching. It's just we have an opportunity to teach some of the best athletes in the world at what they do in an environment that is really conducive to getting some things done.

    And so I would say that I'm just an enthusiastic coach that enjoys working with those guys. And it's just kind of the way I coach. Yeah I'll be running up and down the field and sometimes it's running after the receivers and sometimes it's the running backs and sometimes those quarterbacks don't go too far and I can outrun most of them, so I can kind of walk up to those guys.


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Good read. Thanks Nick.
    BRUUUUUUUUCE


  3. #3
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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Very excited to have Saunders on board! It looks as though Bruce's chances of finishing up his career as Ram are more secure now with the hiring of Saunders. Good find Nick!
    As always.....

    GO RAMS!!!

  4. #4
    PHAT-MONEY Guest

    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    we have hope we saunders.. who really wanted hue jackson anyway.. we have a mizzou man.. i am glad he will be returning to st.louis.

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    Talking Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Thanks for the post, that was great..

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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Saunders sounds like he is wanting to build the offense on the solid parts of the offense - the people he knows he can count on. He knows the line is weak, but something about this interview just screams out "I WANT ANOTHER SUPERBOWL WIN!!!"

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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Sure reads like he's a man with a plan. The other thing that I think is important is that he wants to be here both on the professional side and the family side.

    Welcome aboard AL.

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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Excellent interview -- and mounting expectations. GO RAMS! :bash:

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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    It's about players and match‑ups in this game, and I think you really have to do a great job of adjusting your personnel to the system that you run and taking advantage of the play‑makers that you have.
    So, you don't throw the same vanilla offensive scheme out there no matter what the defense looks like??? Interesting philosophy...

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Sounds like the start of something good.

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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    GREAT JOB NICK, LOVED THE ARTICLE... I think you will definately see some free agents walk onto the Rams from the Redskins, along with this conversion!


    Lets Rock N' Roll in 2008

    Cheerz Terry :r

  12. #12
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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Yeah, its very exciting that Saunders has come on board. The interview was very reassuring.

    I just see so many positives with him bing here its hard not to be optimistic about next year. He has respect for our skill positions and knows what they are capable of doing on the field. I was really glad to hear that he intends to use a similar offense scheme to the one he used in KC. His ability to make adjustments to match his personnel and the defense we're playing will be a welcome improvement. I'm hoping that he will take advantage of McMichael at TE like he did with Gonzales. If we can solidify our offensive line, I think good times are ahead!

    Go Rams!!!

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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Quote Originally Posted by viper View Post
    I'm hoping that he will take advantage of McMichael at TE like he did with Gonzales.
    Somewhere, Randy McMichael has got to be pinching himself and dreaming of a healthy, productive OL.

  14. #14
    btimsah Guest

    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    Good read. Rams need to go out and get some big ROAD-GRADER type guards for the offensive line and this team then becomes something special. The interior of the offensive line has been weak for awhile now. Ever since Timmerman got old.

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    Re: Rams Q-and-A: New offensive coordinator Al Saunders

    I will say this I became a SOLP member due to Linehan play book, not his play calling. I'm so happy we will go back to what we do best.

    Now we will see if Randy McMichael, Drew Bennett and Brian Leonard can provide some help in the new scheme.

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