ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
08/03/2008

MEQUON, Wis. During a quarter of a century as an NFL coach, Al Saunders has been part of some of the game's most dynamic offenses. First with Don Coryell and the San Diego Chargers in the 1980s, next with Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz of the Rams in 1999-2000, and then under Vermeil in Kansas City from 2001 to 2005.

For most of Saunders' tenure with the Chiefs, the best offense in the Show-Me State was found in Kansas City not St. Louis. In KC, Saunders ran an offense that included Trent Green at quarterback, Tony Gonzalez at tight end and Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson at running back.

But things did not go so well in Washington, where Saunders spent the past two years as offensive coordinator for Joe Gibbs. In 2006, the Redskins finished 20th in scoring and 13th in total offense. Last season, they were 15th in total offense and 18th in scoring.

Injuries played a role in that mediocrity. Clinton Portis, the highest-paid running back in the league, played in only eight games in '06 because of injuries. Deep threat Santana Moss never came close to his 2005 production, when he caught 84 passes for 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns. And the Redskins operated without a proven quarterback.

But Saunders might have been hamstrung the most by the conservative philosophy of Gibbs, who likes the power running game over Saunders' more aggressive approach. Saunders won't have those constraints in St. Louis. Whether he has enough talented personnel to put some bite back in the Rams' offense remains to be seen.