With the 2005 season over, the Redskins have moved quickly to further solidify the coaching staff. The team hired former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders to help coach the offensive side of the ball next season.
Saunders, whose official job title has yet to be announced, will be introduced to the media in a press conference on Monday, Jan. 23, at Redskins Park.
Saunders hails from the same coaching tree as head coach Joe Gibbs. Both Gibbs and Saunders coached together in 1970 at USC under Don Coryell. Gibbs would go on to be offensive coordinator for Coryell from 1979-80; Saunders would serve as wide receivers coach under Coryell from 1983-86 in San Diego and eventually replace Coryell as head coach of the Chargers.
A 36-year coaching veteran, Saunders is regarded as one of the NFL's most accomplished and innovative offensive minds. With an energetic and hands-on style of coaching, he has coached 24 years in the NFL.
Last season, Saunders helped guide the Kansas City Chiefs' offense to the league's No. 1 ranking with an average of 387.0 yards per game. The Chiefs were ranked fourth in the league in rushing and sixth in passing.
It was the second consecutive year that Saunders guided the Chiefs to the NFL's top-ranked offense. In 2004, the Chiefs led the NFL in total offense by accumulating an average of 418.4 yards per game, a franchise record. In the process, Kansas City established an NFL record with 398 first downs, breaking the previous mark of 387 set by the 1984 Dolphins.
Under Saunders, the Chiefs have also continued their strong production in the running game. Kansas City tied a 42-year-old NFL record by registering 63 rushing touchdowns over the 2003-04 seasons, a two-season mark originally established by the 61-62 Packers.
In the last five seasons, eight different Chiefs offensive players have earned Pro Bowl honors under Saunders--guard Will Shields, tackle Willie Roaf, tight end Tony Gonzalez, running back Priest Holmes, running back Larry Johnson, quarterback Trent Green, fullback Tony Richardson and guard Brian Waters.
Prior to joining the Chiefs, Saunders spent time with the St. Louis Rams as associate head coach-wide receivers coach from 1999-2000. During that two-year span, Saunders helped revitalize a Rams offense as the club steamrolled its way to a 13-3 regular season record in 99 and a triumph over Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV. Owning an energetic and hands-on style, Saunders continues to invigorate the Kansas City offense in much the same way.
Presiding over high-flying offenses is nothing new for Saunders. In 2000, Saunders was part of a St. Louis coaching staff which helped the Rams score 540 points, the third-highest single-season total in NFL history. The club also led the league with an NFL-record 442.2 yards of total offense per game and paced the NFL in passing offense (327.0 yards per game) for the second straight season, setting another league record in the process.
The 2000 Rams amassed 7,075 yards of total offense and 5,232 passing yards, breaking the previous marks established by the 1984 Miami Dolphins.
En route to their World Championship in 1999, the Rams paced the NFL with an average of 400.8 yards per game. St. Louis also led the league in passing offense with 272.1 yards per game and topped the NFL in scoring by averaging 32.9 points per contest. The 526 total points amassed by the '99 squad ranked as the fourth-highest tally in NFL annals.
From 1989-98, he coached under former Redskins head coach Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City, serving as assistant head coach and wide receivers coach.
Before initially joining the Chiefs in 1989, Saunders served as San Diego's head coach from the midpoint of the 1986 season through the 1988 campaign. In his first full season as head coach in 1987 he guided the Chargers to an 8-7 record, a four-game improvement from the club's 4-12 finish the previous year. That 8-7 record represented San Diego's first winning season in five years and included a perfect 3-0 record in replacement games, a feat matched only by Gibbs that year.
Saunders initially joined San Diego in 1983 as wide receivers coach in what was one of the most exiting and prolific pass offenses in NFL history. Behind Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts and the Chargers electrifying receiving corps coached by Saunders, San Diego led the league in passing and total offense in 1983 and 1985.
Saunders began his career as a graduate assistant under the late John McKay--another long-time Gibbs associate--at Southern California (1970-71). He also had coaching stints at Missouri, Utah State, California and Tennessee.
Born in London, England, Saunders became one of only four foreign-born head coaches in NFL history after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1960.