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chefsos
01-22-2006, 07:43 AM
The Washington Post let him write a football article. Plenty of AS/Chiefs love, too. Move over, Kornheiser.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/20/AR2006012001673.html

Saunders Has Been Known to Mix It Up

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 21, 2006; Page E10

The first thing that stood out about Al Saunders's office inside Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City was the precise organization of the place. Shelves of playbooks dating from his days as an assistant under offensive innovator Don Coryell were stacked neatly on one wall. Tapes and DVDs of games were neatly lined up on a bookshelf on another.

And then there were the dry-erase boards that covered three walls. The boards were packed with small but clear handwritten notes that detailed plays, formation groupings, motions, shifts and defensive tendencies.

The man who ran that show was Saunders, Kansas City's offensive coordinator and sole play-caller for five seasons. Saunders did it with a talented offensive line, an accurate quarterback (Trent Green), talented running backs who could run and catch (Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson), one of the best tight ends in the game (Tony Gonzalez) and a group of average wide receivers.

From a historical perspective, the addition of Saunders to Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs's staff, a move that was announced by Washington on Thursday, makes perfect sense. Saunders and Gibbs came off the Coryell coaching tree of the 1970s and early 1980s and learned the "Air Coryell" offense, an innovative, attack-through-the- air system that has roots going back to Sid Gillman's San Diego teams of the old American Football League.

In terms of play calling, Redskins fans will recognize traits of the Saunders offense, an example being personnel groupings that feature Gibbs staples such as two-tight end sets and three-receiver formations with pass patterns coming out of bunch alignments (a combination of tight ends and/or wide receivers lined up in a "bunch" on one side of the formation).

One key difference is that while Gibbs veered toward a more conservative, ground-oriented approach when he left San Diego to take over the Redskins in 1981, Saunders's philosophy begins with aggressively pushing the ball downfield and then mixing the pass and run to keep defenses off-balance.

Gibbs sees virtue in running a play until the defense stops it, but Saunders preaches unpredictability. With that in mind, the Chiefs often ran out of the shotgun formation and passed out of traditional under-center formations, and would often run on third and five or longer and pass on second and short. Saunders almost never called the same play out of the same formation twice in the same game -- or even in a string of games.

Two other things made the Saunders offense unique:

Perhaps more than any team in football, the Chiefs used pre-snap shifting and motion by players to create mismatches, particularly for Gonzalez, who always draws extra attention from linebackers and safeties. It wasn't unusual for the Chiefs to be snapping the football as the defense still adjusted to the last shift or motion.

And Green almost never changed plays at the line of scrimmage. Saunders's philosophy is that any play he calls should work against any defense because of the options within the play. Saunders would call a play from the coaches' box, it would be relayed to Green from the sideline and Green would call it in the huddle. Like all veteran quarterbacks, Green sometimes would have liked to have had the option to change a play, but one major bonus of the system was that the Chiefs were rarely hit with delay-of-game penalties.

Saunders's unpredictable play-calling style was epitomized by a 40-34 victory over Green Bay at Lambeau Field during the 2003 season. On the first possession of overtime, Saunders ran Holmes nine consecutive plays and then, after the Chiefs missed a field goal but got the ball back on a fumble recovery near midfield, Green dropped back and hit wide receiver Eddie Kennison for the winning touchdown.

The intriguing thing for Washington fans has to be this: If Saunders and the Chiefs could rack up that kind of production while consistently being strapped with a lousy defense, how will Saunders's offense function when complemented by a good defense?

Ivan Carter, who covers the Washington Wizards for The Post, covered the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star from 2001 to 2004.

FringeNC
01-22-2006, 07:50 AM
Wow. An article about football and the writer actually has some knowledge of the game.

chiefsfaninNC
01-22-2006, 08:27 AM
I miss Ivan.

Phobia
01-22-2006, 09:11 AM
The intriguing thing for Washington fans has to be this: If Saunders and the Chiefs could rack up that kind of production while consistently being strapped with a lousy defense, how will Saunders's offense function when complemented by a good defense?


Really crappy for the first year.

ROYC75
01-22-2006, 09:20 AM
Really crappy for the first year.


Agreed, it takes time to learn something new........

Bowser
01-22-2006, 09:27 AM
The Star should have ponied up to keep Ivan. He is a good young talent.

milkman
01-22-2006, 09:31 AM
Agreed, it takes time to learn something new........

I would disagree, because Gibbs and Saunders are both Coryell desciples.

They won't be learning a new system, they'll just be adapting to Al's adjustments.

Ari Chi3fs
01-22-2006, 09:35 AM
I smell a SB for Washington in Superbowl 42.

FringeNC
01-22-2006, 09:38 AM
I smell a SB for Washington in Superbowl 42.

Yeah, Washington Redskins next year will be a good experiment in the value of coaching relative to that of players. Talent-wise, Washington is nothing special. I think they have the two best coordinators in the game, and I think that will carry them to the top.

the Talking Can
01-22-2006, 10:00 AM
Carter is to interesting as Whitlock is to fat and stupid.

craneref
01-22-2006, 10:09 AM
So who esactly do the 'Skins have to be their Green, Holmes and Gonzales. They do have Portis, but he is NO Priest, that is for sure. It isn't genreal talent that make a system work, but the correct kind of talent for that system that makes it work. My last example is the "Skins line was not built for all the pulling the CHIEFS do. We will see.

milkman
01-22-2006, 10:17 AM
So who esactly do the 'Skins have to be their Green, Holmes and Gonzales. They do have Portis, but he is NO Priest, that is for sure. It isn't genreal talent that make a system work, but the correct kind of talent for that system that makes it work. My last example is the "Skins line was not built for all the pulling the CHIEFS do. We will see.

Al will adapt to the personnel they have.

My guess is that he will finally help Ramsey live up to his draft status, or Jason Campbell will get his shot.

They have a better WR corps than the Chiefs, and while Portis is no Priest or LJ, Al will utilize his talents better, and turn him into more of a weapon.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the 'Skins draft O-Lineman, or persue them in FA.

Deberg_1990
01-22-2006, 10:29 AM
I sure do miss Ivan. The Washington Post got a steal.

Mr. Laz
01-22-2006, 10:34 AM
btw ... Morton just said on NFL countdown that Gibbs will give up the playcalling for the first time in his career.

FringeNC
01-22-2006, 10:35 AM
Carter is to interesting as Whitlock is to fat and stupid.

There is more content in this Carter piece than there is an entire season's worth of Whitlock's crap. Whitlock doesn't know the meaning of the word objective. Everything he writes is filtered through his emotions.

SNR
01-22-2006, 10:59 AM
Elizabeth Merril is hotter

Phobia
01-22-2006, 12:10 PM
Al will adapt to the personnel they have.


Yeah. He did a great job games 1-4 of 2005.

siberian khatru
01-22-2006, 12:18 PM
the Chiefs were rarely hit with delay-of-game penalties

That's because they preferred to waste timeouts because they were late getting to the line because of confusion with, or tardiness with, the play call.

Bowser
01-22-2006, 12:19 PM
That's because they preferred to waste timeouts because they were late getting to the line because of confusion with, or tardiness with, the play call.

Maybe I'm wrong, but that seemed to be a first-half problem. I don't remember wasting many second half timeouts in that fashion.

Phobia
01-22-2006, 12:22 PM
I'd say it happened with frequency in both halves.

leviw
01-22-2006, 12:28 PM
There is more content in this Carter piece than there is an entire season's worth of Whitlock's crap. Whitlock doesn't know the meaning of the word objective. Everything he writes is filtered through his emotions.

It's not Whitlock's job to be objective. Nobody wants an objective columnist. He's supposed to write through his emotions.

That's the nature of the job.

As far as the Post getting a steal...Carter elected to move up to one of the best papers in the country. It's not about stealing. It's about a paper recognizing talent and offering a position to that talent. It's about the writer taking advantage of an opportunity and getting a raise in pay and moving up in the ranks of the business.

That's also the nature of the job.

Short Leash Hootie
01-22-2006, 01:20 PM
Two things I'd like to point out:

First, for the person who said Portis is no Holmes is right. Portis is a much better talent. (I mean come on, even when Priest was in his prime in KC he was merely a product of the system. After the hip injury, he was never the same. He transformed from the shifty Marshall Faulk type back into a power back and his YPC dropped by about a yard.)

Secondly, the Redskins don't exactly have the offensive talent that the Chiefs do. How is Santana Moss going to adjust into Saunders' system. Let's be honest, the WR position isn't really a glamour position in a Saunders system. Now you may be thinking, it wasn't a glamour position because we didn't have any good receivers...and I disagree. Saunders uses the 15 yard dig routes 90% of the time from his two outside receivers...so unless Santana is running the slots he's nothing more than an Eddie Kennison with an attitude.

You also have to think about how things are going to be between Gibbs and Saunders once things start going wrong...is Gibbs going to get one of his plays and go "no, that's shit...we're going to do this" and if that happens, how truly thrilled is AS going to be?

We'll see. Can a team be overcoached...by that, I mean will these three 'head coaches' begin to show too much ego or will they all work together and make the Redskins a dominate team.

With all that, I still predict a Redskins super bowl within three years.

FringeNC
01-22-2006, 01:27 PM
Two things I'd like to point out:

First, for the person who said Portis is no Holmes is right. Portis is a much better talent. (I mean come on, even when Priest was in his prime in KC he was merely a product of the system. After the hip injury, he was never the same. He transformed from the shifty Marshall Faulk type back into a power back and his YPC dropped by about a yard.)

Secondly, the Redskins don't exactly have the offensive talent that the Chiefs do. How is Santana Moss going to adjust into Saunders' system. Let's be honest, the WR position isn't really a glamour position in a Saunders system. Now you may be thinking, it wasn't a glamour position because we didn't have any good receivers...and I disagree. Saunders uses the 15 yard dig routes 90% of the time from his two outside receivers...so unless Santana is running the slots he's nothing more than an Eddie Kennison with an attitude.

You also have to think about how things are going to be between Gibbs and Saunders once things start going wrong...is Gibbs going to get one of his plays and go "no, that's shit...we're going to do this" and if that happens, how truly thrilled is AS going to be?

We'll see. Can a team be overcoached...by that, I mean will these three 'head coaches' begin to show too much ego or will they all work together and make the Redskins a dominate team.

With all that, I still predict a Redskins super bowl within three years.

The WR was a glamour position in the original Air Coryell version, and the Martz version.

FringeNC
01-22-2006, 01:30 PM
It's not Whitlock's job to be objective. Nobody wants an objective columnist. He's supposed to write through his emotions.

That's the nature of the job.

As far as the Post getting a steal...Carter elected to move up to one of the best papers in the country. It's not about stealing. It's about a paper recognizing talent and offering a position to that talent. It's about the writer taking advantage of an opportunity and getting a raise in pay and moving up in the ranks of the business.

That's also the nature of the job.

I think you owe Kansas City residents an apology. He writes articles like that in Washington. Are you suggesting that KC residents are too unsophisticated to appreciate such columns?

Logical
01-22-2006, 01:59 PM
I miss Ivan.Yup, he is no Nick Athan.

Logical
01-22-2006, 02:08 PM
So who esactly do the 'Skins have to be their Green, Holmes and Gonzales. They do have Portis, but he is NO Priest, that is for sure. It isn't genreal talent that make a system work, but the correct kind of talent for that system that makes it work. My last example is the "Skins line was not built for all the pulling the CHIEFS do. We will see.

I think you may be wrong on the the pulling, just because they have not been doing it does mean they won't be able to do so. Al will turn Portis back into the monster he was in Denver. Portis may be the most overall talented back in football, he is just not really built to run the power running style Gibbs had him running in the last two years.

leviw
01-22-2006, 02:11 PM
I think you owe Kansas City residents an apology. He writes articles like that in Washington. Are you suggesting that KC residents are too unsophisticated to appreciate such columns?

I'm guessing this was a guest column for Ivan, because he was around Al in KC, so the Post asked him to give insight on the new OC.

Ivan is a beat writer (I think Wizards now, used to be Maryland). He is not a columnist. He does not normally write columns. His job is to be objective. Whitlock's job is to offer opinions. Both do excellent work.

That said...to each his own.