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Old 01-22-2006, 01:13 AM  
tk13 tk13 is offline
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Whitlock: Saunders is a legend in the media's mind

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansas...s/13682142.htm

Saunders is a legend in the mediaís mind
JASON WHITLOCK
Kansas City Star

Breaking news: Al Saunders did not invent the game of football.

This news, Iím sure, will shock many of my media brethren here in Kansas City, particularly those who earn a living hosting radio shows.

Saunders, however, did perfect the art of making insecure media members feel like theyíre the next Howard Cosell. Saunders scored more points with members of the media than the Chiefs did on the football field during Saundersí tenure as offensive coordinator.

Saunders returned every phone call, made love to every microphone put in his face, swapped locker-room hugs with Karen Kornacki, acted interested in Jack Harryís ticket- and parking-prices rants, shared conspiracy theories with the New Don Fortune, counseled The Freak Renshaw during a meltdown, memorized the name of Neal St. Davey B. Franz and offered me dieting tips.

Saunders worked the media. And judging by the drastic overreaction to his departure, he accomplished his goal. He convinced members of the media that the Chiefs absolutely cannot play football without him.

Unfortunately for Saunders, heís having a much harder time convincing NFL general managers and owners that heís Godís gift to football.

Thereís a reason that there were 10 NFL head-coaching jobs available, and Raiders owner Al Davis was the only man to pretend to be significantly interested in Saunders. The reason has nothing to do with Saundersí age (59) or his rocky relationship with Carl Peterson.

Around the league, Saunders is known as a climber, a self-promoter, a snake. The labels have stuck with him since his days as head coach in San Diego, where reporters there contend Saunders used insecure media puppets to back-stab Don Coryell to get the Chargers job.

So Iím not surprised that Saunders is on his way to our nationís capital to lead Joe Gibbsí offense while sources claim that Peterson promised Saunders the head-coaching position here. Oh, and what a twist, Saunders, a reporterís best friend, is shockingly unavailable for comment.

Yeah, when I learned that Saunders was inside Arrowhead Stadium on Friday, I made a special trip to Arrowhead to question him about Petersonís alleged promise. I left a message on Saundersí voice mail. I havenít heard from him.

Not only did I want to know about Petersonís promise, but I wanted to hear Saunders explain why nearly a third of the NFLís teams took a look at his stellar resume and hired 30-year-old kids. Now, keep in mind, Iím someone who believed ó until this messy departure from KC ó Saunders was worthy of getting a second crack as a head coach.

But this messy departure says a lot about Saunders. Consider that the St. Louis Rams didnít even grant Saunders an interview for their vacant head-coaching position. The Rams, despite pleas from Dick Vermeil, first pursued defensive-minded Gregg Williams and then changed course and hired Dolphins offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.

The evil and allegedly reneging Carl Peterson does not run the Rams franchise. He has no pull in St. Louis. John Shaw, the president of the Rams, knows Al Saunders quite well. Saunders worked in St. Louis with Vermeil and Mike Martz. Saunders couldnít get an interview. Thatís telling.

While Saunders has no problem connecting with star-struck members of the media, his connections with football folks arenít nearly as strong.

A week ago, long before there was a strong hint that Mike Solari would replace Saunders as offensive coordinator, a low-level member of the Chiefs family and a Saunders fan told me a revealing story.

During training camp, Vermeil singled out an assistant coach to speak to the team each night. The assistants were rather competitive about the speeches. They put a great deal of thought into connecting with the team.

My details may be a little sketchy, but the overall point is accurate. Saunders talked with the team about growing up with an illness (polio) that could be helped by daily swimming. Saunders said his dad took a job at a location that had a swimming pool so that Al could swim every day. Al said he swam every day to save his own life, and thatís how he wanted the team to approach the season.

The person who told me this story said he was very touched by Alís story and was surprised when he found players chuckling about Saundersí story when the meeting broke up.

ďThey thought it was made up or exaggerated,Ē he told me.

When it was Solariís day to speak, he showed a movie clip ó I believe from Clint Eastwood ó of a bunch of guys taking turns pounding a huge rock with sledgehammers. Solari said thatís how he wanted the team to approach the season.

ďWe gotta pound that rock.Ē

The players repeated Solariís theme throughout the season. In this instance, Solari connected and Saunders didnít.

Solari is quiet. Heís one of the most respected coaches in the league, but he totally avoids the spotlight. He pounds the rock year round and leads the strongest aspect of the Chiefs franchise ó the offensive line. No disrespect to Saunders, but the play of the Big Willies ó Willie, Will, Waters, Wiegmann and Welbourn ó has been far more impressive and effective than KCís play-calling or game planning.

Furthermore, Herman Edwards would be foolish if he failed to adjust Saundersí record-setting, playoff-winless offense. You have to adjust for Larry Johnsonís talents. You have to adjust so that your all-world tight end, Tony Gonzalez, is a bigger threat in the red zone. You have to adjust because Trent Green will be 36 next season.

I hope Saunders enjoys success in Washington. Gregg Williams, Gibbsí heir apparent, should watch his back. Washington owner Dan Snyder falls in love easily, and you can bet Saunders will tell Snyder everything he wants to hear.

As for things here, call me when the Chiefs players express outrage about Saundersí departure. Edwards wouldíve been stupid to retain Saunders as offensive coordinator. You donít keep a guy on the assistant-coaching staff who openly believes he should be the head coach unless the players love him the way the Chicago Bears loved Buddy Ryan.

Those of us in the media donít suit up. Our love of Saunders is irrelevant.
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Old 01-22-2006, 01:19 AM   #2
Rausch Rausch is offline
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OUCH.

I have no idea how accurate this article is but as much as Whitlock loves to bash CP and crew this would be an odd angle to take without any leg to stand on...
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Old 01-22-2006, 01:22 AM   #3
Tribal Warfare Tribal Warfare is offline
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Saunders leaving doesn't affect me much, but if Solari left I would've been pissed
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Old 01-22-2006, 01:43 AM   #4
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Old 01-22-2006, 01:44 AM   #5
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Holy ****ing shit...that is harsh. I don't think Whitlock will be on Al's X-mas card list next year/
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Old 01-22-2006, 02:10 AM   #6
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I read on one of the posts last week that AS tried to get the GM fired when he was in SD. This was a big factor in his getting passed over for all of the openings this year. I now believe it, and wonder why JW didn't bring this up.

Because of his position, JW is privy to info. that the general public isn't. This info. is usually the basis for his best columns. The rest of his stuff is crap.
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Old 01-22-2006, 02:38 AM   #7
DaWolf DaWolf is offline
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Thank you Whitlock. Yet more reasons to be grateful this guy didn't become our head coach...
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Old 01-22-2006, 02:57 AM   #8
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Wow j whit wrote a pretty article. Might have to give him rep if he shows up here.
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Old 01-22-2006, 05:05 AM   #9
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Uh-oh, I'm in trouble.

I agree with Whitlock 100%.

He basically hit on EVERY point I've brought up over the last 2 weeks.
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Old 01-22-2006, 05:20 AM   #10
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wow strong feelings about Saunders

I am a new user, didn't realize many of the things you spoke about in your post. It makes sense though, many teams were looking for a head coach but he didn't seem to impress anyone enough to bring him on board. Maybe another Norv Turner syndrome, great offensive coach but awful head coach? What is your opinion on Mike Solari, can he keep the offense putting up big numbers? I agree Tony should be used more in the red zone, he is big just put it up to him. What do you expect for 2006, my Dad thinks the Chiefs are on their way down, nothing personal just the age of much of the talent. I hope not, we've been there for so long just to get knocked out in the playoffs. I think Herm will get the defense playing much better this season. The run defense has already improved, just the pass defense. I don't get that though bringing in Knight and Surtain, these guys are good cover guys. What do you think?
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Old 01-22-2006, 05:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogcop_3121
I am a new user, didn't realize many of the things you spoke about in your post. It makes sense though, many teams were looking for a head coach but he didn't seem to impress anyone enough to bring him on board. Maybe another Norv Turner syndrome, great offensive coach but awful head coach? What is your opinion on Mike Solari, can he keep the offense putting up big numbers? I agree Tony should be used more in the red zone, he is big just put it up to him. What do you expect for 2006, my Dad thinks the Chiefs are on their way down, nothing personal just the age of much of the talent. I hope not, we've been there for so long just to get knocked out in the playoffs. I think Herm will get the defense playing much better this season. The run defense has already improved, just the pass defense. I don't get that though bringing in Knight and Surtain, these guys are good cover guys. What do you think?
I suspect we'll see further defensive improvements and a little drop in offensive production. But the key is health, if our key guys (Roaf, Green, LJ, Gonzo) can avoid injuries, I really see us having a very good year and perhaps being the team we should have been the last 4 years. I am liking what Herm Edwards brings to the table so far. Of course it's only the offseason so what do I know...
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Old 01-22-2006, 06:02 AM   #12
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When it was Solariís day to speak, he showed a movie clip ó I believe from Clint Eastwood ó of a bunch of guys taking turns pounding a huge rock with sledgehammers. Solari said thatís how he wanted the team to approach the season.

ďWe gotta pound that rock.Ē
That is gullier than Jack Bauer.
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Old 01-22-2006, 06:06 AM   #13
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True

You are right, as long as our starters stay healthy it should be a playoff season. I like Herm as well he is different than Vermeil-not in a bad way. I just thought Vermeil was to buddy buddy with the guys sometimes. Herm seems to be very bold and blunt about things, he wants the team to succeed, I think he already he the players. I just saw this morning in his press conference that LJ is the starter for 06. Do you think Priest will be back knowing that? The whole dual running back didn't work in KC. Larry would have taken the rushing title undoubtedly if he played every game like Alexander did.
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Old 01-22-2006, 06:15 AM   #14
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ouch, that's going to leave a mark.

I do think Saunders is a hell of a OC. Just look at the Raiders game this year. They absolutely killed our game plan. We tossed it out the window, went with stuff we hadn't practiced and made it work. OTOH, I do think Saunders can be too biased towards system over players. Do you remember how long it took them to figure out Trent Green wasn't Donovan McNabb and that Priest Holmes was a stud? Roughly a year and a half went by that he tried to run the Rams offense with some very shitty receivers before figuring out we should be pounding the ball and running screens to open up the deep play action game.
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Old 01-22-2006, 06:16 AM   #15
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I think Priest might come back in a reduced role. He was there when he backed up Jamal Lewis and the Ravens rode them both to a Super Bowl. I think Priest can help this team AND reduce the wear and tear on LJ. I think a big reason LJ was so effective the last 9 games or so was because he was fresh. If he takes that kind of pounding from day 1 I don't see him being as effective near the end of the season. But LJ needs to be the starter and touch it 25+ times a game from day 1...
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