American Football Database
Al Saunders
Current position
Title Senior Offensive Assistant
Team Oakland Raiders
Personal information
Date of birth (1947-02-01) February 1, 1947 (age 75)
Place of birth London, England
Career information
College San Jose State University
University of Southern California
Head coaching record
Career record 17–22 (.436)
Coaching stats Pro Football Reference
Team(s) as a coach/administrator














(Graduate Assistant)
(Wide Receivers)
Utah State
(Play-Caller/Offensive Backfield)
(Asst. Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)
(Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)
San Diego Chargers
(Wide Receivers)
San Diego Chargers
(Head Coach)
Kansas City Chiefs
(Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers)
St. Louis Rams
(Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers)
Kansas City Chiefs
(Offensive Coordinator)
Washington Redskins
(Asst. Head Coach)
St. Louis Rams
(Offensive Coordinator)
Baltimore Ravens
(Offensive Consultant)
Oakland Raiders
(Offensive Coordinator)
Oakland Raiders
(Senior Offensive Assistant)

Al Saunders (born February 1, 1947) an American football coach, currently employed by the Oakland Raiders.

Early life and playing career

Born in London, England, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1960, and is one of four foreign-born coaches in the NFL. In college played defensive back and wide receiver for the Spartans of San Jose State University (SJSU) from 1966–1968 where he was a three-year starter, team captain, and an Academic All-American. Saunders also joined Theta Chi fraternity while at SJSU.

Coaching career

In the 1970s, Al Saunders joined the coaching staff at USC and San Diego State University (SDSU), whose SDSU Aztecs were then under the control of Head Coach Don Coryell. Saunders would go with Coryell to NFL when Coryell became the head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

From 1983–1985, Saunders was the wide receivers coach for the Chargers. He became the assistant head coach for the 1986 season, and was tapped as the Chargers' head coach when Coryell resigned during the middle of the season.[1] Saunders would eventually hold the head coaching position from 1986-1988.[2]

From 1989–1998, Saunders was with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he served as the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach under Marty Schottenheimer.[3]

Saunders would then join the St. Louis Rams coaching staff. From 1999-2000 he served as the wide receivers Coach under Dick Vermeil and later as assistant head coach under Mike Martz. During this period, the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000.[4]

Saunders would rejoin the Kansas City Chiefs in 2001 as the offensive coordinator when Vermeil came out of retirement. In his second stint with the Chiefs, Saunders built the NFL's top offense, which was ranked #1 in the NFL from 2002–2005.[5]

On January 19, 2006, he joined the coaching staff of the Washington Redskins as the Associate Head Coach - Offense, reuniting him with fellow Don "Air" Coryell alumnus, Joe Gibbs.[5] At the time, his 3-year, $6 million contract made him the second highest paid assistant coach in the NFL behind Gregg Williams. Players such as recent additions Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd have claimed that the signing of Saunders to the Washington coaching staff was a major pull factor in their decision to sign with the Redskins. In this role, he served the team like he did in Kansas City, as the primary play caller and offensive coordinator.

Saunders' offensive playbook reportedly had approximately 700 pages of various plays.[6] Beginning with the third game of the regular season, Washington's offensive production increased but later fell.

In 2007, Jason Campbell dislocated his left knee in a week 14 game versus the Chicago Bears. Veteran back-up Todd Collins, who took over the reins and was very effective as he led the Redskins to four straight victories and into the playoffs. Collins' success can be attributed to the fact that he had been studying under Saunders' offensive scheme since 2001.

After Joe Gibbs retired as head coach of the Redskins on January 8, 2008 and Jim Zorn was hired as the new offensive coordinator by Redskins' owner Dan Snyder on January 25, Saunders was fired by Snyder on January 26.[7]

On January 30, 2008, Saunders was hired as offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams.[4] After Steve Spagnuolo was hired as head coach in January 2009, Saunders was informed he would not be retained for the upcoming season.

In 2009 Saunders was hired as an offensive consultant with the Baltimore Ravens.[8]

On January 20, 2011, Saunders was hired as the Offensive Coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.[9] Saunders was not the primary play caller, as Head Coach Hue Jackson called offensive plays during his lone season as Raiders head coach.

On January 31, 2012, following Hue Jackson's firing, new coach Dennis Allen named Greg Knapp as the team's offensive coordinator, replacing Saunders. After interviewing for several vacant offensive coordinator positions with other organizations, Saunders agreed to return to Oakland as Senior Offensive Assistant for the 2012 season.[10]


  1. "Coryell resigns after 1–7 start". The Palm Beach Post. 1986-10-30.,8070726. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  2. "Saunders of Chargers is out as coach". Lodi News-Sentinel. United Press International. 1988-12-20.,6288093. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  3. Tucker, Doug (2001-01-23). "Saunders returns as offensive guru". Daily Union. Associated Press.,1325522. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Rams hire Saunders as offensive coordinator". USA Today. Associated Press. 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Carter, Ivan (2006-01-21). "Saunders Has Been Known to Mix It Up". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  6. Jenkins, Sally (2006-09-25). "For This Week, A Complete Effort". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  7. "Redskins fire top two assistant coaches". United Press International. 2008-01-26. Archived from the original on 26 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  8. "Raiders to interview Al Saunders". ESPN. Associated Press. 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  9. report, 1-20-2011
  10. "Saunders Returns to Raiders Coaching Staff". Retrieved 2012-02-08.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jimmy Raye
Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Mike Solari
Preceded by
Hue Jackson & Don Breaux
Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Sherman Smith
Preceded by
Greg Olson
St. Louis Rams Offensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Pat Shurmur
Preceded by
Hue Jackson
Oakland Raiders Offensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Greg Knapp