Offensive coordinator Al Saunders. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: What do you think of this defense that you're facing?
Coach Saunders: Well, Wade [Phillips] has done a great job with that defense. They play very disciplined, they're physical, they've got a new look – they've gone from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 scheme, and we have a lot of respect for what they're doing. I have a lot of respect for Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator. He's got them playing very, very well.
Q: You are kind of just starting to get all your wide receivers back. How much more can you do with the playbook?
Coach Saunders: It's not about how much more you can do. The receivers we have are exciting players and it's nice to be able to have a full complement of those guys healthy. We'll continue to build on what we've done and it's just having different people do different things so they're a special group. We're excited about the return of our players that weren't able to finish training camp.
Q: At this point in his career, is Jason [Campbell] beyond being thrown off by an interception like that first one? Or can he put those things aside better than he couldn't say seven years ago?
Coach Saunders: I know one thing – he's had two of his best days of practice these last two days and Jason is very, very competitive. He's taken his team to the national championship in college, he's taken a high school team to a championship. Everywhere he's been, he's been a successful player and in that position if you don't have the ability to put a play behind you and go to the next play, it's real difficult. But, he has an ability to do that. He's a very focused young man and he's a very bright guy. If you look at his statistics right now, he's playing as well as he's ever played in his career. I think his quarterback rating in the fourth quarter is 112.0 or something like that; third-highest rated quarterback in the National Football League. He's doing a great job on third days and a situation like that, he'll just move to the next play. I'm real excited about the way he's practiced this week. I know he's anxious to play that next game.
Q: How do you weave in all of the wideouts? You've got six guys healthy. Do you go with the hot hand or do you go with the guys that are best suited for a given play?
Coach Saunders: Well, we have the availability of some players that will give us an opportunity to do different kinds of things and typically, you'll have different packages for those. We try not to ask a player to do what he can't do and try to accentuate the positives of his abilities. So, there'll be different packages for the different receivers that we have.
Q: What makes [Darren] McFadden unique?
Coach Saunders: Oh gosh. The good Lord blessed him with a great deal of talent, for one. He's just got exceptional vision, he has a tremendous burst, and he's got great speed. I've said this before – he's a three dimensional player; he can run, he can catch, and he can block. He gives you a dimension in the backfield or outside of the backfield. He's just a real special, gifted young man that just continually gets better on a week-to-week basis.
Q: These last couple of games, you guys were able to get Kevin Boss involved early on. How is he progressing as he's been catching up after missing his first couple of weeks?
Coach Saunders: Yeah, he's doing a great job. He's a real bright guy and typically, that position in this offensive system is a very strenuous position mentally. Guys like Tony Gonzalez and the Kellen Winslows and the Chris Cooleys – those guys have played in this system and done it extremely well. They've done a good job because it's so extremely complex. They have to be tight ends, they have to be wide receivers, they have to be players that can play in the backfield, and what he's done is exceptional. He's come in, really taken to this system well, has really done a great job catching the football, and done a nice job blocking for us.
Q: He seems to be able to get down the field extremely well for a tight end. You could get him involved deeper than some tight ends. How does that open the offense?
Coach Saunders: Well, he's a big target. Gosh, he's 6'7" and those strides are pretty long. He gobbles up a lot of ground with each one of those strides, so his speed – his rate of turnover is probably not as electric as a Jacoby Ford but he gains ground and he's done a nice job for us. Oh and yes, we can use him up the field and we will.
Q: You put up a lot of yards last week but only 19 points; you out-gained the Patriots. How do you get into the end zone more? How do you put more points on the board?
Coach Saunders: You score when you're down there. I think right now, we're one of the top 10 teams in the National Football League in red zone production touchdown-wise. You run the ball, you catch the ball, and you don't turn it over and that's usually the best way to get points on the board. If you're inside the 20 yard-line and you give the ball to the other team, obviously, you're taking it off the scoreboard yourself. But, that's one of strong suits of this football team the last four games in the big picture is our ability to score in the red zone and we hope to continue to do that.
Q: Only two sacks in four games. Did you see this coming with this group?
Coach Saunders: Right. It's an emphasis the offense has made and we said, going into training camp, that we do not want the quarterback hit and that's the responsibility of everybody. It's the responsibility of the quarterback to make quick decisions, to make decisions to get ride of the ball; when to run it, when to throw it away. It's the decisions of the receivers to be accurate in their routes and precise in what they do and it's the offensive line – you know, their ability to pick up the different blitzes and dogs in games that we see every week. It's a collective effort of 11 players making an emphasis on something you need to do in this league in order to be successful at a high level and that's what we've been trying to do. We're real excited about the development of our protection unit in the passing game and we still have a lot of things that we need to get better at and we'll continue to work on those things. But, we're real happy about that phase of our game right now.
Q: You got to get this game out of the way and worry about, but are you eager to get a look at [Terrelle] Pryor on the practice field next week?
Coach Saunders: Yeah. I'm real excited to see him. We had him for a few days in training camp. Of course, anytime you get a young player, he's been really up-beat. We're looking forward to seeing what he can do.
Q: You've been able to see him in meetings?
Coach Saunders: Yeah, he's been in all our meetings and he's taken to the offensive terminology in this system real well. He's done a nice job with that. He's been working out everyday and we're excited for when he has the opportunity to join us as a player.