Offensive coordinator Al Saunders
Al Saunders, 11-7-11
Q: How much farther along was Carson from last week through this game? What did you see that you liked?
Coach Saunders: Well, he about a week and a half farther along but ages farther along in the process. When you think about going and starting in a National Football League game and all that's required to do that, mentally, emotionally, physically -- I thought it was phenomenal. You don't realize how difficult it is to play that position. It's probably the most difficult position in sports. All of the things involved in what it takes to prepare and you have all those people relying on what you do verbally and physically and every other way. His performance was just outstanding in a lot of ways. There's some throws he'd like to have back and he'd be the first to tell you that, and there were some decisions that will be made that will be better as he becomes more accustomed to what we're doing and feels more comfortable. He was just light years along and every day he continues to progress. He's a terrific player and a very, very dedicated professional.
Q: Considering how new he is to the team, when you're preparing, do you have still have the same amount of play that you would normally going into it? Since he's still learning, do you have to scale back what you would like to do?
Coach Saunders: I had Joe Montana the last year that he played and he was still learning every day just like we are as coaches. I've been in the league 30 years and I'm learning every day so it's a continual process. You never have all of the volume that you would normally have and especially with players that have just come into your program regardless of the position they play. Especially the quarterback position, you have to cater to where they are and cater to their language and cater to what they've done in the past. But he's had a great experience and a great exposure in a very good offensive system and he's been with Hue, so a lot of the language is very similar. We've incorporated a lot of things that he's done in his past with what we're doing.
Q: How difficult is it to balance the personnel you have in a game and also identify what you do best as an offense and also have a personality?
Coach Saunders: Most offenses are personnel oriented. You try to put your players in a position where they can do what they do best and try not to ask them to do something that they have difficulty doing. Part of the personnel utilization is to maximize the talents of everybody you have, so there's always specific packages you use with different people.
Q: Do you think at any point the other day, Sunday, that you might have been using too many personnel groupings and throwing too much at Denver even with a quarterback like Carson that hasn't been here that long?
Coach Saunders: I think we were playing to Carson's strengths and I think he'd be the first to tell you that. He's outstanding at a lot of things and that was one area that you really don't have the maximum volume that you would normally have if you were going in that particular fashion.
Q:How's his cohesiveness or how have you seen the offense evolve after having that extra week of preparation and establishing rhythm and timing?
Coach Saunders: Well, it evolves on a daily basis and it's different every week because every opponent is different so how much you can utilize versus each opponent week to week grows as the foundation grows with the players that are newer.
Q: How would you characterize San Diego's defense and what do they like to do?
Coach Saunders: Well they're seventh in the league in defense. They're playing very, very well. They can run, they have great pass rushers, we have great respect for their secondary and we have great respect for the guys that line up in the front seven. They've got great speed and of course you play a team like that twice a year so you know their personnel fairly well, but they have some additions this year. [Takeo] Spikes is playing very well for them, is a great addition. They've got a young rookie corner that's stepped up and is playing extremely well. Their first round draft pick has done a nice job so they've got some very fine athletes that play very hard.
Q: Does it help that you have nine weeks of film on them since they did have some changes on defense in the offseason?
Coach Saunders: All information usually is positive and it's nice to have that much of a history, but it's a very short week and how much you can look at and how much you can actually utilize in your preparation is limited because of the number of days you have to prepare.
Q: The touchdown pass to [Marcel] Reece and the one to [Jacoby] Ford especially, those appeared to be glimpses of what Palmer can do that only a few quarterbacks can do in terms of putting the ball where it really needs to be. Do you see a lot more of those coming? Is he getting together with these guys to a point on the field where he can do that with some degree of regularity?
Coach Saunders: You'd like to see a whole bunch of those. They were special and that's really fun when you see somebody who's skilled at doing a particular task and do it that well. Those were beautiful throws and of course, both receivers did a great job of catching the football and the offensive line did a great job protecting. That's what it looks like when everybody does exactly what they're supposed to do. Carson is a gifted passer and those kind of things we'll come to expect of him and I think he expects those of himself.
Q: Will the turnovers, you think, slow down for him as he gets to know his personnel, where guys like to be and where he'll be able to find them?
Coach Saunders: I don't think there's any question about that. The passing game is a very delicate thing and it's choreographed to the point where timing and anticipation and rhythm is so important. When Carson throws the football, generally it's before the receivers get out of their break. What we tell the receivers is you have to be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there and never fool the quarterback. Those are the two axioms of that position because often times the anticipation and we're throwing to spots and not throwing actually to people. So the slightest depth mistake or the slightest angle mistake can create an opportunity for a turnover. And certainly we have to eliminate those and we'll I'm sure get better and better at reducing that number. At the beginning of the year I think we were one of the fewest turnover teams in the National Football League and when you incorporate new things it all of a sudden isn't as smooth as you'd like it to be, but I'm sure we'll get better in that regard.
Q: You talked about during Chiefs week, your remembrances from the other side with the Chiefs. You were also with the Chargers. What was it like when you were working for the Chargers against the Raiders?
Coach Saunders: Well we'll find out Thursday night, that'll be the first time. I had a fond experience in San Diego. That was with Don Coryell who was just one of the greatest coaches to ever live and it was just a wonderful opportunity to be with him. Having been the head coach there, succeeding Don, was a real special honor and privilege, so I have a real fond feeling for San Diego as spending 15 years in Kansas City, that was a special time too. Now we're the Raiders. This is where I grew up. I'm an Oakland guy so we want to go down there and do a heck of a job against them on Thursday night.
Q: But was that feeling about playing the Raiders as big a deal in San Diego as it was for Kansas City?
Coach Saunders: Yeah, in those days, the Raiders were always a rivalry for everybody. In the early '80s the Raiders were an outstanding football team and of course, the Raiders were always the team everybody wanted to beat. So now being on the other side, hopefully we can play very well on Thursday night.