Offensive coordinator Al Saunders with WR Shaun Bodiford. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Offensive coordinator Al Saunders joined the Raiders this year with over 40 years of coaching experience and most recently spending two years with the Baltimore Ravens as offensive consultant and offensive assistant. Head Coach Hue Jackson added Coach Saunders to the staff because he believes he is the best in the business. "He is the best Offensive Coordinator in the league and I am excited that he works for us and what he brings to this team; I can't even began to tell you," said Coach Jackson. "He allows me to be all I can be for this team, and what he does for our offense is just tremendous with the quarterbacks, with the offensive line— with the whole offense. It makes me very comfortable when I need to run around and be a part of defense and special teams, or anything. Al Saunders is definitely the right guy for me, for this organization and for this team."
Coach Saunders runs all over the field during practice, encouraging, teaching, and giving off infectious energy to his players. "It's awesome to have a coach like that that's out there," said QB Kyle Boller. "He's very detailed, he's high energy and in just the short amount of time I've been with him, he's already helped me out so much. So to have a guy like that, it makes it fun to come to work each day."
Every time a player makes a great play, Coach Saunders runs to congratulate him. Any time an offensive player messes up, he appears by his side to correct the mistake. "He's a great motivator," said WR Shaun Bodiford. "He's a great teacher. You mess up, he just tells you how to get it right. He expects a lot from you, he pushes you, and when it's time to get the job done, he'll let you know."
RB Louis Rankin learned about the Raiders offensive coordinator from his uncle, former NFL wide receiver Webster Slaughter, who played for Saunders many years ago. Slaughter told Rankin about Coach Saunders high energy. "My uncle actually played for him back in the day and my uncle was telling me how he is a great guy and he is very energetic," said Rankin. "When I came out here, I didn't know what to expect but he's really enthusiastic and he gets us all fired up. Every once in a while he says something to crack us up so it's really great to play for him."
The offense feeds off of Coach Saunders energy. "Coach Saunders is a very energetic guy," said TE David Ausberry. "It makes it a lot easier to go out there and want to perform for a coach that coaches with as much energy as you play. It's very fun to go out and play for him. He handles us right. It's one of those guys you want to go out and play for."
Coach Saunders enthusiastic and encouraging coaching style comes naturally. "I'm animated in the way I coach, I enjoy the game and I love the players," said Coach Saunders. "I think when somebody does something really well, they have to know they did it well. When they did it wrong, they have to know they did it wrong and how to correct it right away. I always felt that it was important to let people know that they did something well that we taught them during the week. Yesterday, Darrius [Heyward-Bey] had a couple of routes and a couple of catches that he hadn't made in a week. All of a sudden, he made that catch. Goodness gracious, that's like seeing your kid, he has his concert, he's playing the piano and he does it right. You're excited, you're fired up and that's kind of the way I am. I love this game, I love the people that play it and I really enjoy seeing people accomplish the things that you're trying to get them to do well. It's not an orchestrated thing; it's just the way I am and my personality."
Coach Jackson could not be happier with his choice of offensive coordinator. "We kind of play off of each other," said Coach Jackson. "He is fabulous. Trust me when I tell you, there is not a better offensive coordinator, in my opinion, in all of pro football. "
The players will have a day off tomorrow to rest and recuperate before returning to the practice field on Wednesday. The team will prepare for their match up this weekend with the San Francisco 49ers. Check in to Raiders.com, Facebook, and Twitter for complete coverage.