Raiders

Saunders Comes On Board As Raiders Offensive Coordinator

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Al Saunders

Al Saunders. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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ALAMEDA (AP) — The Oakland Raiders have officially hired longtime NFL assistant Al Saunders as their offensive coordinator.

The Raiders updated their coaching roster on their website Tuesday. The only newcomer on the list is Saunders, although there are still many other openings to fill, most notably defensive coordinator.

Among the coaches from last season’s team no longer listed on the site are offensive line coach Jim Michalczik, quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett, linebackers coach Mike Haluchak, assistant offensive line coach Chris Morgan, and passing game coordinator Ted Tollner.

Most of the other coaches from last season’s team are at the Senior Bowl in Alabama with new head coach Hue Jackson, who was hired to replace Tom Cable last week.

Saunders spent the past two seasons as an offensive consultant in Baltimore. He was on the same staff as Jackson in 2009. Jackson joined the Raiders this past season as offensive coordinator.

Saunders has been coaching in the NFL for nearly three decades.  He went 17-22 in two-plus seasons as head coach for the San Diego Chargers from 1986-88 and has spent most of his career as a respected offensive assistant. He has interviewed in the past for openings in Oakland and finally got the job this time.

Saunders is already familiar with the top two quarterbacks on Oakland’s roster. He was offensive coordinator for two years in Washington with Jason Campbell and was the coordinator in St. Louis in 2008 when Bruce Gradkowski spent time with the Rams.

While Saunders is on board as the coordinator, Jackson will retain the primary play-calling duties in Oakland next season.  Jackson helped oversee a vast improvement on offense this past year, as the Raiders finished sixth in the league in scoring with 410 points—more than doubling their total from 2009.

Along with the quarterbacks, Saunders will have a young group of skilled position players at his disposal. Running back Darren McFadden had a breakthrough season with 1,664 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns and teamed with Michael Bush on the league’s second-ranked rushing offense; tight end Zach Miller is going to the Pro Bowl after leading the team with 60 catches; speedy receivers Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey provide potential deep threats.

He spent eight seasons running offenses in Kansas City, Washington and St. Louis. His best success came with the Chiefs, who led the NFL with 380.9 yards per game and were second in scoring at 27.0 points per game during his five years running the offense from 2001-05.

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