It’s not the first time that Al Saunders’ name has come up as a target to join the Raiders’ coaching staff in some capacity. Whether the longtime offensive guru was rumored to be a head coach or offensive coordinator for the Silver and Black, nothing had ever come from any of the stories — except another story from the Raiders announcing someone else being hired instead.
While ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Saunders has been hired to run the offense in Oakland, and citing ‘league’ sources for the report, the Raiders have yet to officially announce it themselves or update their website with his name at the time of this posting.
Late Thursday night, Jerry McDonald reported that beat writer Steve Corkran had reported, ‘sources familiar with the situation say Al Saunders has been hired as the Raiders’ offensive coordinator.‘ Knowing Corkran and McDonald, you can take that report straight to the bank.
Saunders has worked for some of the great coaches in the history of football. He began his career at USC under John McKay as a graduate assistant and moved on to eventually coach under Johnny Majors (Tennessee Vol’s), Don Coryell (Chargers), Marty Schottenheimer (Chiefs), Dick Vermeil (Rams and Chiefs), and Joe Gibbs (Redskins).
For the last two seasons, Saunders has been with the Baltimore Ravens as an offensive consultant and senior offensive assistant. In nearly every stop as an offensive coach, Saunders has either been a part of, or responsible for, a high-powered offense. Many of those accomplishments can be found on his Ravens’ bio — where the Ravens also haven’t bothered to update his status.
With a coach of Saunders’ stature, it’s uncommon he’d take a job where he won’t have controll of the offense. At Hue Jackson’s annointment ceremony on Tuesday, the new Raiders front man stated, “I’m going to be the primary playcaller, but we’re going to do everything we can to recruit the best staff for the Oakland Raiders.“
There were rumors that the Raiders were also interested in then Ravens defensive backs coach Chuck Pagano. Unlike in Saunders’ case, Baltimore had a defensive coordinator position open up, and elevated the former Raiders assistant to the position.
Pagano, who coached defensive backs under Norv Turner in 2005 and Art Shell in 2006 for the Raiders, told reporters after his promotion that he never considered coming back to Oakland. “Two years was plenty,” said the Ravens’ newly annointed defensive coordinator about coaching in Oakland.
While Pagano obviously has hard feelings about Oakland, he’s still fond of Jackson who coached with him in Baltimore. Pagano congratulated Jackson before saying, “He will earn every cent that they pay him, and it won’t be much.“
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