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Saunders Adds 27 Years of Expertise


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

During his 27 years of coaching, **Al Saunders** has engineered some of the greatest offenses in the game's history.

They're offenses worthy of nicknames, like "Air Coryell" and "The Greatest Show on Turf."

Now, the Ravens are looking to sap every last piece of knowledge out of Saunders and hoping to get a renowned offense in the process.

Saunders has been recently promoted to Senior Offensive Assistant for the 2010 season. He will specifically assist Offensive Coordinator **Cam Cameron** in establishing game plan strategies and work on the field with the Ravens' tight ends and wide receivers.

"We are very fortunate to have him involved here," Cameron said. "He has as much experience in our system as anybody in the league. By the end of the year, we will have stolen every great idea he ever had (smiling)."

Saunders' background in the Coryell Offense, the same system run in Baltimore, is a major reason why both parties were interested in joining forces.

In 1983, Saunders got his NFL coaching start as a wide receivers coach under former San Diego Chargers head coach Don Coryell, who gave birth to the Coryell Offense that has now spread throughout the league.

Saunders absorbed the system and became one of its most accomplished disciples along with legendary former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz and San Diego Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner.

It was 19 years later when Cameron came through the San Diego system, serving as an offensive coordinator there for five years and forming his own version of the Coryell offense. In just a couple years, San Diego's offense ranked near the top in scoring. In 2006, it led the NFL.

In a nutshell, the Coryell offense is a combination of deep and mid-range passing and power running. Its main elements are a strong-armed quarterback, at least two deep receiving threats and a grinding inside run game.

Each coach adds to the skeleton* *and bend it to fit their personnel and home climate. But there's a basic belief that resonates with all of the system's subscribers.

"It's a real great marriage in terms of ideas and philosophies," Saunders said. "Cam and I are so close to the philosophical approach to football and how to do things with the quarterbacks and receivers and passing game that it's really an enjoyable thing for me to be here."

Saunders won a Super Bowl with "The Greatest Show on Turf" in St. Louis in 2000. His Kansas City offense ranked in the top five in the NFL during Saunders' five-years as the Chiefs offensive coordinator, including first in the league in 2004 and 2005. Saunders was an assistant head coach for two seasons in Washington and an offensive coordinator in St. Louis in 2008.

Saunders could have retired to his home in Northern Virginia – or at least taken some time off – last year. But he joined the Ravens during training camp because he saw something special in Baltimore.

He said the opportunity to join Head Coach **John Harbaugh** and be a part of the building process of Cameron's offense was something he wanted to be a part of. And joining an organization that Saunders said has an opportunity to win a world championship didn't hurt.

"I'm at the stage of my career where I really enjoy the strategy of the game," Saunders said. "But most of all, you like working with the players to help their skills get really better. So I'm really enjoying where I am right now."

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