Former Kansas City Chiefs Coordinator Talks Matt Cassel, Larry Johnson


You take one picture with Tom Cruise and ruin Google Image search forever.

Al Saunders was the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach for the Kansas City Chiefs with Marty Schottenheimer from 1989-1998 and offensive coordinator with Dick Vermeil from 2001-2005.

Is it a coincidence the Chiefs had some successful years in those time spans?

Saunders coached and later came back to coach again with two teams - the Chiefs and Rams.  Boy, I wouldn't mind one bit of Saunders came back to Kansas City as a coordinator.  No knock against Chan Gailey, who's done a fine job in his own right, but Saunders is the class of offensive coordinators.

Saunders joined The Border Patrol on 810 WHB last Thursday to talk football, his year off and the direction of the Kansas City Chiefs.  Here is a link to the interview.

For your convenience, I transcribed much of the interview which appears after the jump.  The best line?  "That defense was so, so bad last year."

On the direction of the Chiefs with a new quarterback, coach and GM:

It's kinda like it was in '89 when we came in with Marty.  Jack Steadman and John Mackovich was in that group and they really cleaned house and brought in Carl and brought in Tim Connelly and Marty and started all over with a new direction.

Probably it's good for every organization to do that some time if they've experienced a lack of success.  The Rams just did that with the GM, president, ownership and head coach and that'll get hthem back on rack.  Sometimes you just need a new attitude and a new direction.

They probably did it the right way by starting all over.  They just got it and put it together.  They have a young football team and outstanding young talent.  They brought in key veterans.  Losing Tony Gonzalez and Jared Allen the last two years probably doesn't help the talent level but they're trying to take it in a new direction.  They started from the ground up, their facilitiles are terrific and their training camp is new.  They're changing the culture the last few years.  It's probably the right way to go.

How long it takes them to be successful remains to be seen.

On the defense:

That defense was so, so bad last year.  But gosh Tyson Jackson is a great player.  And with the kid outta LSU last year we'll see if they can come along.

They've got three old linebackers that are very, very experienced.  i know Pendergast will play multiple defenses. 

It's important the LBs are adjustable and adaptable with a variety of responsbilities.

On KC's chances in the division:

it'll be interesting to see what they do.  Get LJ back on track and get Brian Waters back in camp.  Build that offensive line a little bit and you've got a chance to really surprise people because it's such a weak division.

Denver's kind of in a difficult situation, They're in a quandary.  The Raiders are stil struggling.  Kansas City could surprise some people if they get a different schedule (laughs).

On Matt Cassel:

He's a talented guy, obviously. 

Gosh, he played extremely well in a complex situation.

On Cassel vs. Trent Green:

His situation is a little different than Trent's.

The reason we went out with Trent was we wanted somebody familiar with the offense we were installing.

Matt Cassel is a little bit of a different guy from a system standpoint.  Haley runs a system similar to what we ran with Dick in the vertical game.  It'll be interesting to see how Matt transforms his abilities from what he played in New England to how he'll be used in Kansas City.  He won't be surrounded with as much talent in some of the areas but he can make things happen.  He gets rid of the ball quickly.  He's an accurate passer and he's obviously got some toughness (since he took a lot of sacks last year).

On Larry Johnson:

Yeah I do think (he has something left in the tank).  He's got some real talent.  He's more of a one dimensional guy than someone like Priest.  When we had Priest he was playing at a very high level of efficiency.

When we drafted Larry it was because of his physicalness and ability to run the football. 

He's a very physical player.  You know i've always liked Larry.  Dick Vermeil liked Larry a lot.  That diapers comment has been hashed out a lot but all he meant to say was that it's your time and time to do it yourself when Priest got hurt.

I think this guy is physical.  If he gets his head right and if he's managed the right way and put in a situation where he doesn't have to do things where he's not real accomplished and take advantage of his down hill running ability.

I'm sure Chan will utitize his talents. 

You can't ask people to do what they can't do.

On Lamar Hunt and former boss Daniel Snyder:

There was not a more gracious and kind human being and lover of sports than Lamar Hunt.

Kansas City was so fortunate to have him as an owner of that team.  Daniel Snyder is a bit different.  He's more of a fan that owns a football team.  He's so passionate about the Redskins.

Do you ever talk to Carl Peterson?

i haven't talked to Carl in a while. 

I asked (Dick) how Carl was doing (but we haven't talked to him).

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