Gregg And Al (Reunited in St. Louis, And It Feels So Good?)
Would not be surprised to see both of these back with new teams before the Redskins sort their search out.
Both are highly in demand. At least 4 teams contacted Williams shortly after he was released from his contract yesterday and he's expected to begin interviewing for jobs this week. Tennessee and St. Louis were already granted permission to speak to him, and several other teams have called since Williams was let go.
Several players called me today to say how shocked they were that Williams was gone, especially in light of the way the unit bonded in the aftermath of Sean Taylor's death, how much they loved playing for him. "It was a shock to me and the rest of my teammates," one veteran said. "That part is tough to take." Keeping it in-house with Blache helps, but it remains to be seen what's in store for long-time Gregg Williams coaches like Jerry Gray, Steve Jackson and Danny Smith.
The team is putting out the word they want everyone back, but if Williams leaves for another coordinator position some coaches could follow. And some of these staff members will be gone regardless in all likelihood.
As for Al, St. Louis is deep into talks with him for its vacant offensive coordinator position, but some league sources believe that if the Raiders head coaching job opens he could be a possibility there as well. Saunders would be a perfect fit in St. Louis, having been there during the glory years with Dick Vermeil.
Daniel Snyder was negative about the performance of Saunders and QB coach Bill Lazor to many people this off season and several sources involved in the hiring process believe they would be let go no matter who the coach was. (Yesterday the team confirmed that Lazor was fired, then un-confirmed it a few hours later, saying the next coach could pick his QB coach. As of this morning no one had the courtesy to tell Lazor one way or the other. The Redskins have trouble keeping things straight. Does Cerrato control the roster or doesn't he? Oh, the contradictions in that press release).
Anyway, I feel bad for Al because he was always handcuffed here by Gibbs and his long-time assistants. Team sources said Saunders was not even a part of some planning meetings and there were very much two factions within the offensive staff, players and coaches said, with Saunders, his son Bob and Lazor often the outsiders. Gibbs and his guys set the table and had strong feelings about offensive philosophy that did not always mesh with Al's system ... yet Al was the guy calling the plays.
And Al did call the plays, but Gibbs made it clear what he believed in, with the heavy emphasis on the run game in certain game plans, etc. Gibbs also picked the Qbs, etc. So again, the deck was stacked against Al. But I also think Saunders should have found a way to focus more on the assets of young QB, eliminate chunks of the playbook and focus more on what fit the personnel.
There was too much volume, veteran players said, with hybrids of West Coast stuff, Coryell stuff, power running. If you get it down, it's awesome. But these guys never got it fully.
"It's a great system, it really is," one veteran said. "We were getting there but we pulled from so many different things. So it takes time to grasp it all." Saunders's footprints are already in St. Louis, though.
Also, the practices were not nearly catered enough to a young QB, players and coaches aid, as I wrote about in the paper late in the season. That's on Gibbs - was his domain - and no one else. The special situations late in games, going live in those pressure situations in practice and focusing on what was acrushing the team late in games was not emphasized nearly enough, numerous players and coaches said.
Saunders is very bright and motivated and he has a great system. I imagine they could do special things with some of the cogs with the Rams. Williams has built elite defenses everywhere he's been. Someone will be landing a heck of a football coach.
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