Saunders Staying Put

Chiefs fans were a bit miffed on Saturday when reports surfaced that Al Saunders had interviewed with the Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears. Part of it was true and part of it wasn't.

Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders did conduct a brief interview with Oakland Raiders officials in Kansas City on Friday. The meeting was to confirm or deny any interest Saunders has in coaching the Silver and Black. Apparently the interest level was not very high.

Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil confirmed on Saturday that Saunders met with the Raiders. He also indicated that Saunders was not interested in the job. He made it very clear to the press that Saunders was very happy in Kansas City and again reiterated that he hoped Saunders would succeed him when he retires after the 2005 season.

Saunders according to Vermeil would only leave the Chiefs if there was an incredible opportunity elsewhere. Based on the vacancies and the organizations looking for head coaches since the season ended, nobody else needs to be calling Saunders.

The Chicago Bears realized this very quickly as they initially sought permission to talk with Saunders but backed off from a potential interview when Saunders indicated a preference to stay in Kansas City since Vermeil had decided to come back and coach the team the next two years.

ESPN had reported that the Bears met with Saunders on Friday but Dick Vermeil says that was not the case. To his knowledge the Bears had not made contact with Saunders.

Because of league rules no other assistant coaches on playoff teams who are still alive will be allowed to talk to any other NFL teams until their own team has been eliminated from the playoffs.

It's safe to assume that Saunders is going to stay with the Chiefs. Now that could change but Saunders must feel secure enough within the organization that he has a legitimate shot at succeeding Vermeil.

The interview with the Raiders was more out of courtesy and to keep his hat in the ring in the open market just in case he has a change of heart. It's prudent to at least interview for these positons when they opportuniy presents itself. Even though Saunders had zero interest in the Raiders job, it's good business to go ahead and do it.

This should put to rest anymore coaching issues within the Chiefs organization. Whenever the Chiefs season ends, Vermeil and Chiefs President Carl Peterson will iron out a two-year contract extension that will include his assistant coaches. Vermeil has already indicated that all of his coaches could return but he did leave the door open for the possible ouster of defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.

Robinson has been under the gun to improve the teams defense for the post season. If the Chiefs have a poor defensive showing, Robinson could be replaced. But even if the Chiefs get to the Super Bowl and win it, Robinson's future is not set in stone. Vermeil was not as supportive publicly for the first time on the status of Robinson for next season. He told the local media that he's be evaluated after the season.

In Other Chiefs News:

Linebacker Mike Maslowski had pain in his knee at Saturday's practice and sat out the rest of the workout. Maslowski is listed as questionable for Sunday's AFC playoff game. Without Maslowski the Chiefs defense averages 60 more rushing yards per game. They'll need their middle linebacker back if they want to be successful against the run. Rookie Kawika Mitchell has not done the job replacing Maslowski.

Linebacker Monty Beisel should be back in action next Sunday. Beisel seems to be recovered from the groin injury that has forced him to miss the last four games of the regular season.

Cornerback Eric Warfield also practiced on Saturday and his strained back appears fit. Warfield's replacement William Bartee did an outstanding job filling in for him in the season finale against the Chicago Bears. The Chiefs hope that game gives Bartee confidence to perform well in the playoffs.

The NFL announced that four Chiefs would be starters in the Pro Bowl Game February 8th in Hawaii; fullback Tony Richardson, left tackle Willie Roaf, right guard Will Shields and tight end Tony Gonzalez.

The Chiefs will be interested observers for todays AFC Wild Card Game that features the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. If the Colts win, they will be at Arrowhead next Sunday. But if the Broncos win, then the Tennessee Titans will play the Chiefs next Sunday. The Titans defeated the Baltimore Ravens 20-17 on Saturday in their wild card game.


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