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Saunders will call plays per ESPN


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For the first time in his Hall of Fame coaching career, Joe Gibbs will turn over the offense and play-calling to someone else, ESPN's Chris Mortensen has learned.

New offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who, like Gibbs, has ties to former NFL offensive guru Don Coryell, will take over those duties for the 2006 season.

While Gibbs will remain actively involved in game planning and offensive strategy, team sources say Gibbs will embrace more of a CEO/GM mentality and turn his attention even more to the personnel side -- such as the big decisions as to whether to trade backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey and keep linebacker Lavar Arrington.

The Redskins offense finished 11th in the league but faded toward the end of the season and during the playoffs because of a knee injury that slowed down quarterback Mark Brunell and injuries to receivers on the other side of wide receiver Santana Moss.

Saunders was a natural fit because he learned the system of Gibbs and Coryell in San Diego as an assistant coach from 1983 through 1985. Saunders became the Chargers head coach from 1986 through 1988, where he compiled a 17-22 record.

Saunders ran one of the NFL's hottest offenses with the Chiefs. Kansas City finished first in the league averaging 387 yards a game in 2005. They averaged 25.2 points a game. In his five seasons as Kansas City's offensive coordinator, the Chiefs never ranked lower than No. 5 in the NFL in total offense, and were No. 1 each of the last two seasons.

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