Giving Olson Weapons On Offense
When Derek Carr led the Oakland Raiders to the playoffs in 2016-17 concluding what seemed to be a never-ending playoff drought, it was clear the Silver and Black had their franchise quarterback they’d long been searching for.
Last season Carr arguably had his worst output as a professional. Coming off a brutal leg injury, his stats regressed last year. While former Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing certainly had a hand in that, Carr’s mechanics still seemed off. Specifically, his deep ball was not akin to what Raider Nation had seen in his first three seasons and the lack of consistently attacking downfield successfully resulted in a more conservative approach. With the Raiders “Carr” not fully in drive like the team was accustomed to, the rest of the offense followed suit.
When Jon Gruden was hired, there was much debate about who he would pick to run the offense. He ended up grabbing Greg Olson.
Similar to Gruden, Olson is a familiar name to Raider Nation as well. He ran the offense in 2014, Derek Carr’s rookie season. While that offense wasn’t great, he didn’t have much talent to work with either. Matt Schaub was supposed to be the starter but he was replaced by a rookie in Carr before the season even started.
An injury-prone Darren McFadden was still playing for the Raiders, but would eventually be replaced by rookie running back Latavius Murray. The air attack was led by receivers James Jones, Rod Streater, Denarius Moore and at tight-end it was Mychal Rivera.
Donald Penn was the anchor of the offensive line on a unit that didn’t have much to brag about. Khalif Barnes, better known as False Start Machine, was playing alongside him at left guard while Stefen Wisniewski, Austin Howard, and Menelik Watson filled out the rest of the line.
Pro Football Focus didn’t list one elite starter on the offense. Marcel Reece was the only “high quality” starter. Just about everyone else was an “average starter”.
While many use the 2014 season as ammo to discredit Greg Olson and his talents as an OC, at the end of the day, it’s not a legitimate claim when considering the lack of talent he was working with.
Success On Resume
Olson was hired as the quarterbacks’ coach at Purdue University in the late 1990’s. While there, he played a key role in developing Drew Brees, who has gone on to have an incredible NFL career.
In the NFL, Olson was hired by the then St. Louis Rams in 2006 where he coordinated an offense led by quarterback Marc Bulger. Under Olson, Bulger threw for 4,301-yards while tossing 24 touchdowns and claiming the second lowest interception percentage in the NFL that season (1.4%). That offense was the fourth in NFL history to have a 4,000-yard passer (Bulger), a 1,500-yard rusher (Stephen Jackson), and two 1,000 yard receivers (Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce).
In 2009 Olson would serve as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers OC. In his time in Tampa Bay, Olson is credited with developing then-rookie QB Josh Freeman. Under Olson, Freeman threw for 8,898 yards and 51 touchdowns in his first three seasons. In 2010, Olson’s offense set franchise records in yards per play (5.61) average yards per rush (4.64), and average yards per pass (7.21). Freeman had the sixth highest passer rating in the league at 95.1 and threw the least interceptions in the league at six.
Last year Olson returned to the Rams as a quarterback coach. While there, he helped groom Jared Goff for his eventual breakout season. Goff appreciated that help. Via Turf Show Times Goff said,
“I think we talked about it Saturday night with the quarterbacks — everything he’s done has been awesome. It far exceeded my expectations, as far as what he’s done for myself and our whole quarterback room. And we’re very thankful for him.”
Looking ahead to next season, Olson will be taking over a talented offense filled with star power. Carr is only one year removed from being an MVP candidate and the offensive line is still one of the toughest in the league. With the strong likelihood of Olson rejuvenating Amari Cooper to return to form along with the addition of Jody Nelson and many talented younger wideouts, this receiving corps will be a potent aerial assault in 2018. With some gas left in the tank, all signs point to Marshawn Lynch as the work-horse back for next year. Given Olson’s resume with less talented rosters, this year the Raiders offense has the potential to be one of the best in the league under Greg Olson.