The Las Vegas Raiders continue to roll with Greg Olson as their offensive coordinator, but how does he stack up against the rest of the coaches in the AFC West?
Having great offensive minds is critical in today’s NFL. It’s easier than ever to score points, and teams that can take advantage of lax defensive rules can go far.
Good offensive coordinators turn good players into great ones, average players into good players, and make the lives of head coaches easier.
Among the four coordinators in the AFC West, who’s the best? There’s a pretty clear pecking order. Here’s the four of them ranked from worst to first, respectively.
4. Los Angeles Chargers – Joe Lombardi
Yes, that Lombardi. The grandson of the legendary coach Vince Lombardi joined the Chargers after an extended tenure with the New Orleans Saints.
Lombardi coached quarterbacks under Sean Payton and had success helping drive one of the more successful offensive teams of the decade. During his tenure, Drew Brees completed 69.9 percent of his passes for 44,278 yards and 338 touchdowns with 116 interceptions
New coach Brandon Staley will try to replicate that success with Justin Herbert. For now, number four on this list is appropriate until he cuts his teeth in the NFL. Plenty of QB coaches get their shot as offensive coordinators; some successful, some not. Herbert will go a long way towards establishing his offensive system. He gave the Raiders fits in 2020, not a bad start for the newly minted OC.
3. Denver Broncos – Pat Shurmur
While Joe Lombardi took the reigns as a newer offensive coordinator in the AFC West, the rest are established names. Pat Shurmur came over to the Broncos in 2020 to develop Drew Lock.
As you would expect in a Lock offense, the results were not pretty. The Broncos ranked 23rd in total yards, 28th in points, and 25th in passing touchdowns. I won’t suggest Shurmur’s offense is to blame however, they suffered through injuries and paltry quarterback play.
Passing on Justin Fields left Shurmur with a pretty bare cupboard at QB.
In his previous stops, like Philadelphia in 2013 and Minnesota in 2017, he was able to develop some pretty impressive offenses. Shurmur was able to secure head coaching gigs in between stints thanks to his reputation for scoring points.
While he was a pretty shoddy head coach, he does have some clout as a play-caller. Not enough to beat out the top two OCs however.
2. Las Vegas Raiders – Greg Olson
Jon Gruden is the king of this offense. Mark Davis didn’t throw $100 million in his direction for him to stand around and watch.
While Gruden is the play-caller, Greg Olson has Chucky’s trust developing gameplans and mentoring quarterbacks. Olson was the offensive coordinator for Derek Carr’s rookie year in 2014. Gruden brought him back in 2018 to establish rapport as he worked with Carr to teach his system.
2020 marked his third year as offensive coordinator. It was also his best.
The Raiders finished eighth in total yards and tenth in total points. Carr looked as good as he has since 2016. Darren Waller went ballistic and set a franchise record for 100-yard receiving games.
Gruden demands a lot from his coaches and players. While Olson isn’t in the spotlight, there’s no doubt he has a ton of responsibility for getting this offense ready to go on game day. For a stellar 2020 season, Olson takes the second spot.
None of these coordinators, however, hold a candle to the top play-caller.
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Eric Bieniemy
Andy Reid-led offensive coordinators get the short end of the stick. Working in the shadow of an offensive mastermind like Reid doesn’t help your reputation.
Reid, like Gruden, controls the offense and all components. His play-callers have a role but don’t always get the credit for their performance.
Eric Bieniemy has made his mark.
Hired in 2018 after five years in Kansas City as the running back coach, the Chiefs’ offense has been unstoppable ever since. Having Patrick Mahomes certainly makes life easier. The role of a coach, however, is to get the most out of players.
As good as Mahomes is, imagine this: Todd Downing rolls into town to coach offense. Does the offense maintain its annual ranking as a top-five unit? Doubtful.
He’s had three years manning the offense. In two of those years, the team was first in yards (2018, 2020). In 2018, they also claimed the top spot in points at the same time. There is no doubt about it: he’s the best OC in the AFC West.
You May Also Like: Three Raiders Who Could Earn New Contracts In 2022
*Top Photo: Steven Senne/Associated Press