Greg Olson doesn’t have the name recognition of Mike Martz or Norv Turner, and he lacks the familiarity with the Raiders roster that current assistant Al Saunders has.
But when the Raiders selected Olson as their new offensive coordinator, they hired a veteran NFL coordinator who has had success in his lengthy career as an assistant coach in the league, and one who prefers a power-blocking scheme that is more favorable for Oakland running back Darren McFadden.
Olson, who this past season served as assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach in Jacksonville, has spent six seasons as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, for Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay and, reported Bill Williamson of ESPN, who covers the AFC West, “Olson has a solid reputation in the NFL.”
One of the main beneficiaries of Olson coming on board could be McFadden, who had a very disappointing season in 2012 trying to run in the zone-blocking scheme instituted by coordinator Greg Knapp, who was fired after the season by head coach Dennis Allen. McFadden averaged almost 2 yards per carry less in 2012 than he did in 2011.
“Olson is expected to run a downhill, power-run attack in Oakland,” wrote Williamson. “Primary tailback Darren McFadden excelled in such an offense in 2010-11.”
In Olson’s two seasons as Rams offensive coordinator in 2006 and 2007, running back Steven Jackson had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, including a career-high of 1,528 in ’06. And, when Olson was coordinator in Tampa Bay, running back LeGarrette Blount had a 1,000-yard rushing season and young quarterback Josh Freeman had his best seasons.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie last week told the Bay Area media that he believes Allen did the right thing by letting go of Knapp and three other assistants after the season because he realized that things weren’t working.
If Olson can get McFadden back on track – running more straight-ahead plays -- the Raiders will have both a veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer and a solid running back in McFadden, a good nucleus going into 2014.
“I’m not an offensive guru, but I do know when Darren is running certain plays, it’s pretty doggone good, and he had some last year,” McKenzie said. “But when you talk about a scheme, he’s not a lateral mover. He’s not one of those guys. As soon as he can go north and south, that’s when he’s at his best.”
The Raiders still need an offensive line and linebackers coach, but they did fill their special-teams opening by hiring longtime NFL special teams coach Bobby April, who previously served with the Eagles.