Tuesday was an exciting day for the Raiders and their fans with the introduction of Jon Gruden as head coach.
Owner Mark Davis, Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie were upbeat at Gruden’s news conference, and all three seemed eager for Gruden to get rolling. Gruden also named some of his coaching staff Tuesday, including offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Olson also served with the Raiders in an earlier stint as offensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014 before being fired. At the time, Raiders fans weren’t happy with the offense or his play-calling. It was Derek Carr’s rookie season as starting quarterback, and things were rocky in a 3-13 season.
In November of that 2014 season, Olson acknowledged the Raiders’ running attack was terrible – averaging just 63 yards per game – and Carr was up-and-down.
“I understand the frustration, and I don’t think there is anybody that this has affected more than myself,” Olson told reporters at the time.
Olson promised to do a better job as offensive coordinator, saying, “We’ll just keep working every day and try to get better. Again, it’s not my first year as a coordinator. It’s certainly not my best, obviously. But there will be better days ahead.”
So, why should Raiders fans expect anything different this time around?
For one, Carr is more established and the team as a whole is much better than it was in 2013-2014. It’s also had a taste of winning and wants to get back on that track. Second, Gruden will the overall architect of the offense and the one who calls plays during the game. And third, Olson has coached with Gruden before and had success this past season as quarterbacks coach of the Los Angeles Rams (working for another Gruden disciple, Sean McVay) helping Jared Goff improve significantly from 2016.
Tuesday, Gruden told Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times that Olson’s previous stint with Carr in Oakland is a plus, not a minus.
“His intel there will be very important,” Gruden told Klein. “He coached with me in Tampa and he coached with Sean McVay, one of my ex-assistants in L.A., so the system of football that we run there will be a real natural flow.”
McVay told Klein that he’s curious to see what type of offense Gruden will install – and Olson will be in charge of – in Oakland.
“Will he run the same offense that he was running when I got a chance to work with him in Tampa? Or will he implement some of the different things that he’s had a chance to kind of continue to get exposure to over the last handful of years?” said McVay. “Either way, hate the fact that we’ll have to go against him next year. It will be fun.”
Goff, who had a terrific season in 2017 – looking like an entirely different QB than in his rookie season – said Olson was a key to his turnaround.
“We can’t thank him enough,” Goff told a reporter in Los Angeles. “I think we talked about it … 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.”
Now the Raiders and their fans hope Olson’s second time around in Oakland will produce the same kind of results with Carr in 2018.