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Q&A with Raiders OC Greg Olson

Had a chance to talk with offensive coordinator Greg Olson Thursday afternoon, his first interview since an introductory meet-and-greet with the media following his hiring. Wrote a story on the developing offense for print in Friday’s papers, and the following is the Olson interview in its entirety:

Q: We haven’t talked since after you were hired and just getting to know your personnel. What do you see right now after a full off-season?

Olson: Well, we’re trying to identify, throughout this whole process, we’re trying to identify who are playmakers are, and I think we’ve done a good job with that. Certainly Darren McFadden’s going to be a very important piece of what you’re doing. We’ve got good competition at the tight end position and that will sort itself out as we go to training camp. Wide receivers, we found out that we’ve got a number of talented players there. It’s been a pleasant surprise. I think we’ve got great competition at that position. I think the offensive line is the strength of our unit, they show that throughout the three phases, the OTAs, the minicamp, the Phase I part of the program, and we’ve got good competition at quarterback right now. The biggest thing for us as a staff is let’s try to identify who the playmakers are, who to get the ball to, and let’s put in a base system, build it from the ground up, and get the players familiar with a lot, kind of throw everything at them so they’ve got a real good feel of what we’re going to try and get accomplished.

Q: Last year, a system was brought in and the philosophy was, `these are the plays we’re going to run.’ Players say you’ll stop them in the hallway to talk offense, sharing ideas . . . do you see offense as sort of an evolutionary concept as opposed to a system and a series of plays?

Olson: Yeah, I believe that, based upon collective bargaining and the way free agency is now. You can no longer put together a team of players and have them six or seven years together as a group. There’s a tremendous amount of turnover now because of free agency, so I think you’ve got to try and adapt your system based upon the players you have available and the players that have been drafted by the particular team that you’re on, then try and play to those players strengths. I’ve been exposed to a number of different systems and I think that’s helped me throughout my career. I’ve been in the West Coast system early on with Bill Walsh, through Steve Mariucci. I was in the Mike Martz-Scott Linehan system in St. Louis, which is also kind of Al Saunders’ background. I’ve been exposed to a number of different systems. I’ve been with Jon Gruden, and exposed to his version of the West Coast. And then with Mike Mularkey a guy that came from a very successful franchise in Atlanta. So I’ve been exposed to a number of different systems and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, you’d better adapt to the players you have on your team. You’d better not pigeon-hole yourself as in, `This is my system and this is what we’re going to do’ because that personnel may not match that system.

Q: Seeking player input, selling players on the system, was always a big thing with Gruden . . .

Olson: I would consider Jon probably my biggest influence in football because of his passion, his passion as a coach, his preparation, and his presentation, his presentation to the players is what you’re talking about, how to present it to him. He talked about that, let’s find out what these guys can do and when you get in that position, Greg, make sure you’ve identified, who are the guys you’ve got to get the ball too and what ways creatively can you do that. That’s what I’m trying to find out here. I’m relying a lot on the staff, some of the guys that were here a year ago, someone like Al Saunders that’s been here for a number of years, as an assistant, and look at some of the things they did before and getting input from the players as well.

Q: As much as NFL considered a passing league, how much will you hang your hat on a tough, hard-nosed run game?

Olson: Yeah, I’ve been in deep conversation with Tony Sparano, who excels in the run game, and has everywhere he’s been. With the thought in mind, when we came together, we watched a lot of tape of what they’ve done here, not just last season but the previous system, and we feel good about the system we’ve put together based upon the players we have right now. A lot of what you’re doing with your passing and your throwing will be dictated by the players that you have, and right now, where we’re at, not just at the running back position, but at quarterback and wide receiver, we’re a team that feels we’re going to need to run the football and take some pressure off that quarterback position and play to win the game that way.

Q: You’re not only putting a system together for team, but for three entirely different styles of play at quarterback. Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor and Tyler Wilson are nothing alike. Is that a challenge?

Olson: Sure. Certainly it is, but those are the players that are on this team, so we’ll try to play to their strengths and you’ll have packages, do you really want it that way? No, but you do with what you have. We’re not sitting here claiming we have Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. We never made that statement or that claim. But we’ve got guys we feel are very capable of running an NFL team and an NFL offense and they both possess different types of skills, so we’ll try to play upon those skills until someone separates themselves.

Q: Conventional wisdom is when you’re in offseason, with no contact, no one’s getting hit, and receivers know they’re not getting hit, then the ball shouldn’t touch the ground . . . you’ve been up and down _ Dennis Allen says he’s worried about the progress and not what it looks like . . .do you see that progress?

Olson: Yeah, and I think what we’ve tried to do, we’ve asked Jason Tarver, we want a lot of pressure. We want pressure. It’s a blitz practice, guys. We want to understand how to pick blitzes up, because if we just stand back and play straight Cover 2 and they bring a four-man rush, I’d like to believe our guys would be able to protect it and know how to make the calls. But when you get into those pressures, we want to put them in as many pressure situations as possible and find out who would rise to the top and who may take over a game in that situation. Those are things we’re trying to do.

Q: Have seen lots of blitzes during practice, even safeties . . .

Olson: It’s very good for us. We want it, and we’ve got to get these quarterbacks with very little experience, they’ve got to get up to speed quickly with that. We accomplished a lot. Was the execution where we wanted it to be? No, it wasn’t. But at this point, we still have time to prepare, but we feel now those guys have a much better understandings of protections, schemes and what they need to do in order to protect themelves. A lot of it was by design.

Q: I suppose if it’s like 7-on-7, summer high school flag league, it’s not of much benefit . . .

Olson: We eliminated 7-on-7, which a lot of teams do. We didn’t want that. Let’s put these guys under some pressure here. I always go back to Gruden, we’re not a team that wants to feel pressure, we want to apply pressure. We wanted to put as much pressure on our players as we could, we wanted to stimulate them, we wanted to motivate them, so when they come to work, you’re going to have to work, guys. You’re going to have to study. You can’t just come in and put in the time allotted. You’re going to have to go home and study at night, because not only are we installing a lot, because of the different variables we have at quarterback, but you’re also going to have a lot thrown at you, so not only are you going to have to learn this new system, but you’re also going to have to learn to pick up some of these exotic packages that are going throughout the league.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Thec

    PF Changs….PF changes is the soul food version.

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Give me a fruit smoothie and a large salad, but I don’t want to drink veggies or eat tofu, and I’m not going to eat my chia pet.

  • inonewordraider
  • Thec

    Exactly. What’s the point of living longer if you don’t enjoy living? Tofu, veggie smoothies, etc… Ugh…

    ++++++++++

    Aw come on man…you should be eating clean…

    BTW, i am done with all my work for the day.

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    You want a good source of protein? Eat fish.
    You want veggies? Have a salad and veggie snacks at night.
    You like Carbs (I love carbs)? Have them in the morning.

    Don’t over do it.

  • The Big Banana

    You want a good source of protein? Eat fish.

    ——

    O, preaching the good word. I’m big on fish/seafood.

  • RaiderRockstar

    @inonewordraider

    thats JaMarcus? dang, bro

    sign him Reggie!!

  • guest123

    What’s the point of living longer if you don’t enjoy living? Tofu, veggie smoothies, etc… Ugh…

    ^^^^^^^

    then you are a slave to your tastebuds. do you realize that it’s all a vicious cycle? the more fatty and sweet foods you eat, the more your tongue craves more. but the more that you eat healthy foods, and the more time you forgo eating fatty foods, you actually desire the fatty foods a lot less. eventually you get to the point that you don’t miss them. and then the smell rightly makes you nauseous. you fool your tongue to give up the old cravings.

    you gotta make a choice. do I let my toungue decide or do I have control.

    It’s all a philosophical choice in reality. centers around why you eat in the first place. gotta get away from eating for ‘emotional’ reasons and feed your body the exact fuel it needs. gotta take the emotion out of it. some people live to eat. learn to enjoy other things. save yourself from turning into a FF. life is short.

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Thec Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 11:09 am
    Exactly. What’s the point of living longer if you don’t enjoy living? Tofu, veggie smoothies, etc… Ugh…

    ++++++++++

    Aw come on man…you should be eating clean…

    BTW, i am done with all my work for the day.
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    LOL. And they pay you for the entire day? I love this country. Lol
    We eat well/ clean, but we don’t over do it. We like fruit smoothies, salads and veggie snacks, fish, minimize fried foods, we don’t eat canned/ processed foods, etc…

  • RaiderRockstar

    I told you guys I am having double bacon cheeseburgers on the grill for dinner

    well .. for lunch I just ordered from this little Italian restaurant and ate a pepperoni & sausage calzone

    delicious!!

    #dirtnapat50

  • theghostronin79

    Thec Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 10:34 am
    Wilson got everyone’s attention from day 1, then gradually came back down earth. Not stinking it up but, just doing alright.

    +++++++++++

    Whatever happened to our no 3 QB McGloin that some of the “blog greats” had penciled in as no.3?

    ==================

    LOL…… Nothing.

    I think they let him throw the ball once or twice in team drills….. Handed off a bunch.

    Gonna carry 3? Need 4 to compete…..

    I don’t think there’s any fuggin way that Pryor isn’t in the QB squad this year like some speculate.

  • http://www.christianitydisproved.com/ Silverandblack666

    As we get older we start to monitor what we eat.

    Things that us guys need to be careful of (prostate cancer) too much red meat, microwaved instant foods, and preservatives are the big ones.

    I found that just adding chicken and fish to my diet once or twice a week more than usual and walking 20 minutes a day will add years to your life.

    Pretty basic stuff but it has helped me feel healthier.

  • guest123

    guarantee u that Jamarcus Russell is eating right. all the exercise won’t show results without a good diet. he’s back on track, and doing it right. good for him. #mentor

  • RaiderRockstar

    LOL @ Thec

    honest man (regarding work)

    regarding 5’9″ WR’s ??

    #clueless

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    The Big Banana Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 11:13 am
    You want a good source of protein? Eat fish.

    ——

    O, preaching the good word. I’m big on fish/seafood.
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Shrimp, salmon, ahi/ tuna, calamari, etc…. Love it!!! Ok I’m hungry.

  • The Big Banana

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 11:15 am
    I told you guys I am having double bacon cheeseburgers on the grill for dinner

    well .. for lunch I just ordered from this little Italian restaurant and ate a pepperoni & sausage calzone

    delicious!!

    #dirtnapat50

    ——

    Lol, RRS!

  • http://www.christianitydisproved.com/ Silverandblack666

    “It’s all a philosophical choice in reality. centers around why you eat in the first place. gotta get away from eating for ‘emotional’ reasons and feed your body the exact fuel it needs. gotta take the emotion out of it. some people live to eat. learn to enjoy other things. save yourself from turning into a FF. life is short.”

    Great advice!

    A lot of people do not realize that they become addicted to sugar/sweets or fast food.

  • guest123

    I told you guys I am having double bacon cheeseburgers on the grill for dinner

    well .. for lunch I just ordered from this little Italian restaurant and ate a pepperoni & sausage calzone

    delicious!!

    #dirtnapat50

    ^^^^^^

    you’re what 30? your metabolism isn’t going to fail you for another 3 years. Then watch! You’ll see. Already starting I bet. enjoy that double cheeseburger!

    #jealous

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    I’m a slave to my taste buds, and I love it. I rather live 70 years and I enjoy life than to live 80 eating tofu and drinking veggie smoothies.

  • Thec

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 11:17 am
    LOL @ Thec

    honest man (regarding work)

    regarding 5′9″ WR’s ??

    #clueless
    ++++++++++++

    I would tell you to go to H however, I do not want to offend the atheist on the blog…lol

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Turkey bacon> Pork bacon
    Fish> other meats
    Veggies, fruits, and salads for dinner> meats, rice, bread, etc…
    That’s eating healthy IMO

  • guest123

    I’m a slave to my taste buds, and I love it. I rather live 70 years and I enjoy life than to live 80 eating tofu and drinking veggie smoothies.

    ^^^^^^

    lotta men in their 40′s live like this. look at the guys who hit their 70′s. they look like nothing like the FF’s who are in their 40′s.

    For men, if you aren’t living right, the 50′s is the death zone. Basically all men make it thru the 40′s safely, barring accidents. But there is a significant weedout in the 50′s. Guys keel over and are gone too soon. There is an epidemic in this country. Obesity is the new tobacco.

  • rediaR

    Meats>Fruits

  • romania

    Fire Cork!

  • Thec

    Ok gotta get back… ALL you guys enjoy the day, wherever you are…

    1 and only NATION.

  • RaiderRockstar

    I don’t eat fish or anything seafood-ish

    need to get my Omega-3′s

    any other good natural sources?

    I don’t want to take a pill

  • guest123

    I don’t watch much TV, but watching the NBA finals, I see the most disgusting foods they are marketing.

    Taco Bell sells a double crunch burrito with red hot fritos as the filling?

    what hell kitchen did they get that idea from? they should not be allowed to sell that stuff, or at least be bound to list the fat/calories as a warning.

    they also should be made pay the country of Mexico a penalty for loosely calling their food “Mexican” food or even inspired by it.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    Fellas, Rachel Ray in on right now.

  • guest123

    Then I see another with KFC selling boneless chicken.

    that’s perfect for this slacker generation all bottle fed and brought up on mcchicken nuggets.

    young grown adults sucking grease off their fingers wondering where the bone went. brilliant!

    get em all sippy cups!

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Later Thec.
    LOL KK.

  • The Big Banana

    It’s all about moderation (have that ice cream, just not every day), sound choices (avoid red meat, fried foods, and empty cals i.e. processed sugars) ,and avoiding modified/processed foods and pesticides.

    Though I won’t knock the super healthy route. More power to you if you can hack it.

  • guest123

    I see that they market gummy bear vitamins for adults!

    that’s precious!

    a generation of man-children.

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    RR,

    Flax seeds.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    Empty Calories = Alcohol

  • hwnrdr

    4056.The Big Banana Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 11:13 am
    You want a good source of protein? Eat fish.

    ——

    O, preaching the good word. I’m big on fish/seafood.

    I’m Hawaiian and I love me some ahi and salmon!

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    The Big Banana Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 11:32 am
    It’s all about moderation (have that ice cream, just not every day), sound choices (avoid red meat, fried foods, and empty cals i.e. processed sugars) ,and avoiding modified/processed foods and pesticides.
    $$$$$$$$$$$

    Exactly except the part about avoiding red meat. I say minimize red meat.

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Hwnrdr,

    Don’t forget Mahi mahi.

  • guest123

    don’t forget to drink plenty of water. and try to cut down on the coffee.

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    I don’t drink coffe or soda. I drink water and REAL juice.

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    I don’t drink tea. Unless it was a special herbal tea

  • guest123

    There is a drawback to eating healthy. I used to have a cast iron stomach. The other day I had a bacon cheeseburger. Felt like sh1t that night. Never again. ever. will I eat a bacon cheeseburger.

  • hwnrdr

    4087.Raider O Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 11:39 am
    Hwnrdr,

    Don’t forget Mahi mahi.

    Yup, some good mahi mahi here and there! Yummy!

  • willy91137

    I drink water and whiskey no soda no milk

  • guest123

    I drink water and whiskey no soda no milk

    ^^^

    yes! hope you dont mix the water and whiskey. I like mine on ice. with a water chaser.

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    I love milk. I drink a gallon/ week. Organic milk.

  • The Big Banana

    I need to get RRS to try an ahi tuna burger. He’ll never look back. Good stuff.

  • guest123

    milk is overrated. the little nutrition is provides you, it gives you a ton of cholesterol, fat, calories. it’s a great way to add belly fat, drinking one gallon a week. eliminate it if you can.

  • lefty12

    KK-4078-Good one.

  • willy91137

    Yes I remember when I was 35 or 40 I try to eat right I start drinking Slim fast and I didn’t need any solid food and I passed so foukI that

    then a doctor told me it isn’t what you eat it’s how much you eat so I started eating less and I start feeling better it is in your genes and if your father or mother passed a way from a heart attack 60 you better look out buy if your dad lived to be 100 and your mother lived to be 90 you will live a long time probably

    but from births to 25 or 30 you don’t think about the end

  • SaintKaufman

    I remember Gary Player being asked once about if he drank milk(the topic of healthy diet was being discussed), and he replied something like “Son, my mothers been dead for over 50 years.”

    Smart man, that one.