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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

  • R8ER MIKE

    ok you guys lost me. seeds.berries,tofu…..
    flunk that sh!t.. give me dead cow, cold beer
    and a big ole bag of buds !! you guys might want to
    slide comfortably into a grave at a ripe old age.
    i want to slide in head first with my azz on fire !!!

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Guest,

    It’s the base for my fruit smoothies.
    Milk
    Bananas
    Strawberries
    Raspberries
    Blueberries
    Apples

  • SaintKaufman
  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Or
    Milk
    Bananas
    Dates
    Nuts

  • willy91137

    est123 Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 11:52 am
    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.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    HELL NO ON ICE IN MY GLASS THE RAIDERS SENT ME 1N 68 for bying My season tickets

  • hwnrdr

    4101.R8ER MIKE Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 12:03 pm
    ok you guys lost me. seeds.berries,tofu…..
    flunk that sh!t.. give me dead cow, cold beer
    and a big ole bag of buds !! you guys might want to
    slide comfortably into a grave at a ripe old age.
    i want to slide in head first with my azz on fire !!!

    LMFAO!!!

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    LOL ODB.
    Long Live The ODB.

  • willy91137

    i will live like hell till the day I die that I will slow down

  • guest123

    It’s the base for my fruit smoothies.
    Milk
    Bananas
    Strawberries
    Raspberries
    Blueberries
    Apples

    ^^^^^^^^

    I use fruits in my smoothies too. But I don’t use milk as the base. I use whey protein and prefer the vanilla flavor because it doesn’t rob from the natural fruit flavor. It blends up thick, not as thick as milk, but close enough. I throw in a scoop of ‘greens first’ a concentrated organic blend powder. Once a day. No milk in my diet.

  • R8ER MIKE

    willy91137 Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 12:14 pm
    i will live like hell till the day I die that I will slow down

    *******************************
    i live every day like its my last….. you never know it just might be !!
    lol lol.. i could get hit by a Prius on my way from the gym to the health food store to but food you serve to a bird !!!!

  • guest123

    Willy,

    like you said, if your daddy or momma lived to 90, you probably can live like hell and get away with it.

    my pops died at 58 of a heart attack. course he was a chain smoker and a daily beer guzzler. I hope I can outlive him. I consider it fair warning.

  • willy91137

    91137 Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 12:10 pm
    est123 Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 11:52 am
    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.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    HELL NO ON ICE IN MY GLASS THE RAIDERS SENT ME 1N 68 for bying My season tickets Season tickets than 144.00 and you get six cocktail glasses

  • R8ER MIKE

    *buy

  • guest123

    I can appreciate living each day like its my last. there’s a lot of wisdom in that. It’s having a very young baby girl that’s changed my outlook on life. I dearly want to be around to see her grow up.

  • The Big Banana

    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

    ——

    Slim fast = bad news

  • RaiderRockstar

    Oranges
    Apple Pie
    Kfc
    Lasagna
    Asparagus (buttered, seasoned & grilled)
    New York Strip steak
    Deviled eggs

    sound good?

  • RaiderRockstar

    Slim fast = bad news

    ***

    it works, though

    I tried it before and lost 20 lbs in 2 months

    dropped from 200 lbs to 180 lbs

    exercised, lots of water. ate whatever I wanted for dinner

  • guest123

    slim fast is bad news. it’s loaded with sugar. might as well have a snickers bar. I put some in my work frige and put a ‘free’ sticky note on it. them bottles are still there after 3 months.

  • guest123

    slim fast wasn’t what caused you to lose weight. it was the exercise and water. you just tricked yourself in believing it was the slim fast. good job on the weight loss though!

  • R8ER MIKE

    i hear ya Guest, but any one of us could go at any time for any nuber of reasons.

  • SaintKaufman

    Uh, are you guys gonna start crying and having hot flashes??

    I’m with Willy on this one.

  • Just Fire Baby

    You guys are giving me a hankering for some Sweet Tomatoes!!!

  • willy91137

    est123 Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 12:19 pm
    Willy,

    like you said, if your daddy or momma lived to 90, you probably can live like hell and get away with it.

    my pops died at 58 of a heart attack. course he was a chain smoker and a daily beer guzzler. I hope I can outlive him. I consider it fair warning.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    A moderation is the secret to life just don’t overdo it I always said the only thing my father taught me was how not to live my life
    my father was a moonshiner him and his brother made whiskey
    his brother got shot never did find out what that was about
    and I was named after him nobody shot me yet

  • guest123

    i hear ya Guest, but any one of us could go at any time for any nuber of reasons.

    ^^^^
    yup MIKE, it’s the stuff I can’t control I worry about the most. I used to not be that way.

  • Just Fire Baby

    I see that they market gummy bear vitamins for adults!

    ****************************

    Bring back the gummy bear lady!!!

    (If you don’t know who the gummy bear lady is, you are not a Semi-Pro icon).

  • guest123

    Just Fire Baby Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 12:27 pm
    You guys are giving me a hankering for some Sweet Tomatoes!!!

    ^^^^^^^^

    there’s a 20% off entire order coupon up in the banner, at least on mine. good stuff.

  • http://profootballtalk.com Raideraholic (AKAHairyBush)

    I’m going into withdrawal.

    Steve, can we get a new post?!?!??!

  • http://profootballtalk.com Raideraholic (AKAHairyBush)

    I remember the gummy bear lady lol!!!!!

  • RaiderRockstar

    gummy bear lady ??

  • hwnrdr

    4114.guest123 Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 12:21 pm
    I can appreciate living each day like its my last. there’s a lot of wisdom in that. It’s having a very young baby girl that’s changed my outlook on life. I dearly want to be around to see her grow up.

    Amen bro!

  • SnBG

    You have to worry about all of the chems in food and the environment more now than previous generations

  • guest123

    You have to worry about all of the chems in food and the environment more now than previous generations

    ^^^

    this is true. because back in the day, companies hadn’t yet figured out how to make food that could survive nuclear holocausts. the only way to be safe is to eat simple foods as much as possible.

  • RaiderRockstar

    slim fast wasn’t what caused you to lose weight. it was the exercise and water. you just tricked yourself in believing it was the slim fast. good job on the weight loss though!

    ***

    @G123

    it was the slim fast.

    of course, I probably could have just eaten a peice of fruit for breakfast & lunch and gotten the same result

  • SnBG

    If you have longevity in your family, you have a higher chance of longevity yourself, because it is highly inheritable. But you don’t know if you inherited it. Unless you know you’re genetic makeup it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    It’s amazing what you get out of Raider Fans. Watching The Barefoot Contessa right now.

  • SnBG

    Some people that live long lives the protein CETP gene that helps control HDL, or good cholesterol, and seems to protect people against certain health problems that occur with age, including cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. Research is ongoing to develop drugs that would mimic such gene mutations, as a prevention effort against the diseases of aging.

  • theghostronin79

    guest123 Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 12:21 pm
    I can appreciate living each day like its my last. there’s a lot of wisdom in that. It’s having a very young baby girl that’s changed my outlook on life. I dearly want to be around to see her grow up.

    ===========

    I feel ya…… My baby girl just turned 4…. She’s my first and only so far….

    Completely changed the way I think and act. I was a Piss-N-Vinegar Marine / Firefighter

    Now I’m a cream puff. I recently resigned from the FD after a House fire that I thought “For Sure” my ticket was up…… I’ve never been afraid of dying but, this time……..

    I said FU*K THAT…..I wanna walk my baby down the aisle one day.

  • http://profootballtalk.com Raideraholic (AKAHairyBush)

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    June 21st, 2013 at 12:37 pm
    gummy bear lady ??
    ———————
    You don’t remember the ad on this site a few years ago?

  • RaiderRockstar

    Do you guys all have wives that enjoy cooking for healthnuts?

    or perhaps they’re the ones who inspired/persuaded you?

    I married a country gal. If I told her no thanks on the bacon sausage eggs biscuits & coffee on Saturday mornings she’d probably hit me with a frying pan.

    of course she’s super thin and can eat whatever she wants without gaining a pound – that type, the ones you hate (lol)

  • guest123

    I used to have a job where I was on the road a lot. It was a daily question, “which drive thru should I hit today?” It was every day. “biggie size me? you betcha!” companies paying for it.

    Quitting that job saved my life, though I could never have guessed why at the time.

  • guest123

    4136, SnBG interesting…

  • RaiderRockstar

    You don’t remember the ad on this site a few years ago?

    ***

    @HB

    no, I never pay attention to them

    I even googled “gummy bear lady” and it brought up Lady GAGA

    heh

  • SnBG

    it was the slim fast.

    of course, I probably could have just eaten a peice of fruit for breakfast & lunch and gotten the same result
    ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
    Yes it was the slim fast but you can do the same by not eating fat converting whites, less calories, less salt, less fat and exercising for a lot less money. Also don’t let yourself become really hungry, eat some snacks between you’re meals and don’t overeat. All these diet weight loss companies are ripping you off trading on the public’s belief that loosing weight can be easy.

  • guest123

    I recently resigned from the FD after a House fire that I thought “For Sure” my ticket was up…… I’ve never been afraid of dying but, this time……..

    I said FU*K THAT…..I wanna walk my baby down the aisle one day.

    ^^^^^^^

    that’s a brave decision. anyone tells you otherwise is just a swinging d!ck who doesn’t have a kid. Kids change you. I wanna walk my baby girl down the aisle too. I have 3 girls I wanna walk so I better keep up!

  • Dakota

    Congrats Rockstar on the Heat victory…..begrudgingly.

    F the SPURS!

  • http://profootballtalk.com Raideraholic (AKAHairyBush)

    @HB

    no, I never pay attention to them
    ———————
    Don’t worry you aren’t missing anything.

    I figured you would have noticed since you have been on this site as long as I can remember. You were one of the 1st few people I talked to many years ago.

  • RaiderRockstar

    you guys are convincing me that eating healthy not only tastes bad and is expensive, but gets way too complicated

    you employed by Burger King, perhaps?

  • guest123

    @ Rock,

    my wife does weekend breakfasts right. like you said, bacon, eggs, cheese, sausage, toast, pancakes, fruit, all you can eat and 2nd helpings.

    It’s the other 5 days we drink veggie shakes for breakfast.

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

    I loved the Tyler Wilson clip thanks!

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

    Dakota are you ready to defend your title?