Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson is expecting big things from running back Maurice Jones-Drew

Had a sit-down with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson Saturday afternoon along with two other reporters. Olson touched on a wide range of subjects, but one of the things that stood out was his excitement over the performance of running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who could be a feature component of the Raiders offense in 2014.

Olson spent the 2012 season as the quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jones-Drew played in only six games before injuring his foot against the Raiders in Oakland and was done for the season. Jones-Drew averaged only 3.4 yards per carry in 2013, looking nothing like the back who had a career-best 1,606 yards in 2011.

When asked about the shelf life of a running back and the amount of carries Jones-Drew has had at age 29, Olson said he didn’t know if the wear and tear was a factor.

“But I know this. When I was with the kid two years ago, and I’ve told him so I’m not saying anything I haven’t said to him, he held out through training camp. I didn’t even meet the kid. I didn’t meet him until the week before the first game,” Olson said. “His body (now is completely different. He was running the ball well that year, he got hurt after six games, but he was heavy and a little lethargic looking. He looks like a different player.”

When it was suggested the Raiders didn’t have a true big back other than second-year player Latavius Murray, Olson referenced Jones-Drew.

“Maurice Jones-Drew plays like a big back. I’m going to promise you, you’re going to see,” Olson said. “He’s got such a low center of gravity. He’s extremely difficult to tackle because of his height and his power. He’s got ridiculous power in those legs. And he’s hard to see with a big line. He’s hard to see coming out of the line of scrimmage, and when he does come out, they get a glimpse of him and try and stick an arm out, he’ll rip it off. He’s got that kind of power.”

Highlights of other topics addressed by Olson:

Staying in good health

“The thing that’s biggest for us and probably any team is you’ve gotten this far and you’ve avoided significant injuries. Guys are playing together. You’ve got a one huddle, a two huddle and a three huddle. Guys are starting to play with each other.”

Keeping Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden healthy

“Obviously there’s a lot of critics out there that say they can’t stay healthy and who knows? In the future we’ll know, but right now if those two guys can stay healthy they’re pretty darn good.”

The quarterback room

“There’s no regulator with that group. We’ve added the entire play book, thrown everything at ’em and they haven’t blinked. not only have they absorbed the information but they’ve done a pretty good job executing it . . . there’s just a lot of good ideas bounced around and a lot of good conversations . . . I hate to compare because I’ve had some good groups, but overall, it’s probably the most intelligent group i’e ever had.”

The improvement of tight end Mychal Rivera

“He looks more athletic. He’s stronger. He’s more confident. I said to him the other day there’s a little bit of a swagger to him this season.”

The challenge of distributing the ball to different playmakers

“Trying to soothe and manage egos, I think that’s the biggest thing in the NFL. Does everybody understand the team concept of the game? We’ve got a great group of guys, a great group of skill players that I think understand it. you’ve got Marcel Reece, who does a lot of good things, you’ve got Darren (McFadden) and Maurice Jones-Drew that are going to need their touches. You’re bringing in guys at wide receiver, Rod Streater and Greg Little and Andre Holmes. We’ve added to our playmakers, we’ve beefed up our front and we’ve got stability at the quarterback position and so it should lead to better results.”

The possibility of Greg Little being a downfield threat

“He had the hamstring and has been out lately, but as far as explosiveness, getting off the line of scrimmage and straight-out speed, it’s among the tops on our team.”

The development of running back Latavius Murray

“He had foot issues (last season) and we were like, this looks like a totally different guy than the one we watched on tape in college. It looked as if he was running on bunions or something. He had real noticeable foot issues. And we haven’t had any remnants of that right now. he looks healthy, he looks strong. He’s having a real good camp.”

Use of a slot receiver

“We’re playing Rod (Streater) in the slot right now and we just moved James Jones to the slot about four practices ago, put him the slot. We like some of the things he does. Rod and James are kind of handling it inside.”

Play of the offensive line and if the Raiders will be a running team

“We think the offensive line is a strength right now. If our running backs can stay healthy, we like our running backs. I think sometimes our game plan will dictate (how much we run). How the game unfolds, sometimes dictates that, but we feel good about our running game right now.”

On Khalif Barnes holding his spot at left guard over rookie Gabe Jackson

“`Khalif’s done a good job. He’s got a fountain of youth going. Khalif Barnes, as many years as he’s played, you don’t see, usually their legs are the first to go, yet he looks fresh out there and he’s doing a nice job, and he’s also doing a nice job mentoring the young kid. Glad we got him.”


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • FourMoreYears


  • Guest123

    damn you!

  • WILLY91137

    they look good folks is number three

  • JV.

    @VicTafur: Olson on Jones-Drew: “Ridiculous power in legs, & he’s hard to see behind big OL. You stick an arm out there to get him & he’ll rip it off”

  • JV.

    Kool aid!

  • seymour bush

    Let’s see what happens when live bullets start flying next week.

  • WILLY91137

    Did you see that post by raiderO I can’t wait for the season to be over what the flock is that I have waited since last year and this guy wants it to be over brain freeze

  • Raider O

    Heard the same BS when we hired Knapp. Heard it again last year, and now the same thing.
    Here are some facts that you homers can’t argue with:
    1- DA hired Knapp
    2- 1-8 last 9 games of the season
    3- 8-24
    4- set NFL and franchise records for worst defense with a defensive minded HC.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    Do what I do with O: just ignore him. He’s coming in here trying to start fights with everyone. Not worth the aggravation, and there’s no reason to humor his mental illness or whatever it is he has.

  • Guest123
  • disqus_yeZNegncsV

    “He’s got such a low center of gravity. He’s extremely difficult to tackle because of his height and his power. He’s got ridiculous power in those legs. And he’s hard to see with a big line. He’s hard to see coming out of the line of scrimmage, and when he does come out, they get a glimpse of him and try and stick an arm out, he’ll rip it off. He’s got that kind of power.”
    I love MJD’s style of running, his body type. Hope he really does have gas left in him.
    I don’t like the upright style of DMac and Latavius Murray. Big targets with that upright style.
    (I was always amazed at how Marcus Allen was able to slither at just the right time to avoid huge hits. He had to have had eyes on the sides and back of his head because he’d go through the line with a pretty upright posture but manage to duck and weave at the right times.)

  • Raider O

    Wow, I have a stalker now. Guy can’t stop posting about me. Pathetic.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    Exactly. We have NO idea how any of this will translate until we see our guys against another team.

  • JV.

    As excited as anyone after this long wait.

  • disqus_yeZNegncsV

    “He had real noticeable foot issues.”

    Would like to know what the “foot issues” were with Murray and when they occurred.

  • J Hill

    What is this responding to?

  • seymour bush

    I watched him live last year at the beginning of camp and he didn’t look like he could plant or explode. Could be turf toe, ankle, but he didn’t look right.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    That would fit with Olson’s “bunions” comment. Not that Murray necessarily had them, but being tentative would fit into some debilitating foot injury.

  • JV.

    Could be what caused his injury he had like an ankle or knee I forget.

  • Raider O

    Just posting facts about our HC and staff.
    So sick of this staff. AL would have never tolerated this BS.

  • seymour bush

    Can’t say I am expecting immediate results. We have a brand new Q, brand new receivers, brand new offensive line, and basically, again, a brand new defense. It is going to take a bit for these players to mesh. Of course, knuckleheads here will want immediate results and when there are growing pains, they will want everyone gone.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    I think nine wins is realistic. Anything less than seven, and DA needs to go.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Marcus was awesome. Deceptive speed and just glided.
    The occasional poster in here that diss himgo into a ‘special’ box in my mind.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    I read that yesterday. Pretty cool. He saved it for when he had an actual team.

  • Second!

  • disqus_yeZNegncsV

    I could be wrong about this but I always felt that Marcus did what “instinct” tells a lot of great runners/athletes to do when they’re about to get laid out–first, try to position your body to take only a glancing blow (that’s where his vision was so crucial) and second, go limp, relax the muscles, keeping the ligaments and tendons elastic. It’s something I think natural athletes learn as soon as they begin to play, as toddlers indulging in rough and tumble play.

  • seymour bush

    Exactly. McFadden looked worlds better, and we all know how I feel about McFadden. Every year McFadden looks like OJ Simpson in camp, and then the first time someone lays a lick on him in a game, he wobbles to the sideline and thinks, “wow, it’s much safer here on the bench collecting my money”.

  • disqus_yeZNegncsV

    Yeah, now let’s hope that his actual coaching decisions during a game give the players confidence in themselves and in him.

  • Guest123

    @LRiddickESPN: Don’t know if it is good, bad, or indifferent, but very little talk about #Vikings 1st rounder Anthony Barr makes me all the more intrigued.

  • seymour bush

    Voices in his head.

  • JV.

    Was great in college but people had their doubts about him.

  • I picked him for DROY and I believe he will emerge as the best pass rusher in this draft.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    He was a one-dimensional speed demon in college. Sometimes that translates to the NFL (John Abraham) and sometimes it doesn’t (Vernon Gholston).

  • And…..all is well in A’s land.
    The hyperventilating from A’s fans after one game was pretty funny this morning.

  • seymour bush

    I don’t really get into the prediction game but I think the season hinges on two factors: 1) we must play well Week One in Metlife against the Jets. That to me is almost a must win game. We have to play well early in preseason and early in the regular season. 2nd) We have to play well in the division. KC is taking a step back, Dungver very well could take a step back. We need to take a step forward. If those two things happen, the wins will take care of themselves.

  • Raider O

    Good luck with that. Maybe this year we will not allow J Charles to burn us with the same play 4 times.

  • Gholston was just a combine freak. Barr was arguably the most productive pass rusher in college the last two years.

  • Guest123

    Lemme guess who you picked for OROY?

    Not hating your pick Barr, but I had lots of doubt before the draft. Disappeared in key conference games against Cal and Stanford

  • Johnny is closing in on that #1 spot in Cleveland.

  • seymour bush

    You can’t blame them. We got some NL pitchers, and they looked like well, NL pitchers who came to a superior league and were over matched.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    I’m still glad we got Mack instead.

  • I don’t even know what he did against Cal, but that is far from a key game.
    They are like 3-20 the last two years.

  • Hammel was a career AL pitcher, but yes Samardazjia is a #2 not a #1.
    But Lester is legit. He is just throwing two pitches, pitching to contact, gliding today. Not even downshifting it into 5th gear yet.

  • Guest123

    ha! Chris Wesseling better load up some mustard for those softball pants he’s going to eat!

  • seymour bush

    You guys hear that it looks like the Whiners lost Glenn Dorsey for the season? That has got to hurt them.

  • DJ Johnny

    Ran like a work of art.
    He had so many, but that long run in the Super Bowl was one of the prettiest runs ever.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    My Dodgers were killed last night, and Gonzalez, Puig and relief pitcher Paul Maholm all had to leave the game due to injury. Maholm’s out for the year.

  • Maholm stinks anyways, and I don’t think Puig is much of anything.
    Gonzo could miss a few days.

  • OMG!!!! We don’t have Cespedes!!! We got shutout!!!
    A’s fans have been out of the WS contention for too long and forgot how it all works I guess.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    Puig looked like a bad tooth, of all things.