May 20, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn (15) and offensive coordinator Greg Olson (right) at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson: “I’m Building the Offense Around the Players I have.”

When the Oakland Raiders hired Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp last year, Raider Nation was worried.  We had all observed the debacle that is Greg Knapp’s Offense in the past.  We were hoping that his time with the Houston Texans had given him a better feel for running a productive offense.  However, it didn’t pan out, and it made our once productive running game look like a sinking ship in the middle of the ocean.  Thankfully, Greg Knapp was released and there’s a new Sheriff in town.  Enter in newly appointed Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson.

What would his philosophy be, and how was he going to use Darren McFadden?  This was the burning question on my mind.  I feel he is answering my questions.  With the passing of Mini-Camps and the lull before Training Camp, I have learned a great deal about Greg Olson’s philosophy.  He has made it clear to Raider Nation and the football world what his intentions for this offense are.  Is it a new idea or scheme?

No, Olson is implementing an old and new idea that has had great success past and present:  “Build an offense around the players that you have.”  What is this scheme you ask?  Raider Nation can remember a time when this scheme was put to work for the Oakland Raiders.

Head Coach Jon Gruden had taken a fledgling offense of the late 90’s and had grown it into a powerhouse.  In 2000, utilizing the skill-sets of players like Rich Gannon, Tyrone Wheatley, Tim Brown, Zack Crockett, Rickey Dudley, and James Jett, he built and offense that carried our team to the AFC Championship.  In 2001, Gruden added Jerry Rice and Charlie Garner to again win the AFC West Division.  Even when Gruden was released, newly appointed Head Coach Bill Callahan inherited the team and took it to a Super Bowl.  This was all due to the building blocks that Jon Gruden had in place.

Currently, Greg Olson is breathing new life into the offensive playbook by building the skill-sets of the players that already exist.  He is not forcing players into a strict scheme and expecting them to perform.  This is the new Oakland Raiders.  This is the team that will prevail in 2013 and for years to come.  The football world can underestimate us all they want, because we live for being the underdog.

If you don’t believe what I am saying, read the words from Greg Olson in a recent interview; “So, I’ve been exposed to a number of different systems.  If there’s one think 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,” Olson said.  Upon completion of OTA’s and Mandatory Mini-Camp, Olson talked about Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson.  He said, “We’re not sitting here claiming we have Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady.  We never made that statement or claim, but we’ve got guys we feel are very capable of running an NFL team and an NFL offense.  They both possess different types of skills, so we’ll try to play to their strengths until someone separates themselves.” 

May 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen watches players stretch during rookie minicamp at the Raiders team headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach Dennis Allen is thrilled with the players that Oakland has on the team.  He believes that with the right system in place, it is a group they can build on and bring long-term success.  Quarterback Flynn loves the playbook Olson has put together so far. He believes the team is feeling more comfortable with the change and training camp will only help in that process.

Only time will tell as to the outcome of the 2013 season.  I for one am excited to see what this revamped, restructured, and gutted team is capable of.

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