Raiders hire Olson to run offense
The Oakland Raiders chose a coordinator to get their offense back to a power-running scheme suited to star back Darren McFadden.
The Raiders hired former Jacksonville quarterbacks coach Greg Olson as their new offensive coordinator on Saturday to revive a unit that had its worst production on the ground since 2005.
Coach Dennis Allen interviewed a number of candidates, including Norv Turner and Marc Trestman, before settling on Olson to replace the fired Greg Knapp. The shift in philosophies from last season's offense is a clear acknowledgment that McFadden was not suited to a zone running scheme.
Oakland also hired former Philadelphia assistant Bobby April as special teams coordinator. Allen still needs to fill openings for an offensive line coach and linebackers coach.
Olson previously served as offensive coordinator with Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. In Olson's two years with the Rams, running back Stephen Jackson rushed for at least 1,000 yards in 2006 and `07, including a career high of 1,528 his first season.
Olson also helped LeGarrette Blount get a 1,000-yard season in Tampa Bay and played a key role in the development of Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman. Freeman threw 25 touchdown passes and six interceptions and posted a career-best 95.9 rating in 2010 with Olson calling plays.
Olson has 26 years of coaching experience, including 15 in college and 11 in the NFL. Along with Freeman, he has also worked with quarterbacks such as Marc Bulger (St. Louis), Jeff Garcia (San Francisco) and Drew Brees (Purdue).
But his biggest task in Oakland will be reviving the career of McFadden. A first-round pick in 2008, McFadden struggled early in his career with injuries and the zone scheme.
That all changed when Hue Jackson was hired as offensive coordinator in 2010 and implemented a power system better suited to McFadden's skills. In two seasons with Jackson calling plays, McFadden averaged 5.3 yards per carry and broke one of every 15 runs for at least 20 yards.
Last season, he averaged 3.3 yards per carry — the lowest ever for a Raiders back with at least 150 carries in a season — and the Raiders stumbled to a 4-12 record. He also had only four runs of at least 20 yards in 216 carries.
''I'm not an offensive guru, but I do know when Darren is running certain plays, it's pretty doggone good, and he had some last year,'' general manager Reggie McKenzie said Thursday. ''But when you talk about a scheme, he's not a lateral mover. He's not one of those guys. As soon as he can go north and south, that's when he's at his best.''
April has spent 21 seasons as a special teams assistant in the NFL, including a very successful six-year run in Buffalo. April spent the past three seasons with the Eagles and has also worked with St. Louis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Atlanta.