The Raiders finally have their new offensive coordinator. But what should be expect to see from the Raiders offense under his direction?
Last season the Raiders' offense was lost. They had an offensive coordinator who had a very specialized set of skills. He was a strict zone blocking specialist who wasn't known for his play calling abilities. He was asked to take his scheme and mold this team to fit that scheme. It had disastrous results.
Now, the Raiders have a new offensive coordinator on board so it is back to the drawing board. While he must figure out what kind of players he has to work with, the players must in turn figure out what they have in a coach. This is what we can expect.
1. Zone blocking is out
The offensive line never caught onto it last season. They had a great season in the power blocking scheme in 2011 and were unable to build upon that success. At some point last season they mixed in more power blocking and it helped Darren McFadden immensely.
What we will see instead are more gap and isolation schemes which will allow McFadden to run downhill as he does best. This kind of scheme is what had the undrafted Lagarrette Blount have a breakout season and Steven Jackson have the best seasons of his career.
2. Palmer to air it out
The Raiders led the league last season in yards after the catch. It sounds great but it was primarily because they very rarely attempted long passes. Olson worked with Drew Brees while at Purdue, helped Mark Bulger throw for 4301 yards with the Rams, and Josh Freeman have the best season of his career in 2010 (25 TD's to 6 int, 95.9 passer rating). He likes his big armed pocket passers and that's what Carson Palmer is.
Out of the West Coast Offense last season, Palmer had one of his best seasons as far as passing yards are concerned. But it became clear that scoring was a serious issue. Yards don't mean much when it takes 60 passes to get them which eventually is going to result in an interception (or two) and drives often end in field goals. This offense should be more what Palmer was used to since entering the NFL.
Olson won't abandon the virtues of the WCO entirely but he also will not run it strictly. He preaches play action though he doesn't always put it into practice.
3. Utilizing best weapons
It's hard to get a bead on some of the exact tendencies of his offenses because they were wholly dependent on personnel. In the seasons he had Kellen Winslow Jr at tight end in Tampa Bay, he called plays to get him the ball. When he had lesser talent at that position, tight end wasn't as big a part of the offense. When he had Steven Jackson in St Louis, he handed him the ball more often. When he had
What this tells us is a player like Marcel Reece won't be a ghost most of the season as he was last year. Reece is a playmaker and you can expect him to get the ball in his hands as much as we had come to expect in previous seasons.
4. Not run heavy
There was only one time in Olson's six seasons as an offensive coordinator he gave the ball to any running back more than 20 times per game. That was in 2006 when the Rams offense was one of the best in the league and there were plenty of touches to go around. Each season since then, the number of touches for the number one back has gone down. In his three seasons with the Buccaneers, the top back averaged right around 15 carries per game.
Fewer carries for McFadden will mean less wear and tear and less chance of injury (although I expect he will get injured anyway). The league is getting more pass happy and he is adapting with it.
This low amount of run plays isn't unlike last season. The difference will be the pass plays won't also reach into the 50's with the constant barrage of dink and dunk short passes.