Olson comes over from the staff of the 2-14 Jaguars where he was the quarterbacks coach. When his name first popped up as having interviewed with the team, it seemed odd. The Jaguars were terrible and their quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, was part of that problem. So, what would make Olson a hot commodity?
Before his time with the Jaguars, he had been the offensive coordinator for three seasons in Tampa, two seasons in St Louis, and one season in Detroit. Only once during that time did he command an offense that wasn't among the worst in the NFL. So, again, where is the interest?
The word I received in the situation was the Raiders didn't choose Olson based on his resume. That much would seem obvious. But for answers, one would have to track Dennis Allen down in Mobile Alabama where he and his staff are preparing the North squad for the Senior Bowl.
Paul Gutierrez of CSN Bay Area was on hand to get some answers. This is some of what Allen had to say about his OC choice:
"When you really look at it, and you talk to people around the National Football League, he's highly respected with everybody that I talked to," Allen said. "When you go through this process of hiring guys, you talk to a lot of people and you get some good (opinions) and you get some bad (opinions) and he was one of those guys that it was very, very hard to find anything negative about him.
"I like his demeanor, I like his philosophy I like the way he wants a tough, physical and yet explosive-type offense. And I liked the fact that the fact that he talked about, we've got to fit the scheme to the personnel, to the guys that we have and try to do the things that they do really well. And really limit the times that we ask them to do things that maybe they aren't as good at."
The one connection to the Raiders and Olson is he coached under Gruden in 2008. The Raiders and Jon Gruden rekindled their relationship this season. Following the hire, I had hypothesized that the Raiders had spoken with Gruden about Olson and Allen's statements about reaching out to his former colleagues strengthens that notion.
These statements also go right along with the idea that Olson was hired for his ability to change his game plan based on personnel. It is something Allen learned from his first year as a head coach. He brought in Greg Knapp and the attempt to force the zone blocking scheme and a by-the-book West Coast offense on this team was a disaster.
By firing Knapp and hiring Olson, Allen was admitting he made a mistake and is willing to do what it takes to correct it. That makes this a good decision regardless of how you feel about Allen or Olson's abilities as coaches. It is an attempt to evolve and improve as a coach and as a team.