It's easy to say Greg Olson is similar to his Greg Knapp in first name only. Olson's words suggest Dennis Allen's goal in hiring him was to go in an entirely different direction as well.
Olson has now seen film and spoken with Allen and knows exactly why he was the guy who was hired to get this offense back on track. He said himself it was not all Greg Knapp's fault for the failings of the offense last season. But he also realizes it was Knapp's failure to adapt that did him in.
"In the old days of Bill Walsh or even Al Davis with the Raiders, you were able to collect players and keep them on your team for an extended period of time," said Olson to a group of reporters Wednesday. "Those days are somewhat over. So you've got to be able to be flexible and be able to adapt your system to the personnel that you have on that team on any given year. So, our job as a coaching staff will be to identify the skill set of the players, who are our best players, what do they do best, and how can we put them in position to be successful and do the things that they do best.
"Coming in a year ago, they made the switch to a zone system. I don't know if you ever want to pigeon hole yourself that way and say, `This is what we do.' You may not be able to do that based on the set of players that we have.
"Marcel Reece is a different kind of a fullback, so what does he do well and how can we get him involved in some of the matchups that will create problems for defenses? Darren McFadden, initially, maybe a year ago, they weren't sure about that zone scheme. Now, after a year of having to look at it, hey, maybe he is a downhill runner. So we'll get back to some of the gap scheme and the things he does well."
Hearing Olson evoke the names of Marcel Reece and Darren McFadden should be music to fans' ears. Fans who sat in agony watching both players be misused or underutilized in the offense last season.
In fact, it appears Olson has been reading the Raiders press clippings overall with the mention of the team switching back to the power blocking scheme. We all saw the offensive line play some of their best football in years in 2011 as power blockers only to see it all fall apart with the institution of the zone scheme.
The longtime NFL assistant has seen his share of offense over the years. He has had a great many influences which he hopes he can draw from in his new job in Oakland. One such influence he cites that evokes positive feelings from Raiders fans is Jon Gruden.
"I felt like, kind of a, not a rebirth, but when I got the opportunity to work with Jon Gruden, it was an eye-opening experience for me. I really took to that and took to him and still remain very close. I think he probably influenced me more than anyone in my years in the NFL."
Olson realizes the last time the Raiders had success was in Gruden's offense. And just bringing up his name will have the fans imagining the possibilities.
He has learned much in his short time in Oakland. He doesn't have tough act to follow and it appears he's taken good notes.