New hire signals help for McFadden

Published: Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4C
Last Modified: Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 - 8:22 am

ALAMEDA – The Raiders chose a coordinator to get their offense back to a power-running scheme suited to star back Darren McFadden.

Oakland hired former Jacksonville quarterbacks coach Greg Olson as its new offensive coordinator 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 this 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. Olson spent two years with the Rams (2006 and 2007), during which running back Stephen Jackson rushed for at least 1,000 yards each season, including a career high of 1,528 in 2006.

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.

His biggest task in Oakland will be getting McFadden back on track. 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.

In 2012, he averaged 3.3 yards per carry – the lowest ever for a Raiders back with at least 150 carries in a season.

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