Gruden says offense creates 'a lot of chaos'

Published: Sunday, Sep. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6C

ALAMEDA – It's disorder and confusion when the Raiders have the ball, and Greg Olson is the man responsible.

Only for a change, the turmoil is happening on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

That's how former Raiders coach and ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden described what Olson is doing with the Oakland offense in a recent phone interview.

"What Greg has done is created a lot of chaos," Gruden said.

Gruden, who hired Olson as his quarterbacks coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008, will call the Raiders' game Monday night against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field.

Olson calls Gruden one of his biggest influences as an offensive coach, citing his "presentation and preparation," as well as Gruden's belief of being a team that applies pressure rather than feeling pressure.

During his film study in preparation for the Broncos and Raiders, Gruden can see Olson tailoring an offense for quarterback Terrelle Pryor that can put pressure on a defense.

"You're going to have to deal with (Darren) McFadden; on the other side you're going to have to deal with Pryor and the option, the zone read and all the nuances that go along with that," Gruden said.

"I've seen Wildcat formations. I've see shifts to no-back sets. I've seen them bring in (Matt) McCants, a big offensive tackle, to play tight end. You're seeing a coordinator that's doing everything he can to adapt to a new quarterback."

It's a philosophy counter to the one held by previous offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, who will be on the opposite sideline as quarterbacks coach of the Broncos.

Knapp unapologetically believed in zone runs and a West Coast system with a moving pocket, with the players asked to adjust to his system. To deviate, Knapp explained last season, would be like a college professor teaching a subject other than the one he knows best.

When coach Dennis Allen decided to fire Knapp after one season, Olson came to his job interview with ideas on how to stimulate production from existing players, including ways to creatively use Pryor.

"We went into the season expecting to have a package of plays and be able to use Terrelle," Allen said. "Terrelle's improvement has given us the opportunity to use him more. That was something we discussed at the very beginning when we were going through the hiring process."

Olson's ability to adjust to a changing cast of players has been crucial. When he first took the job, the quarterback was still Carson Palmer, although even Pryor was in the picture for the occasional series or two.

When the decision was made to cut ties with Palmer in favor of Matt Flynn, it further tweaked the offensive system to add more safe throws suitable for Flynn. Eventually, Pryor's package of plays had to be expanded into something the Raiders could use for an entire game.

"Certainly there was a sense of urgency when he did take over as the starting quarterback," Olson said. "We just wanted to make sure we had enough things that he could execute and expand his strengths as a player. Really, he has grown."

Through two games, the Raiders are second in the NFL with 195.8 rushing yards per game while still developing their passing game with precious little experience at wide receiver and tight end.

"(Denver) has the best front seven we've played this season," Olson said. "It will present a tremendous challenge."

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