In the end, working with Jon Gruden proved to be an opportunity Greg Olson just couldn't pass up.
"If he [Gruden] ever got back into coaching, I knew that he'd be the one guy that I would want to have another opportunity to work with," said Olson via conference call Wednesday. "Even though I only worked for him the one season in Tampa, I think our personalities just meshed. We always kept in contact since that time. I just feel real fortunate now to be back with him. Then the fact that for him to be able to come back to the Raiders, certainly it's a big deal to him. It's a big deal to me. Just real excited about both him and the Raiders combined."
After spending the 2017 season as the quarterbacks coach for the Los Angeles Rams – and doing a pretty impressive job developing Jared Goff – Olson has returned to Northern California, donning the Silver and Black once again after serving as offensive coordinator for the team from 2013-14.
And as much as Gruden's presence at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway played a role in Olson's decision to become a Raider once again, it never hurts to have a franchise quarterback on the roster either.
"I was just so impressed with Derek [Carr's] football acumen – intelligence, to me, was kind of off the charts," Olson explained. "The guys I've been around, I thought he was real talented that way, the mental part of the game. And then physically, his accuracy and his quickness of his release and just a lot of the physical tools there that were special. I think that's probably what enticed Jon as well into taking this job, that there was a young quarterback in place here with a lot of upside and a lot of room for growth. I think that's the challenge that he's looking forward to, how do we get the best version of Derek Carr and how do we get the most out of Derek Carr."
Headed into his fifth professional season, Gruden will already be Carr's fourth head coach, and while there will no question be a learning curve for No. 4 as he learns the idiosyncrasies of yet another offensive system, he'll have a familiar face to help him in that education, as Olson was his very first offensive coordinator back in 2014.
Now, much has changed since Carr was a rookie quarterback; he's been a Pro Bowler two times over since then, and although he trudged through a down year in 2017, he's no doubt the team's quarterback of today and tomorrow.
However, since the NFL is the epitome of a "what have you done for me lately" league, Carr's struggles in 2017 are at the forefront of the conversation, not his MVP-caliber year in 2016.
He threw more than twice as many interceptions as he did in 2016, and his 22 touchdowns are the fewest he tossed since his rookie season.
"He still looked extremely talented again this year," Olson said of Carr. "You see the arm talent there. You see the talented player. Took a little, obviously, step backwards, but I just think there's such a big jump from that Year 1 to Year 2 and he demonstrated that. He's demonstrated growth throughout his career up until this past season. I just think you can see a more mature player. I think, obviously, his knowledge of the game, you can see that on the tape. His ability to get in and out of bad plays, get the ball out of his hand."
As mentioned above, Carr has seemingly gone through a schematic shift each offseason he's been a Raider, and when asked about all those changes No. 4 has gone through, Olson made sure to stress the importance of continuity for his young signal-caller.
"You want to build around that quarterback and I think that that's the other thing, again, I think with the hiring of a head coach like Jon Gruden, everything we do in this building is going to be about the development of Derek Carr," Olson said. "The way we script practices, the way we are doing drills, everything that we do is all about the development of the quarterback. That will really speed the development of Derek. More so than anything is that there's somebody here in place that's going to make everything that we do and that everyone in the building understand that we grow as Derek Carr grows."
Olson continued, "We drafted this guy to be that franchise quarterback. We feel like he has the potential to be that guy that can be here and play for 10 more years. It's up to us to try and get that out of him. We'll do everything in our power to make sure that that happens, from practice to offseason programs, to what we're doing defensively in practice, all those things will be designed to help Derek's growth."