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Greg Olson Thursday


Q: Their defense has lost some pretty good guys, but are they still doing a good job on defense?**

Coach Olson: Obviously they're a very good defensive team. They present a tremendous challenge.

Q: What do you make of their run defense on tape?

Coach Olson: They're a solid defensive front. They've got a solid group of linebackers. At this point, they're probably the best front-seven that we've played. Again, it'll be a challenge.

Q: With the type of runners that you have, how do you feel you match up with their run defense?

Coach Olson: We're a work in progress somewhat. We're excited about Darren McFadden and Terrelle Pryor and Marcel Reece, and Rashad Jennings has done some good things. We're comfortable right now with the players we have in the position to run the football.

Q: When you interviewed with Dennis Allen for the job, you talked about all sorts of scenarios. Coach Allen said you both talked about Terrelle in the interview, is that something you knew coming in you wanted to bounce ideas off?

Coach Olson: When I did interview, Carson Palmer was the quarterback here, but Terrelle Pryor was certainly part of the conversation in getting him more involved offensively and having a package of plays. That made sense, at the time. We came up with an initial package and certainly, that package has evolved and it will continue to evolve based on the things that he can do.

Q: How much did you accelerate that package, given that he was named the starter?

Coach Olson: We try to add to it, but certainly there is a sense of urgency when he did take over as the starting quarterback. We just wanted to make sure we had enough things that we felt one, that he could execute, and two, that would expand on his strengths as a player. Really, he has grown. Here's a guy that didn't take a lot of reps with the first-team offense up until the week before the last preseason game, so as he becomes more comfortable, we become more a little bit more comfortable with the package.

Q: Did Coach Allen come to you and discuss Terrelle being the starter? How much involvement did you have in that decision?

Coach Olson: It was a collective decision within the organization, based on some of the things that he had shown in the preseason and based on the competition between him and Matt [Flynn]. He did some good things there, and he was rewarded for that. That's kind of the culture that [General Manager] Reggie [McKenzie] and Dennis are trying to embrace around here, that there will be competition; competition amongst the entire team. If you can create competition at every position, then we certainly hope we'll get the best out of our players.

Q: How is Terrelle's passing game coming along?

Coach Olson: It's still a work in progress. We'll continue to work and do the things that Terrelle can do.

Q: When talking with Reggie yesterday, even he seemed surprised that Marcel Reece hasn't gotten the ball much. How do you get him more involved in the offense?

Coach Olson: You can hand him the ball. Obviously his first carry last week was a touchdown, so maybe I need to hand him the ball more. The one way you can ensure that a guy gets touches is to hand him the football. We'll look at that. He's also obviously a threat out in space, as a matchup issue. We look at those things and we make sure he's involved in the progression.

Q: Would you like to see more consistency from Darren McFadden with the four- and five-yarders?

Coach Olson: He ran the ball very, very hard. Other than the fumble in the four-minute, I was pleased with the way Darren McFadden ran the football last week and what he brought to us last week.

Q: Can you see his confidence growing?

Coach Olson: We're still early. We're only two games into this thing. But like I've said, I've always been impressed with Darren McFadden's attitude and his work ethic. To me, the conversations I've had with Darren McFadden have been very positive since the day I got here.

Q: Tight end was a big question mark in camp. How have Jeron Mastrud and Mychal Rivera come along?

Coach Olson: With [David] Ausberry out, we put a lot on Mychal Rivera as a rookie. Even though Mastrud is a veteran, he hasn't played a lot, but he's the veteran in that group and he's the mature guy in that group. I think he's done a good job in that room bringing those younger tight ends along with him. Again, Mychal Rivera is a guy that will get better with experience. He's playing a lot more now than we envisioned when we drafted him. Certainly we wouldn't have drafted him if we didn't think he could contribute, but he's taking a lot more right now than we envisioned. We think that he'll get better from week to week, and that's the plan.

Q: In the hostile environment on Monday, how important is to not get in third-and-long situations?

Coach Olson: I think that's critical. Every week we talk about that – managing third downs. The best way to increase third-down productivity is to shorten the field on those situations. First and second downs will be every bit as important, in terms of our third-down efficiency. It's a good football team and it's going to be a real challenge in a hostile environment for us. The players are excited about it, so we'll get a chance to see what kind of team we have against a really, really good defensive football team.

Q: It's only been a couple of games but what do you feel like you need to improve about your red zone offense?

Coach Olson:We need to score more touchdowns, obviously that would be it. We have to get better. If you look at last week's statistics, I think you can look at statistics anyway you want, we were one-of-five last week. Two of those red zone possessions were third down and we got into the end zone. Fourth down, you have to make a decision, do you kick a field goal or do you punt? When we're actually in the red zone on third-down possessions, we were one of three, but we need to score more touchdowns. That's our job as an offense to score more touchdowns, and I think it will be imperative that we score more touchdowns this week against a high scoring offense like Denver. We have to get better at our execution more than anything, so we'll try to clean that up.

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