Q: Last week you talked about how Derek Carr responded in the second half of the Seattle game and how that was a big learning opportunity. Maybe he didn't have the same response in the second half of the Broncos game, but what can he learn from that? **
Coach Olson:"I don't know if he didn't have the same response, he just didn't have the same success that he had in the second half. That doesn't, obviously, fall all on Derek Carr. I will say this: There was no point in that game where he wanted to be taken out. To me, when you have a young quarterback like that that has struggled a little bit, that's a very good sign. He said, 'I want to get this and I want to score a touchdown with here with this group, coach. I don't want to be the guy that is taken out. I don't want guys to feel like I am letting them down or I am not going to be out there with them. That was encouraging. Plus, he was seeing some things that, to me, it wasn't as if throughout the course of the game, he felt like, 'Oh, I don't know where guys are coming from and I don't know what I am doing.' Again, he remained calm and said, 'Let me do this, coach.' So, we allowed him to do that. I was glad to see him respond and glad to see him get the last score."
Q: So you did talk to him about maybe sitting down?
Coach Olson: "The possibility, yeah. That was discussed. It was discussed, first, internally, but then discussed it with him a little bit, just briefly. He said, 'I want to play.' We didn't feel like we were leaving him in harm's way, so we felt the experience would be real good for him."
Q: What does that say about his character?
Coach Olson: "I just think he's competitive. You're always looking for a competitive guy. I think that's one of the major traits that you look for in a quarterback. They have to be competitive. They have to hate to lose. And they've got to hate the thought of being taken out of a game."
Q: When you look at the problems you guys are having running the ball, are they the same breakdowns all the time? Are they different? Are teams outplaying you up front? Where do you see them?
Coach Olson: "It's been different at times. Again, if it was one thing, I think it would be easily solved, but it's something each week that crops up. We kind of simplified during the bye week, and we've simplified more this week. Until we get it right, until we're able to execute on a regular basis, and we just haven't clicked or found that yet this season. Some of the opponents have something to do with that. But, more so when you look at it, I think it's more been us. I think the players would agree with that as well. We'll continue to search for ways to run the football and continue to call more runs in situations and get that ground game going."
Q: I know the number of rushing attempts has been dictated by the scores. Have you ever gotten to the point where you just decided to run it until it gets going?
Coach Olson: "I haven't done that and part of that is also based on Derek Carr. I think there is going to be a time, and I don't know when in Derek Carr's career, where people are going to expect this guy to throw it 30-plus times a game. I think he's got that kind of arm talent, and I think as he continues to grow and to mature in this league and with experience, I think he'll be one of those quarterbacks. And surround him with some players, those are the things that you're going to want to do with this guy. We're doing some things. Obviously, we're nowhere near where we need to be. We've certainly fallen off, to me and I think all of us, and again there is still plenty of season left, but nobody thought we'd be here offensively within the staff, especially based upon the last seven games last year when Matt [McGloin] had come in and taken over. We felt like we've got a chance now with a good, young rookie quarterback. But, it hasn't gone that way and we'll continue to find answers down the stretch here the second half of the season."
Q: How can you guys get better throwing the ball downfield?
Coach Olson: "Obviously, some of it is trying to design ways to get guys open down the field. We'll at it that way. Schematically, how do we help our receivers create separation, get separation down the field? And also, how do we convince Derek, at times, again the trust factor of knowing that … A lot of times in the NFL, when they are not open, they are open, if you have that trust factor of that wide receiver that will go up and make that ball in a tightly-contested environment. That is man coverage in the NFL. We're seeing a lot of man coverage, so there is not a lot of separation. When there is not a lot of separation, there has to be a huge trust factor there between the quarterback and his receiving corps."
Q: You guys have been able to score last in games. Is there anything you can take from that?
Coach Olson: "We scored, obviously last week, but we were also in a two-minute mode most of the fourth quarter. So, there were three or four series where we didn't score and were unable to put together and convert on the third downs. Another disappointment has been the third-down conversions. I think that was a point of emphasis for us during the bye week, and we came out in that first game against San Diego and we were better. We felt like, 'Alright, we're getting separation, we're pushing the ball the down the field.' It was a major step forward. We haven't done that, especially the last two weeks. But again, some of that has been who we have had to play. We've had some premier edge rushers in both Seattle and Denver. Not to take anything away from the other teams that we've played because they have some pretty good players too, but I think some of the defenses that we've played have had something to do with that as well."
Q: Excluding the Seahawks in the preseason, this is the first time that your quarterback has played a team twice in the same season. What are you imparting upon him about how much to trust what he saw in the last game and how much to understand that they're going to throw different things at him?
Coach Olson: "Certainly, there will be adjustments. I think he understands that part of it. But, for him, it's been more so going back, looking at his notebook from the first game and taking a look at the notes. Also, at the end of each game, take notes after the game, not on personnel or things throughout the game that we learn. So, all the quarterbacks carry folders on that first opponent the first time they play him and go back through it to remind himself of different protection rules. There are always certain calls that they have to make that are relative to each opponent, so they refresh their memory on that. I think they just have a better feel on the longer you're in the league or the longer you're in the same division, the easier it gets that way. The file is not on the opponent, but it's also on the coordinator. Who is the coordinator of that team? Did they have the same coordinator that they've had for years? That helps in their preparation. But I just think throughout the course of their career, the good ones have a file on every team and every coordinator and have done a good job of taking copious notes. I think that Derek will be one of those guys."
Q: What have you seen from Derek in his progression?
Coach Olson:"One, he's an accurate thrower. He's an accurate passer. I think he's got a good feel in the pocket. He's not a guy that holds onto the ball. That can be good and bad. There are times that he could hold it and maybe create, but I think it's, for him, for a young player, a crucial part of development to getting them to understand protections and knowing blitz patterns and blitz packages. Knowing who is responsible for picking up blitzers or who is the free hitter on each protection, that's been invaluable experience for him. More than anything, just getting a chance to stand in an NFL pocket has helped him understand that part of the game. It was critical in his development. He's come along that way."
Q: What is something that has surprised you about Derek that you didn't know he could do in college?
Coach Olson:"I think he's much better in the pocket. It's a different game than in college. In college, it was a lot of the quick screens and some of those things that he'll still rely on at this level. But, I think when the pocket collapses, it's so much faster in the NFL. It's more of a true standing in the pocket, as opposed to in college, you don't have the edge rushers that you have in the NFL. There is really not a pocket for some of those guys. I think just his feel in the pocket has been impressive."
Q: He had talked yesterday about the interception that he threw when he was trying to get it to Rivera and felt himself get hit in the back and was still going to try to throw the ball. Are you OK with him taking that risk?
Coach Olson:"Once he went to Mychal and then he got the pull on the back of the jersey, you never want to be late there. Now he's late with the ball and the defender was able to turn his head back to him and see it. In those situations, I think that's another learning experience. He went to throw it on time, then all of a sudden he had to put his hand out to catch his balance, he's getting pulled. In that situation, we can punt the football. You certainly never want to turn the ball over. There are times and situations where we will say that that's a matchup we want, as long as the defender has his back turned to you. There are certain situations where we will take and make sure you give him an opportunity to catch the football, you see back of numbers and this matchup with Rivera or James Jones, if you see back of numbers, we want to make that throw. As soon as those defenders are facing you, then those are not throws that we encourage him to make."
Q: When it comes to pushing the ball downfield, you talked about trusting receivers. Does that also apply to the line?
Coach Olson:"It's totally that. That's part of just feeling the pocket. Depending on who you're playing, it changes every week, but having the trust factor in there that they're going to block their guys and give you time enough to throw the ball down the field."