Greg Olson enters his second season in his return to the Raiders, marking his 18th season in the NFL and fourth season with the Raiders, having spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons as the team’s offensive coordinator. Olson is also in his second stint on Head Coach Jon Gruden’s staff, as he served as Gruden’s quarterbacks coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008.
Bringing 32 years of coaching experience to the post, Olson is in his second stint in Oakland with 11 seasons of experience as an offensive coordinator, as he’s been with the Detroit Lions (2005), St. Louis Rams (2006-07), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-11), Raiders (2013-14, 2018) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2015-16).
Last season with the Raiders, Olson oversaw an offense that underwent many changes due to injuries, but still saw QB Derek Carr produce career highs in many statistical categories. Carr set personal bests in passing yards (4,049), completions (381), completion percentage (68.9 percent) and yards per attempt (7.3 avg.). He became just the third quarterback in franchise history to surpass the 4,000-yard barrier, while also moving into second on the club’s all-time touchdown passes list (122), trailing only Ken Stabler. His 122 scores through the air rank seventh in NFL history through a player’s first five seasons.
Carr’s completion percentage marked a new franchise record, besting Rich Gannon’s previous record of 67.6 percent set in 2002, while also ranking fifth in the NFL last season. Olson also assisted Carr in cementing himself among NFL history when his completion total in 2018 surpassed Peyton Manning for most completions (1,759) in NFL history through a player’s first five seasons. Carr joined Manning as the only other quarterback in league annals to complete 300 passes in each of their first five seasons.
Olson placed a heavy emphasis on protecting the ball and minimizing turnovers, a facet in which Carr excelled. Carr set a new franchise record for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception this past season, with his streak coming to an end at 332 attempts. His streak ranks third in NFL history, trailing only Tom Brady (350) and Aaron Rodgers (402). Carr also completed 52 passes of at least 20 yards in 2018, a mark that rests as second-best in his career and ties for third in club history. Carr and the offense’s explosive plays through the air tied for 11th in the league.
Olson’s offense produced a first-time Pro Bowler in TE Jared Cook, who set career highs in yards (896), receptions (68) and touchdowns (six), marks that all either tied for the team lead or outright led the team. With injuries at running back, Olson helped find a larger role for third-year RB Jalen Richard, who tied for the team lead in receptions (68), setting a new career high and also tying Marcus Allen for the fourth-most receptions in a single season by a Raiders running back.
In 2017, Olson served as the quarterbacks coach for the Los Angeles Rams, helping the Rams win the NFC West and overseeing the development of second-year QB Jared Goff. Under Olson, Goff enjoyed a breakout season in 2017, earning a selection to the Pro Bowl and throwing for 3,804 yards on 296-of-477 passing (62.1 percent), 28 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Additionally, Olson helped the Rams post 29.9 points per game, best in the NFL, and the franchise’s best mark in 16 years.
Prior to joining the Rams, Olson spent two seasons (2015-16) as the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the first season of his second stint with Jacksonville in 2015, Olson revamped the Jaguars offense into the NFL’s 14th-ranked scoring unit (23.5 points per game) after placing 32nd in 2014. The Jaguars also scored 127 more points in 2015 (376) than they did in 2014 (249), and their 376 points scored were the most for the franchise since 2007.
Olson’s first tenure with the Raiders came from 2013-14, also as the team’s offensive coordinator, where he was charged with tutoring first-year Carr in 2014. Olson played a key role in the development of the rookie quarterback, who threw for 3,270 yards and 21 touchdowns, a franchise rookie record and tops in the NFL among rookie quarterbacks that year. Additionally, Olson oversaw an offense that allowed only 28 sacks on the year, the sixth fewest in the NFL.
In 2013, the Raiders’ offense averaged 20.1 points and 333.8 yards per game. Despite starting a league-high eight different offensive line combinations, Olson’s group showed improvements in many significant areas from 2012, including yards per rush (3.8 in 2012 to 4.6 in 2013), 20-plus-yard runs (eight to 18), red zone touchdown percentage (42.9 to 59.5) and points on the opening possession (three to 41). He also tutored two young quarterbacks to lead the Raiders offense – QBs Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin. Pryor threw for 1,798 yards and seven touchdowns, while setting a franchise record for a quarterback with 576 rushing yards. McGloin took over as the starter midway through the campaign and finished up his rookie season with 1,547 passing yards and nine touchdowns.
Olson served as assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012, overseeing the quarterback duo of Blaine Gabbert, the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, and Chad Henne, a second-round selection in 2008. With an injury-depleted rushing attack, Gabbert and Henne combined to rank 11th in the NFL with both 586 pass attempts and an average of 36.6 attempts per game.
Prior to joining the Jaguars, Olson served four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including the last three as offensive coordinator. Olson was responsible for the development of QB Josh Freeman, the 17th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Under Olson’s guidance, Freeman threw for 8,898 yards and 51 touchdowns in his first three seasons as a starter. In 2011, Olson helped guide the Buccaneers to one of their best offensive seasons in team history, setting franchise records for yards per play (5.61), average per rush (4.64 yards), average per pass play (7.21), passer rating (96.2) and fewest interceptions thrown (six).
The Buccaneers were the youngest team in the NFL in 2010 and WR Mike Williams, a fourth-round draft pick, finished the year leading all rookie receivers in the league in every major receiving category while setting a single-season team record with 11 touchdown receptions. RB LeGarrette Blount’s 1,007 rushing yards led all rookie running backs and he became just the second undrafted rookie running back in NFL history to finish with over 1,000 yards.
Despite his late elevation to the coordinator position in 2009, Olson’s offense showed consistent growth around Freeman. Working closely with Olson, Freeman led all rookie quarterbacks in completion percentage (54.5) while setting Buccaneer rookie records for touchdown passes (10) and passing yards (1,855) despite starting in just nine games. TE Kellen Winslow had the best season by a tight end in team history in 2009 as he led the team in receptions (77) and receiving yards (884), both good for single-season franchise records among tight ends.
In his first season in Tampa Bay in 2008, Olson was part of Head Coach Jon Gruden’s staff. The Buccaneers’ offense finished the season amassing 5,456 total yards, the highest total in team history, while scoring 361 points, the second-highest total in team annals. Under Olson’s tutelage, QB Jeff Garcia tied for second in the NFL for fewest interceptions (six), was ninth in the league and third in the NFC in completion percentage (64.9) and ninth in the NFL and fifth in the NFC in quarterback rating (90.2).
Prior to joining Tampa Bay, Olson spent two seasons (2006-07) as offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. In his first year with the Rams in 2006, he helped guide a high-powered offense that ranked sixth in the NFL in total offense (360.4 yards per game) and a passing offense that ranked third (247.6) in the NFC. Under Olson’s direction, the 2006 Rams became just the fourth team in NFL history to produce a 4,000-yard passer (QB Marc Bulger), a 1,500-yard rusher (RB Steven Jackson) and two 1,000-yard receivers (WRs Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce). Bulger, Jackson and Holt were all selected to the Pro Bowl.
Prior to his time with the Rams, Olson spent one season as quarterbacks coach (2004) and one season as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2005) for the Detroit Lions. In 2004, Olson took over play-calling duties for the Lions with three games remaining in the season and the Lions offense went on to average 403.6 total yards per game. In 2005, Olson was named offensive coordinator of the Lions in Week 11.
Olson entered the NFL as quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2001 under head coach Steve Mariucci. In 2001, Garcia threw for a career-high 32 touchdown passes while posting a career-best 94.8 passer rating and 62.7 completion percentage.
Following one season as tight ends/recruiting coordinator at Purdue, Olson spent one season as quarterbacks coach for the Chicago Bears in 2003.
From 1997-2000, as quarterbacks coach at Purdue, Olson played a key role in the development of future Pro Bowl and Super Bowl-winning QB Drew Brees. Under Olson, Brees was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1999 and 2000 while winning the Maxwell Award as the nation’s most outstanding player in 2000. He was also a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback in 1999 and 2000. Brees finished his collegiate career as the Big Ten and Purdue’s all-time leader in passing yardage (11,792), touchdown passes (90), total yards (12,693), completion percentage (61.1), completions (1,026) and attempts (1,678). He also ranked fourth in NCAA Division I-A history for total offense, completions and attempts upon his departure from Purdue. Brees earned Big Ten Player of Year honors in 1998 and 2000 and All-Conference accolades for three straight years (1998-2000).
Olson began his coaching career in 1987 as a graduate assistant under the guidance of head coaches Dennis Erickson (1987-88) and Mike Price (1989) at Washington State, where he earned his master’s degree in athletic administration, and published his master’s thesis titled “Developing Quarterback Skills in a Passing Offense.” He spent four seasons (1990-93) as an assistant at Central Washington University and two seasons at Idaho (1994-96). At Central Washington, Olson developed QB Jon Kitna, who went on to become an NFL starter at Seattle, Cincinnati and Detroit. Olson also served as wrestling coach for four seasons at Central Washington including the last two as head coach.
PERSONAL: Native of Richland, Wash. …Played quarterback at Spokane Falls Junior College (1981-82) and Central Washington (1983-84)…Earned bachelor’s degree in education from Central Washington...He and his wife, Lissa, have twins, Kenneth and Grayce (13)…Lissa was the first female to be named head coach of a Division I track and field men’s track team when she took over at Purdue in March of 2001.