Allen explains rationale for hiring Olson as OC

Allen explains rationale for hiring Olson as OC
January 22, 2013, 5:15 pm
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MOBILE, Ala. -- If you think there's a bittersweet sense to the Raiders finding an offensive coordinator in Greg Olson too late to actively take part in the Senior Bowl by calling plays, think again.

Or at least, don't bring that line of thinking to coach Dennis Allen.

"I'm not really worried so much about the playcalling in this particular game," Allen told CSNBayArea.com Tuesday evening at the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel. "You're limited so much in what you can and can't do in this all-star game and there's only so much that you can install anyway.

[REWIND: Raiders officially hire Greg Olson as OC]

"The key for me is that he's here and he's able to evaluate the players and get a good feel for the players so that when we go back and begin to go through the evaluation process with him, with the players we have on the roster right now, you can kind of have a vision for where some of those guys fit it."

Fair enough, as senior offensive assistant Al Saunders will call plays for the North squad.

Then what appealed to Allen about Olson, with whom he had no previous relationship and whose hiring was officially announced Saturday?

"When you really look at it, and you talk to people around the National Football League, he's highly respected with everybody that I talked to," Allen said. "When you go through this process of hiring guys, you talk to a lot of people and you get some good (opinions) and you get some bad (opinions) and he was one of those guys that it was very, very hard to find anything negative about him.

"I like his demeanor, I like his philosophy I like the way he wants a tough, physical and yet explosive-type offense. And I liked the fact that he talked about, we've got to fit the scheme to the personnel, to the guys that we have and try to do the things that they do really well. And really limit the times that we ask them to do things that maybe they aren't as good at."

[RELATED: Olson seeks revival of Al Davis football in Oakland]

In his rookie year as an NFL head coach, though, Allen hired Greg Knapp to scrap the previous power-blocking scheme, which was successful in the run game, and install his version of the West Coast Offense, with a zone-blocking scheme that proved disastrous for running back Darren McFadden. Might the switch back to a philosophy of molding the scheme to the players on hand be a sign of a young coach learning and growing on the job?

"I think everything's a growing process," Allen said. "You're either getting better or you're getting worse and every day you've got to grow and you've got to learn. It's no different than anything else. It's no different than, my brother's a doctor. Well, he didn't have all the answers when he first started but as you go along, you get better and better. And that's no different than a player."

Or a coach, it turns out.

***

Allen confirmed he is zeroing in on a new offensive line coach, but would not divulge who any of the finalists were on the second day of Senior Bowl Week.

"We're closer, we're closer," Allen said. "We haven't got it all taken care of yet so I'm going to wait and make that announcement once we get it done. But I know everybody wants us to, hey, get this done. But the key is making sure you get the right guys. So we're not going to panic. We're going to take our time and make sure we get the right guys in there and it's time for this team to move forward."

The biggest name to reportedly interview for the job is former Philadelphia defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. However, the Ravens hired Castillo on Monday to coordinate their running game as they prepare to face the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.

This week, tight ends coach Mark Hutson is coaching the O-line, defensive assistant Travis Smith is coaching the linebackers and offensive assistant Nick Holz is coaching the tight ends.

***

I asked Allen, who owns a Super Bowl ring as a member of New Orleans' coaching staff three years ago, his Super Bowl pick -- San Francisco or Baltimore?

He furrowed his brow…then exhaled. Deeply.

"I'd probably be in a lot of trouble if I didn't say the 49ers since I'm there in the Bay Area," Allen said with a laugh. "But I think it's going to be a great game. I think both of those coaches do an outstanding job, both of those organizations are first-class organizations. So, it will be a fun game to watch."

***

Earlier, in a general media conference, Allen was asked how he thought one of his coaching mentors, Saints coach Sean Payton, would respond to being reinstated from his season-long suspension for his role in New Orleans' Bountygate scandal.

"I think he'll respond great," Allen said. "I'm excited for him. He's a football coach, he deserves to be coaching football and I'm glad he's back."

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