Buccaneers offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson met with the media after practice on Tuesday. On the eve of the Bucs final preseason game, Tampa Bay fired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and gave those duties to Olson. After a few days in his new role Olson discussed his reaction to the change.
"Certainly it is a difficult position, but I think opportunity comes obviously in many different ways," said Olson. "There is just really no other answer when it was presented to me. Am I excited about the opportunity? Yes. Did it come at the wrong time? Yes, but you need to put your nose to the grindstone and go to work. There is no other answer to that. Again coach Jagodzinski set a foundation. We'll move forward with the foundation. Did it catch me off guard and people off guard? Certainly it does, but there is no other decision but to keep working."
Olson indicated that there would be differences with him as coordinator, but not a fundamental turnover in the Bucs offense.
"When you take over a situation like this it is difficult to make wholesale changes," said Olson. "But ownership, management, did not feel it was going in the direction they wanted. There will be some changes that are going to be made. Otherwise they wouldn't have made the change. There is going to be some changes but certainly it is difficult a week before the opener to go in and change an entire offense. Going forward there will be some tweaks in the system. The bottom line is we have to do some things better with the system we already established."
Head coach Raheem Morris tabbed Olson for the job, and talked about what Olson would add to the offense.
"When you talk about what [Olson] brings to the table you talk about more dynamic routes," said Morris. "You'll see different runs. You'll see more lofts down the field. When you talk about the run offense, he'll get the run game going, the backside cutoffs. You'll see more of the downfield double move hitch, things of that nature. You'll see the timing game there as well. We want to be a good team, and we'll have to have that play action passing game."
Jagodzinski had never called plays in his career before coming to Tampa Bay. After three preseason games Morris felt a change in play caller was needed. Morris said he doesn't get involved in the offense's play calling. Instead he offers ideas, and observations to his coaches. Morris said in the meeting room he shares how a defense would think in certain situations, but the play calling would be an area that Olson will have complete control over. Olson will direct the offense through starting quarterback Byron Leftwich.
"I don't want to say it will be better or worse, but we haven't changed a lot," Leftwich said. "We changed some things because [Jagodzinski] and [Olson] are two different people. We changed some things, but at the same time we haven't really changed a lot. We are not trying to go in and put in a new system in a week. We aren't doing that. We just have a different guy calling the system. Different ideas, different formations, here and there, so there are differences, but we won't be learning a brand new complete offense in a week. There will be some new wrinkles added in. As a player in this league, you're taught to go play and that is what I'll do. Everybody, we are professionals, we are able to deal with a lot more than you guys give us credit for. In this league and in this time frame, things always happen on every team. Because everybody knows we are done to the last cuts, so you kind of prepare yourself for something to happen, but I'd say none of us were prepared for that, but we are professionals. We will prepare like men and move on."
Leftwich said that he and Olson have good chemistry together.
"I like him a lot from a standpoint he'll bring. He'll keep that aggressive mindset," said Leftwich. "He loves when you play aggressive at the quarterback position, but he also wants you to play smart. He challenges you as a quarterback. He puts you in tough situations to see how you react and what response you come up with. That is the thing I like about Olson is you're always stimulated. You're always thinking and you're always going. That [makes us prepared for Sunday]."
Other offensive players echoed the comments from Leftwich that not a lot has changed. Olson has the past season to draw upon with Bucs veterans. Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden hired him in 2008 after spending two seasons (2006-07) as the offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. Center Jeff Faine said the offense will look similar to what the Buccaneers have done leading up to the start of the season.
"There's a lot of category," said Faine. "You just don't have the time to switch the entire offense. That being said, I don't know that we had to even switch it. It will be something very similar regardless. We had a good base in with Jags, and it will be what it was. We're playing football out there. It's 11 on 11."
The running game is guided by offensive line coach Pete Mangurian, and prior to being promoted Olson oversaw the passing attack. The goals and concepts of the offense stay the same with the in-house promotion of Olson. Running back Cadillac Williams indicated that the Bucs plan on doing the same things they wanted to under Jagodzinski.
"Coach Olson just expanded the playbook a little bit," said Williams. "I think he'll get Clifton Smith a little more involved and stuff like that. A lot of the stuff is being pushed together, but a lot of the same things are being emphasized. We want to run the ball and pass off play-action, and be an aggressive offense."
In his first season with the Rams, Olson helped St. Louis' offense rank sixth overall in the NFL. The team's passing offense ranked third in the NFC. In addition, the offense ranked third in the NFL in first downs (332) and second in the NFC in points scored in the red zone (273). Rams quarterback Marc Bulger threw for over 4,000 yards, running back Steven Jackson rushed for over 1,500 yards and wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Tory Holt each turned in 1,000-yard seasons.
Prior to his tenure with the Rams, Olson served as offensive coordinator with Detroit (2005). He has also served as a quarterbacks coach with the Lions, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. Olson was a quarterbacks coach at Purdue from 1997-2000, and played an integral role in developing current Saints QB Drew Brees. Olson believes the Buccaneers have the makings of good passing offense, but that sounds to be secondary to the Tampa Bay ground game.
"Again without wanting to give any information out to opponents, we have got some weapons that look good," said Olson. "We feel real good about our running backs in that running back room. Running the football is important to me. I believe in establishing the run for an offense. We'll go from there. I think our strengths as a football team lie in that running back room, and that offensive line. It all begins with those guys."