ALAMEDA -- Rather than seeing an offense as a static playbook with a list of plays, Greg Olson views it as an evolutionary being.
An offense lives and breathes. It changes and mutates almost as if it were walking on two legs.
With the Raiders concluding their three-day mandatory minicamp Thursday, Olson, the choice of Dennis Allen as the new offensive coordinator, is still in the process of watching his unit mature.
"I've been exposed to a number of different systems and if there's one thing I've learned, it's you'd better adapt to the players you have on your team," Olson said.
Olson's philosophy is in stark contrast to predecessor Greg Knapp, who likened himself to a professor teaching his area of expertise, ending up with an offense ill-suited to bring out the best in his players.
The most glaring example was running back Darren McFadden, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 2010 and 2011 in Hue Jackson's power-based run scheme and dropped to 3.3 yards last season in Knapp's stretch-and-cut zone-blocking system.
Although quarterback Carson Palmer compiled big numbers, the Raiders offense did not take full advantage of his arm strength and ability to deliver the ball downfield.
Olson's background includes working in West Coast offshoots with Steve Mariucci in San Francisco and Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay. He's worked in downfield systems run by St. Louis Rams coaches Mike Martz and Scott Linehan.
Modern football, Olson believes, demands flexibility because of the turnover created by collective bargaining and free agency. With the Raiders possibly having more than 35 new players on a 53-man roster, Olson's ideas made sense to Allen.
"I think great coaching is adapting a scheme to fit the players that you have -- putting those players in the position to give them the best chance to have success," Allen said. "I think he's done a real nice job of that."
Olson cites Gruden as the most influential coach he has worked with and, like Gruden, he keeps a running dialogue with his offensive players. He wants to know what plays they like and why they like them.
"Oley has this aura about him. You can feel the creativity," said fullback Marcel Reece. "He's always thinking about football. He's always thinking about matchups. He loves talking about football. It's a great feeling in the building right now."
The three-day minicamp had its share of growing pains for the new offense. The passing game, in particular, was hit and miss, although part of that was by design. The Raiders blitzed heavily on defense and had minimal seven-on-seven passing drills, choosing instead to put quarterbacks and the offensive line under pressure.
"We wanted to put as much pressure on our players as we could," Olson said.
Olson plans on making McFadden the hub of the power running game, noting that, while he believes the Raiders have capable quarterbacks in Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor and Tyler Wilson, "We're not sitting here claiming we have Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady."
The playmaking potential intrigues Olson, and he thinks the line coached by Tony Sparano "is the strength of our unit."
Reece said he can hardly wait to see what Olson will come up with next.
"He's like a mad scientist," Reece said. "I don't think I've even seen half of what he has in store for this team."
"I know there's a lot of experts out there that might think differently, but I like this football team," Allen said.
"They want to see, going into my 17th year, that I am not going to be a guy that's going to sit on the sideline all the time and let everybody else take all the reps," Woodson said. "That's not me."
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