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ALAMEDA – The Raiders offense is headed for historic lows. The running game is dead last in the NFL, on pace to turn in the worst per game average since 1946. The team’s passing yards per attempt is on target for a franchise low.
When things go sour-milk bad, there’s blame spread between players, executives and coaches. Right or wrong, offensive coordinator Greg Olson's efforts have received criticism of late.
While interim head coach Tony Sparano is an offensive mind and former coordinator, he hasn’t considered taking over play calling responsibilities or exerting greater influence during games. Sparano remains the offensive line coach and, as head coach, a chief in-game manager. He’s involved in the offensive game plan, but has let Olson operate with autonomy.
“I have all the confidence in the world in Greg,” Sparano said. “I think Greg’s done a very good job since I’ve been here with Greg as far as him running his (unit) and doing the things he needs to do that way.
“At this point in time, everybody’s looking for answers. We have to stay the course in what our beliefs are.”
Sparano reiterated that fact several times during a Monday press conference. The Raiders will continue to work towards better results. That means Olson’s duties won’t change.
“To be honest with you, the guy is one of the brighter minds I’ve been around in this business,” Sparano said on 95.7 the game. “He’s done a good job. I’m not calling plays. I have input into the game plan obviously. I have quite a bit of input on both sides of the ball right now. As far as calling the plays go, that’s Greg’s responsibility."
While it’s easy to cast blame when things go south, Olson has done some nice things since joining the Raiders before the 2013 season. He patched up an injury-riddled offensive line last year and helped a career backup in Rashad Jennings guide a ground game that exceeded 2,000 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. He made the most of a disastrous quarterback situation last year, altering his playbook to fit Terrelle Pryor and then Matt McGloin after Matt Flynn flamed out.
He’s also responsible, in large part, for quarterback Derek Carr’s quick development, which proved vital after Matt Schaub’s arm grew suspect.
The Raiders have also struggled under Olson’s watch, but talent plays a part in that. The Raiders don’t have enough. Scheme is part of it, but Sparano isn’t ready to abandon ship in rough water and add more opinions to the mix during games.
“I learned a long time ago,” Sparano said, “from a pretty darn good football coach in this league (Bill Parcells), that too many chefs in the kitchen isn’t good news.”