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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs had a West Coast look to them in minicamp



When the Bucs fired Jon Gruden in January 2009, that didn't mean his entire offensive philosophy went with him.

After firing former offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski in August after seven months on the job, Greg Olson was thrust into the job and had to make something of nothing. To that end, last season's offense had a lot of Gruden's components, including the terminology.

Now, Olson has had an entire offseason to mold the offense into what he wants it to be. And, based on what we reporters witnessed during this week's minicamp, he wants it to be a lot like the West Coast offense, which is essentially what Gruden ran in Tampa Bay.

There were a lot of horizontal routes, like slants, which are fundamental in the West Coast scheme. Olson knows this tactic runs counter to what quarterback Josh Freeman's strengths seem to be, given his strong arm and ability to hang in the pocket and elude the pass rush.

But consider what he told the Times recently before making a snap judgment: "More than half the teams in the league run a version of the West Coast. It's just a matter of putting in some of the vertical stretch things that I felt I learned while I was in St. Louis. . .  I'm incorporating some of those concepts with Josh Freeman because he's, to me, a guy who can push the ball down the field."

And therein lies the difference between what Olson is proposing and Gruden's offense. We saw some of this in action this week as Freeman was allowed to open it up at times. Gruden liked to think the short passing game would eventually set up an occasional long ball, but that rarely seemed to transpire. Part of that was the fact that he rarely had strong-armed quarterbacks to begin with, much less receivers who could get deep, with the exception of Joey Galloway.

The bottom line is, Olson worked under a number of different coaches (including Mike Martz) and will implement concepts from all of them. That's a good thing. Gruden's offense and play-calling had many drawbacks, but if Olson can cherry pick the finer aspects, that's a good thing for the Bucs. Same with Martz's scheme and play-calling, which have some weaknesses, too.

It's going to be interesting to watch Olson mold this unit and call plays in his revised scheme. And whatever happens, Olson figures to be a better coordinator this season because anything beats what he was asked to do last year.

[Last modified: Monday, July 19, 2010 2:42pm]


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