JACKSONVILLE – Greg Olson liked Blake Bortles from the start.
And while it's not accurate to say Bortles was the only reason he took the Jaguars' offensive coordinator job, it is accurate to say Olson knows the young quarterback is key to his new position.
Olson, hired by Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley last week to be the Jaguars' fourth offensive coordinator in five seasons, appeared on Jaguars.com LIVE Wednesday afternoon, an appearance that marked his first public comments since re-joining the franchise.
His message was clear:
He likes a lot about Bortles, the Jaguars' second-year quarterback.
Not only that, Bortles' development is critical to pretty much everything about the Jaguars' offense and the team as a whole.
"Most importantly, we have to make sure that what we're doing offensively is based upon the development and the strengths of Blake Bortles," Olson said. "If you look at every year, year in and year out in the National Football League, the teams in the playoffs are getting there for the most part based on the play of their quarterback and the development of their quarterback.
"We'll do whatever we can to develop Blake's strengths and play upon his strengths and the playmakers around him. That will be first and foremost in our minds."
Olson, the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach under Mike Mularkey in 2012, was the Oakland Raiders' offensive coordinator the past two seasons, and was heavily involved as the Raiders scouted quarterbacks in advance of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Raiders selected Derek Carr early in the second round, but Olson scouted Bortles and attended his Pro Day in Orlando.
Bortles and Olson can't talk football until late April. That's when the Jaguars' offseason program officially begins.
When that happens, Olson said the first priority isn't Xs and Os.
"For me, it's the development of trust," Olson said. "There has to be a tremendous amount of trust between the quarterback and the offensive coordinator. He needs to know that everything I'm doing is designed to try and help him get better as a quarterback and designed with his development in mind.
"More than anything, it will be about sitting down with Blake and getting to know him a little better in a one-on-one situation."
Olson, who previously has been a coordinator with Detroit Lions (2004-2005), the St. Louis Rams (2006-2007), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2009-2011) and the Raiders, worked with Bradley when Olson was the quarterbacks coach in Tampa Bay in 2008. Bradley was the Buccaneers' linebackers coach from 2006-2008.
"Gus and I developed a friendship in that time," Olson said. "I feel fortunate that I've had a chance to work with him. He's a tremendous football coach with tremendous energy and passion for teaching and coaching. That drew me to him and drew me to his personality. I feel fortunate I was able to maintain that relationship since that time."
Olson, officially hired last Wednesday, has spent much of this week interviewing candidates for the offensive staff, hiring former Raiders running backs coach Kelly Skipper as running backs coach on Wednesday. Once a staff is in place, the group will study personnel and design the offense around that.
"There are very few players on that (2012) team that are still here," he said. "We're trying to find what best fits the strengths of Blake and the playmakers around him. Fortunately or unfortunately, I've been in a lot of different systems. I've taught a lot of different systems. I've always tried to play upon the strengths of the players that we have.
"I was different when I was in St. Louis to Tampa to Oakland. It's just dependent on those players and how we can best fit those players and get the ball in the hands of our playmakers."
Olson also addressed the Jaguars' offensive line approach moving forward. The team utilized primarily zone-blocking techniques the past two seasons. Olson said he and Marrone will decide whether to use gap- or zone-blocking techniques after evaluating personnel.