If you want to know how Brock Olivo - a former NFL running back - is going to approach his job as Broncos’ new coordinator for special teams, all you need to know is his sophomore season at the University of Missouri.
That’s the year he volunteered to be on special teams.
A starting halfback for Mizzou in the mid-90s, Olivo noticed their ST unit wasn’t very good. So he went to his coach Larry Smith and offered his services.
“I said ‘I want to get on special teams, and I’m bringing these guys with me,’” Olivo said Tuesday in his first presser before local media, noting that whether his teammates liked it or not, they bought in. “I sold it to my teammates. ‘How cool are you if you are different and you make it a priority?’”
Olivo’s help paid off, and he was even named the first awardee of the Mosi Tatupu Award for the top special teams player in college football in 1997. Going undrafted, Olivo was picked up by the Detroit Lions where he made special teams his forté, leading the Lions special teams in tackles two of his four seasons there.
Olivo is the kind of coach who will have no problem getting guys to go through a wall for him. A ball of energy. That's how he played, too.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) February 7, 2017
That love for how special teams can impact the game is fueling the obvious passion and energy Olivo is bringing to the Broncos as a first-time coordinator.
“I feel ready. I feel like I’m ready to roll,” Olivo said, complimenting his former boss Dave Toub with preparing him well. “[Toub] does a great job because he involves you on a daily basis in the game planning. He makes you feel part of it. There’s a big difference between teaching and learning. Dave Toub gets that, and he approaches his players that way as well.”
"I feel ready. I'm ready to roll." - Brock Olivo (aka "Assistant Toub") on being a first-time ST coordinator. pic.twitter.com/CDxtTtiIa8— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) February 7, 2017
And that’s exactly how Olivo is going to approach special teams with the Broncos.
“We’re not just going to sit up and here and say, ‘hey we’ve got X and you’ve got O,”’ he said. “We’re going to make sure players understand why they’ve got X and why they’ve got O and why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Olivo got great experience learning how to explain “why” when he played and coached in Italy after leaving the NFL. Explaining the American game of football in a different language to 18-year-olds who grew up watching soccer will help you do that.
“Coaching overseas in Italy was an awesome experience. Teaching American football, the nuances of your game, in a foreign language...It taught me patience and teaching,” Olivo said. “There’s a huge difference between teaching and learning.”
The former Kansas City Chiefs assistant likes to follow a “kill philosophy” ... literally - “Keep It Likable and Learnable.”
“We’re going to play fast, we’re going to play hard. We’re going to KILL it,” he said, adding that his motto is to cut it loose and have fun. “These guys have a lot on their plate, so we’re not going to bog them down.”
Olivo gives secret to stopping Tyreek Hill: "The flu, flat tire."— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) February 7, 2017
Although special teams is often overlooked until it ruins the game or wins it, Olivo plans to bring a new identity “to town” while focusing on the “one-down philosophy” with special teams - the idea that the team has one chance to help the offense and defense get good field position and help win the game.
“Special teams can swing the course of the game and can win games in this league, so we’re going to implement that one-down philosophy,” Olivo said. “Our identity is going to be fast, smart, tough.”