Todd Downing Named Raiders OC: Latest Details, Reaction

Tyler ConwayFeatured Columnist

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 8:  Quarterbacks coach Todd Downing of the Oakland Raiders looks on from the sideline during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 8, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Raiders 38-35. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Despite a breakout season from Derek Carr and boasting one of the NFL's best offenses, the Oakland Raiders have made a change at offensive coordinator. 

The Raiders announced on Saturday that Todd Downing will take over for Bill Musgrave at the position. Musgrave played out the 2016 season on the last year of his contract and will not be returning. Bay Area Radio host John Middlekauff and George Takata of KSEE 24 first reported the news on Jan. 10.

Musgrave, 49, has served as the Raiders offensive coordinator under coach Jack Del Rio for the last two seasons. He came over after a one-year stint as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach.

Downing, 36, has served as the quarterbacks coach under Del Rio. He previously held the same position with the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions but has never been a coordinator at any level.

Del Rio's decision to make a change here is puzzling, given Oakland's 2016 success. The Raiders ranked sixth in total offense and seventh in scoring, which were seismic improvements over their struggles in 2015. (Oakland ranked 24th in total offense and 17th in scoring the year prior.)

Football Outsiders ranked Oakland's offense seventh, a leap of 11 spots.

Much of that can be attributed to an offensive line that ranks among the best in football and a leap from Carr, who was an MVP candidate before a late-season injury. Carr threw for 3,937 yards and 28 touchdowns against six interceptions, leading the Raiders to their first winning season and playoff appearance since 2002.

“I love Coach Musgrave,” wide receiver Amari Cooper told Vic Tafur of SFGate in November. “He gets me in great position and in space where I can make plays. He calls the plays based on everyone’s strengths, and there is more trust now that we’re all in our second year together and we’re going deeper into the playbook.”

While the Raiders had unprecedented success given their last decade of futility, they did fade down the stretch. Oakland scored less than 20 points in four of its last five games, though two of those were without Carr. The offense saw particular frustrations in the red zone, fading from a red-hot start that saw the Raiders convert touchdowns on 10 of their first 11 opportunities.

Musgrave's game-planning also fell apart without Carr. The Raiders scored just 20 points combined in their regular-season finale against the Denver Broncos and Wild Card Round loss to the Houston Texans. Rookie Connor Cook completed 18 of 45 passes and threw three interceptions against Houston in his first NFL start.

Perhaps Del Rio looked at that performance and thought the offense had peaked under Musgrave. Or maybe Downing's rising profile made the Raiders more eager to keep him than Musgrave, who is well-regarded but doesn't have a reputation as a mastermind.

Either way, it's not a surprise to see a coordinator sent packing in Oakland. It is, however, a bit of a shock to see which side of the ball that move came on.

   

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