Musgrave resets Raiders offense ‘from the ground up’

Bill Musgrave came to Oakland as a former pupil to Chip Kelly, having experience with a young quarterback, and having run several offenses.

His system for the Raiders, though, is totally new. Or at least that’s what he’s saying:

“We’ve done a nice job of putting this system together. It’s not some system from Philly or Minnesota or Atlanta, but we’ve really tried to build it from the ground up to make it make sense to us as teachers and also our pupils. I think they’ve done a fantastic job.”

Musgrave isn’t about to let the world know what he’s cooking, and especially not in June. It’s typical for a coach, whether it be position coach, coordinator, or head coach, to remain quiet on any future plans.

Everything that’s going to get out, 99 percent at least, shows up on tape. And tape only.

But considering the roster, particularly the younger players on it, it wouldn’t be surprising if he decided to draw up plays all over again.

Quarterback Derek Carr, who is happy in general, seems to like what Musgrave has been doing. So has Latavius Murray, who’s the favorite to lead Oakland’s backfield.

Rookie tight end Clive Walford, too.

Musgrave’s influences feature the tight end a lot. As quarterbacks coach during 2014 with Philadelphia, Musgrave saw Kelly’s offense throw 140 times to tight ends.

129 tight end targets in Minnesota during Musgrave’s last offensive coordinator stint actually surpasses the rate in Philly, due to the Vikings running 63 plays per game that year, compared to the Eagles’ 70 per game in 2014.

Oakland backup quarterback Christian Ponder worked under Musgrave at Minnesota for the entirety of his three-year starting career. He’s spoken fondly of his coordinator, most importantly that Musgrave is good at tailoring his plans to the strengths of the roster.

Minnesota’s offense under Musgrave ranked above the league average in points per game all three years, and running back Adrian Peterson had the best season of his career, and the best season by a running back in the modern NFL.

Murray is someone Musgrave likes, but wants to see more consistency out of. That goes for everyone Musgrave likes, he says:

“We always chart our mental mistakes and mental errors every day. They’ve gradually gone down as we work through these 10 OTAs plus the three mini-camps. We feel like the guys are getting more comfortable so they can play faster ultimately.”

Speed is something expected in this system.

His offense with the Vikings was slow. He was able to study some intricacies of Kelly’s offense last year, and it’s a safe bet Raiders fans will see versions of those elements this season.

Especially with weapons like Carr, Murray, Walford, and receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

Connecting to football’s best guard

Musgrave’s value to the Raiders during a month layoff until training camp could prove immense over the coming week.

The Eagles released guard Evan Mathis Thursday, the best guard in the NFL, and a guy looking for a deal laden with incentives.

Mathis played his entire career with Philadelphia until his release, and never tapered. Even after missing the first half of 2014, Mathis finished as the second highest grading out as Pro Football Focus’ second best of the season.

His relationship with the Eagles deteriorated after he was offered an incentive laden deal by former general manager Howie Rosemon told him that the same deal would remain available.

Kelly took the reigns of coach and personnel manager, and Mathis found the deal to be absent, with Kelly adamant. The spat went public, and led to the team and Mathis parting ways.

Oakland’s offensive line would be stout, if not stellar, with the addition of Mathis. The right guard spot is without an obvious starter, and not because of immense depth.

Mathis would likely serve the team better on the right side, though he’s played left guard his entire career. Gabe Jackson played well at left guard his 2014 rookie season, and the team probably wouldn’t want to try to fix something that isn’t broken.

The right side is, though, and Mathis would be an easy and excellent repair.

Musgrave could be the ultimate difference maker there, and Oakland has plenty of cap space to bring Mathis in, according to OverTheCap.com.

With the addition of Mathis, Oakland’s line would likely be Donald Penn (LT), Gabe Jackson (LG), Rodney Hudson (C), Mathis (RG) and Menelik Watson (RT).


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.