The Raiders offense was among the league’s best, and their defense was one of the worst.
That doesn’t mean that they’ll be retaining their offensive coordinator, though, with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reporting that Oakland and Bill Musgrave will be parting ways.
The report doesn’t mention defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., who has been on the hot seat for most of 2016, and the move could be among the biggest surprises of the newest NFL offseason.
The 2016 Raiders, under Musgrave’s leadership, were sixth in the league for total yards, and sixth in rushing yards, also ranking 13th in passing yards and seventh in points.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio stated in his end-of-season press conference that some coaches might not be coming back, though he drew no conclusions, and the most obvious candidate to leave was Norton.
Now, the next most obvious candidate is Todd Downing, the team’s quarterbacks coach, who could very well become Oakland’s offensive coordinator.
The passing game grew from middling to explosive since both Musgrave and Downing came over, and a promotion of Downing would preserve a semblance of continuity.
Musgrave was on Del Rio’s staff for two seasons in Jacksonville, from 2003-’04, but met the same fate. Del Rio’s criticism of his own team has mostly been on the defensive side, specifically leveraging and tackling — something he mentioned more than he didn’t — but it seems that Norton Jr. will be returning for another years.
Downing entered the league as offensive quality control coach for the Vikings in 2005, and worked for St. Louis and Detroit in a multitude of capacities before earning a promotion to Lion’s quarterbacks coach in 2011.
The 36-year-old was hired in the same position after Detroit gutted their staff, spending 2014 with the Bills, and joined the Raiders with Jack Del Rio, after Buffalo disbanded their staff in favor of Rex Ryan’s.
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 Raiders football.