As soon as the Raiders 2016 season ended, following their loss to the Texans in the Wild Card round in Houston, Jack Del Rio made his decision to let former offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave, go and promote quarterbacks coach, Todd Downing.
He needed to make his decision quickly because Downing was going to be a hot commodity as an offensive coordinator elsewhere, so Del Rio would have to choose between him and Musgrave.
“I was looking forward to the opportunity to run an offense somewhere in the NFL in 2017,” Downing said Wednesday in a conference call with local media. “I just feel really fortunate that Coach Del Rio has the trust in me, moving forward, to have that opportunity be here.”
Del Rio hinted at the interest Downing would receive in his post season press conference as well as his desire to keep him around.
“Well, we’ll see how it goes, you know?” Del Rio said of potential coaching changes. “Opportunities come up for guys. We were able to get that done last year and we’ll just see how that breaks for us this year. We’ve got a good group of guys. They work hard, they care. We’ll see where that goes.”
In most cases, coordinators get their first opportunity on a new team, often with a newly formed coaching staff. Downing won’t have to go through all that. He stays with the staff and quarterback he has coached the past two seasons.
“I think what’s unique about the situation here is I’m not installing an offense from the ground up,” Downing continued. “There is already a system in place and there is a lot about this system, to use a phrase before, that’s not broke.”
“It’s an incredible blessing to have my first opportunity this way. I know everybody on the staff very well, I know how to communicate with them, I know what makes them tick and what is the wrong way to approach things with them which kind of gives me a great head start in that.
“We’re going through offseason cut ups right now, evaluating the stuff we did last year and we’re able to have real and honest conversations about that without them feeling like I’m just critiquing them or taking shots at their position because I was in the trenches with them.”
This situation is better for Downing, but it’s also good for the Raiders to not have to find a new quarterbacks coach after Downing and Derek Carr had established such a great relationship, helping lead to Carr’s success last season.