If you pay your dues in the NFL and do things the right way as you navigate the rough terrain of the league, the football gods may may smile down upon you and bless you with the opportunity of a lifetime. That’s exactly what happened to the Oakland Raiders’ new offensive coordinator Todd Downing, who took over one of the league’s most potent offensive units this offseason.
Last Friday, Downing sat down on the Sirius XM podcast “Move the Chains,” to discuss his relationship with the Raiders new $125 million man, Derek Carr.
“He’s humble, he’s hungry, he works harder than anybody in the building and I mean that sincerely,” said Downing of the star pivot. “This couldn’t have happened to a better person.”
Things are pretty good right now for Downing, who at just 36-years-old is taking over an offense that ranked sixth in the NFL in total yards last season. But he and Carr aren’t anywhere close to satisfied just yet.
“[Derek Carr] said something in a press conference that really jumped out to me a few weeks back, he said, ‘I can hit this throw eight out of ten times or nine out of ten times, but if I truly want to be elite, I got to hit it ten out of ten times.’”
Carr won’t be landing a 100% completion percentage anytime soon, but striving for perfection is what makes him one of the best young signal-callers in the league.
That, and an innate talent to slow down the game.
“I quickly got from him that he just see’s the game so well,” said Downing. “It comes to him slowly when the ball is snapped, it’s impressive.”
Carr has also been able to limit turnovers in his first three seasons, only tossing 31 interceptions thus far to match Aaron Rodgers’ total over his first three years as a starter as I discussed last week.
Not surprisingly, that aspect of Carr’s game also impressed Downing: “He’s a guy who understands, ‘hey this isn’t a time for me to throw a 50/50 ball here, this is a time for me to keep the chains moving.’”
The new offensive coordinator continued to heap praise on his young quarterback throughout the interview, but he also indicated that soon enough the bubbly optimism of the offseason will be replaced by the intensity of on-field play.
Carr and his coordinator both appear to be doing all the right things so far throughout their careers. Downing was rewarded with one of the most coveted jobs in the league this offseason, while his quarterback was rewarded with the richest per-year contract in league history. In a few short months these decisions by management will be expected to be produce elite results on the football field.
“The great equalizer in all of this is the football,” said Downing.