In a surprising move, the Oakland Raiders did not renew the contract of OC Bill Musgrave. Quarterbacks coach Todd Downing assumes the role of Offensive Coordinator. While this is news is initially stunning, his departure confirms the beliefs of many. Much of Oakland’s success is due to the gray matter between the ears of MVP candidate Derek Carr.
The answer is Musgrave didn’t always have the greatest grasp on what was happening in real-time. Perhaps like much of Raider Nation, head coach Jack Del Rio grew increasingly tired of watching screen passes. Or the nonstop underneath crossing routes dialed up for third and long. Perhaps, watching his Pro Bowl bell cow Latavius Murray put the team on his back and carry them into the endzone. Suddenly, Murray stopped touching the ball. The smart money would set on losing the division title by allowing a team to keep ten men in the box all game long. Musgrave became his own worse enemy.
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On the other hand, maybe Del Rio didn’t make the decision. Raiders owner Mark Davis appeared angry when franchise jewel Derek Carr broke his leg. Television cameras caught Davis showering Musgrave with obscenities from the owner’s box on Christmas Eve. “What the (expletive) are you doing!” “You don’t throw the (expletive) ball there!”
Up 19 with 11 minutes to go in the third quarter makes Davis right. For the purpose of burning the clock, this football team with the lead was unable to pound the rock in order to close out games. Musgrave seemed content to allow defenses to dictate to him, instead of taking the fight to them. Amari Cooper is the most dynamic wide receiver the Oakland Raiders have. Yet, his inexplicable slump this year is partially attributed to lack of creativity in the way Musgrave called plays.
Generally speaking, Bill Musgrave’s tenure in Oakland needs positive acknowledgement. He is an upgrade over Greg Olson and guided Derek Carr during his formative year. However, his conservative nature ended up as his downfall. Todd Downing inherits a strong offense. It’s time to see if he learned from Musgrave’s errors.