Is the grass always greener on the other side? Both the Raiders defense and Broncos offense will field new coordinators as both teams try to keep their season alive in an AFC West battle.
The Oakland Raiders defense will face a familiar offensive coordinator when the Denver Broncos come to town. Former Raiders OC Bill Musgrave (2015-16) takes over offensive coordinator duties for the 18th rated offense headed into Oakland.
Denver already benched a quarterback and they have not scored more than 20 points in seven of the last eight games this season.
Musgrave takes over as offensive coordinator after beginning the season as QBs coach. He has been offensive coordinator with the Raiders, Vikings, Falcons, Jaguars, and Panthers during his coaching career. Musgrave was also QB coach with the Eagles, Raiders, Washington, Panthers, and Falcons over his 20-year career. He was also the OC and QB coach for Virginia. He played QB at the University of Oregon, San Francisco, and Denver.
Musgrave has coordinated offenses that rely on dominate rushing attacks. Expect Denver to continue to put an emphasis on the running game. They can use this to open more play action and option passes too.
Raiders fans grew frustrated with Musgrave’s at-times, conservative play calling. However, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said he wants his offense to be more efficient. That means simplifying the offense to faster progressions. It could also mean more dual tight end formations that should look to better protect the quarterback and get the ball out faster. Could the Broncos even incorporate a sixth offensive lineman as a TE like the one Oakland did under Musgrave?
Otherwise, Denver can incorporate more vertical passes under Musgrave. Over his career, Musgrave gets a lot of credit for tailoring the offense to hi personnel. This is something he did in Oakland that included vertical passing. Expect the Broncos to take some shots as Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have yet to find the impact they are accustomed.
Musgrave’s time with the Philadelphia Eagles helped him pick up some modern spread concepts. The Broncos will definitely look to utilize these to improve out of shotgun. The team should incorporate some more run-pass option plays as well as zone reads with Musgrave calling plays.
Additionally, expect Musgrave and the Broncos to incorporate more sub packages. Denver has been a backfield by committee over the season and that should only increase under Musgrave’s vaulted rushing attack.
In the same interview, Joseph said a cleaner offense may mean doing some of the same things over again. That might be great at helping his offense mastering the scheme but that means it will be incredibly important for the Raiders to make adjustments. Under new DC John Pagano, the Raiders will need to catch onto Musgrave’s play calling early. Oakland fans know how conservative Musgrave’s play calling can become.
Denver has thrown nine of 10 interceptions out of three receiver sets during the team’s 6-game losing streak. So far, Denver’s offense allowed 30 sacks and thrown 14 interceptions on the season. It will be on the Raiders to exploit every opportunity to make a play and end a drive.
None of Musgrave’s play calling will matter if the offensive line does not show that it can improve in pass pro. Football Outsiders ranks them at No. 26 in pass pro, despite the unit being eighth in run blocking.
The Raiders will need their defensive line to blitz more and disrupt the passing game. Their defensive tackles will need to hold their double teams and prevent the Broncos offensive line from getting push. Either way, it remains to be seen in the Broncos can execute better and more efficient under Musgrave.