Oakland Raiders make offensive coordinator switch, replacing Bill Musgrave with QB coach Todd Downing

Raiders are expected to retain defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

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Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, left, talks with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, right, during practice at the NFL football team's training camp Saturday, July 30, 2016, in Napa, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, left, talks with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, right, during practice at the NFL football team's training camp Saturday, July 30, 2016, in Napa, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) — Eric Risberg

Despite the Raiders' offense often carrying them to their first postseason appearance in 14 seasons, coordinator Bill Musgrave won't return to Jack Del Rio's staff, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday. John Middlekauf of CSN and Bleacher Report says QB coach Todd Downing will replace Musgrave.

The 12-4 Raiders under Musgrave finished sixth in total offense, seventh in scoring and third in giveaways with just 14. Derek Carr, in his third season, ascended to an MVP candidate prior to his Week 16 broken leg, tossing 28 touchdowns to just six interceptions.

But Oakland struggled on offense at times in the second half of the season, and the belief from some in league circles is that Musgrave, historically known for being conservative, held back an explosive outfit until Carr was given more freedom to get in and out of plays at the line.

Prior to joining the Raiders in 2015, Musgrave held coordinator posts with the Vikings (2011-13), Jaguars (2003-04), Panthers (2000) and Eagles (1998).

Downing, a 16-year NFL coaching veteran, just completed his second season as Raiders QB coach. He held the same post with Buffalo in 2014 and in Detroit from 2009-13, overseeing Matthew Stafford's early development.

Though our initial reaction to this news was concern over a potential Carr regression because, in addition to rehabbing, he'd have to learn a new system, it's lessened by the choice to remain in house and promote Downing.

It was reported earlier defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. is expected to return. That may come as a surprise to some, as Oakland finished No. 20 in scoring and 26th in overall 'D.' But Norton's unit, prior to fizzling out vs. Brock Osweiler's Texans in the playoffs, showed improvement throughout the season as a slew of new starters assimilated. Norton is also a trusted lieutenant for Del Rio who reportedly played a part in the recruiting of some of Reggie McKenzie's offseason signings, namely Norton's former Seahawks pupil, Bruce Irvin.

Though the Raiders enjoyed a breakthrough season, our belief is they're still lacking a key playmaker on each side of the ball, with the most glaring upgrades needed at linebacker, as well as receiver and tight end.