Was Play Calling Behind Bill Musgrave’s Untimely Release?

After a 12-4 season, the Raiders didn’t seem like a great candidate for staff turnover. If anything, many thought head coach Jack Del Rio might bring a new voice to his 26th-ranked defense, but Ken Norton Jr. isn’t going anywhere. Instead, the Raiders made a surprise move and parted ways with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave – the mastermind of Oakland’s 6th-ranked offense.

The Raiders will say they made a tough decision between two hot coordinators, and while that’s probably the case, Del Rio’s history as a head coach would suggest no one should have been surprised by Tuesday’s news.

In Del Rio’s nine years with the Jaguars, he fired 19 assistant coaches and as one report put it, the Raiders’ head coach developed “a penchant for throwing players and assistants under the bus” during his time in Jacksonville.

Del Rio was low-key critical of Musgrave’s play calling in Oakland on a few occasions and some have suggested those comments may have played a role in the Raiders’ decision to part ways with Musgrave.

Now the Raiders will move forward with 36 year-old Todd Downing as offensive coordinator. Downing will preside over an offensive staff that includes Del Rio’s good friend and offensive line coach, Mike Tice – who happens to have given Downing his first NFL coaching position in 2003. Presumably, Musgrave’s offense will remain intact, but in all likelihood the play calling will reflect more of Del Rio’s philosophy – i.e. smashmouth football, ground and pound, or as Del Rio calls it, “big boy ball.”

As for the Raider defense, one theory as to why Norton Jr. was retained is because the defense belongs as much to his boss. Simply stated, Del Rio shares as much responsibility for the defensive struggles as Norton Jr. – and for that reason, Del Rio deserves credit for not making a scapegoat of his defensive coordinator.

Indeed, Captain Jack’s fingerprint is growing increasingly evident in Oakland.

Does that mean the Raiders will lose their edge on offense? It shouldn’t. Del Rio, after all, has been one of the more aggressive head coaches in the league over the past year. The better question might be whether or not Del Rio can get his defense in good enough form to make a run at the Super Bowl next season… or at least figure out who isn’t buying in.

twitter: @raidersbeat


3 thoughts on “Was Play Calling Behind Bill Musgrave’s Untimely Release?

  1. I seen this a long time coming ..I dont care what our O was ranked..It all came in 3rd and 4th quarter comeback in a hurry up offense cause Muscrave called a terrible game for the 1st half almost all yr long …How many times can we watch the same terrible screen to coop that never worked ,but yet kept trying it all yr …It never worked why keep trying ..Our Offense was terribly predictable and this is why he is gone ..Forget stats the playcalling was suspect at best and this is why he is gone ..For all those fans who only watched a few Raider games I can understand why u are wondering why he was fired …I played football since peewee to college and I can tell you from never missing one raider game muscgrave sux and the only reason he was on our team was there was no one else available at the time that wanted the job !!!Now we are a team that people want not only to play for ,,but want to coach here …This is a desirable franchise now …

  2. Yaaayyyy!!!! I am sooo glad this foo is ghandi. Muffgrave.. GTFOH! Welcome to big boy football Todd.
    Whoohooo!!! Just like “VP” says above, man I got sick of this guy’s BS play calling all year bro. Sheeez!
    Water under the bridge, but I still blame him for DC’s injury, and maybe.. that’s why heee’s outty! At any rate,
    super bright future ahead for the Raider Nation. Thank you front office, just made my year better. *high fives*

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