If you look at a calendar and realize how much changed for the Oakland Raiders in the last year, it is astounding. In the NFL, the successful teams find a balance between change and consistency. In Oakland, the Raiders relied on the former over the latter. As a result, the Raiders are on their fourth coach of the Reggie McKenzie Era. After Allen, Sparano, and Del Rio, the Raiders faced more questions than answers.
2017 Head Coach: Jack Del Rio
Although the Raiders finished 2016 with a 12-4 record, Del Rio decided to move on from offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. A year ago, people could not detail how Todd Downing would affect the offense. After the playoffs, Del Rio signed a contract extension. While the noise never rose above a whisper, people tied the new contract to Del Rio’s Jacksonville tenure. As a result, the fear of complacency echoed through the fanbase. After a 6-10 nightmare, that featured defensive collapses and offensive ineptitude, the Raiders fired Del Rio.
Now: Del Rio spends his days engaged in Twitter discourse regarding everything. On the positive side, the contract extension provided him a nice retirement bonus.
2017 Offensive Coordinator: Todd Downing
When the Raiders allowed Bill Musgrave to leave, people scratched their heads. In May 2017, people did not know what to expect with Downing. Granted, he never constructed an entire offense before. However, some relied on his relationship with Derek Carr. At this point, fans believed that Downing could actually improve Carr. The prolific 2016 offense sputtered last year. The Raiders failed to score at least twenty points in ten games. In addition, the playcalling lacked aggression and flair. Throwing short of the sticks on third downs drove the fanbase crazy.
Downing seemed overmatched in his job. Armed with a potentially potent running game, the Raiders ranked 30th in rushing attempts. Behind that offensive line, the 2017 Raiders needed to pound other teams into submission. Yet, that never materialized. The Raiders failed to register 20 first downs in nine games.
Now: Downing now serves as a senior offensive assistant for the Minnesota Vikings.
In reality, the Raiders appeared in trouble long before the first snap. With a coach armed with an extension, the offense lost their edge. Under a novice coordinator, the team sputtered. Fast forward to 2018, and the team looks in better shape. While Jon Gruden’s approach also raises questions, at least he wants to establish a punishing identity on offense.