Bill Musgrave's contract was up this offseason. The Raiders let their offensive coordinator's deal expire, a move that was a surprise for most.
Musgrave led a potent offense ranked sixth in yards and seventh in scoring, but was allowed to walk away. The Raiders promoted quarterbacks coach Todd Downing, who is expected to give Derek Carr more freedom at the line of scrimmage.
That fact was relayed by David Carr, an NFL Network analyst and Derek's older brother.
"Downing is going to do a fantastic job," David Carr said, in an interview with 95.7-FM The Game in San Francisco. "Musgrave, for as good as he was – I've been around it -- there is old style thinking. Derek has been in such a place, especially now, at this point in his career, it's time for some more flexibility and to let him just take ownership of this thing. That's hard for some coordinators. I was with Kevin Gilbride in New York, and it was hard even to let Eli Manning, who is an absolute master at the line of scrimmage, to give him the freedom to do that. I think some guys are like that. Musgrave is that way. He wanted to give Derek freedom but, at the same time, I've been doing this for 20 years, I have a certain way of doing things. I think you'll see more freedom from Derek at the line of scrimmage and flexibility there."
Derek Carr has a strong bond with Downing, a promising young coach the Raiders blocked from interviewing for promotions outside the organization.
The Raiders want to keep him and their franchise quarterback together in the long term, to let them grow together from a season to the next. According to David Carr, getting rid of Musgrave eliminates the middle man.
"Him and Downing have an incredible relationship," David Carr said. "They talk every day on the phone, gameplan-wise. He was the in-between guy. Derek would give ideas, Downing would take them to Musgrave, and if they got through they got through. If they didn't get through, they just didn't get through. Now you kind of eliminate that gap, it's going to be good. They're not going to miss a beat."
David Carr also said Derek is doing well rehabilitating form surgery to repair a broken fibula. Derek Carr was focused on returning should the Raiders have qualified for the Super Bowl, though his rehab has slowed after a playoff loss at Houston. He is expected to return at some point in the offseason program.
"If you're going to pick somebody to go through this, I don't know if there's a better person to do so," David Carr said. "He's an absolute dog. There's nobody who will deal with it better. … He has always been like that. He never gave up, even with a broken leg and a plate in his foot."