ALAMEDA – Dark rain clouds constantly hover above the Raiders offense these days. There's only talk of doom and gloom.
The unit hasn't come close to realizing great expectation, and while nobody's publicly playing the blame game at the Raiders complex, this offense is chiefly responsible for a disastrous 6-9 campaign with Sunday's road game against the Chargers in Carson left on the docket.
Focus shifts beyond that meaningless game towards a pivotal offseason where key decisions must be made.
One will center on offensive coordinator Todd Downing, a young offensive mind who has struggled in his first year running the Raiders attack. It's getting harder to imagine him being retained after this year, to the point it's likely the Raiders will be looking for a new offensive coordinator this winter.
Head coach Jack Del Rio was asked about Downing's performance this year during a Wednesday press conference. He didn't offer a vote of confidence, but he didn't push Downing under the bus.
"Obviously a lot of things have gone in a negative direction, but I do know (Downing) is super bright and is going to be a real good coach in this league," Del Rio said. "I believe in him. Those are not things that people want to hear right now. The reality is that we've underperformed offensively this year, so naturally there will be those types of questions. We all understand that. He understands that. I understand that, but it doesn't change my belief. It's what I know. But there have been some tough sets of circumstances and things have not gone real smooth."
Players haven't executed well offensively, and analysts have suggested design has at times been easy to defend. Quarterback Derek Carr had a down year, with issues up front and at several skill positions. Most of those players make big money, so Downing might be the easiest impactful move to make.
The Raiders haven't pointed fingers, but that time will come after the season where moves will be made following a disappointing year for a once dynamic attack.