Todd Downing took a long, winding road to become the Raiders offensive coordinator.
He started work in the NFL as a public relations intern for Minnesota before moving into the football side of things under Mike Tice, the current Raiders offensive line coach who was then Vikings head coach. He worked as a systems analyst and quality control coach.
He spent time as a quality control coach on both sides of the ball before landing a job as Detroit Lions quarterbacks coach in 2011. He held that position in Detroit and Buffalo before manning that post in Oakland, where he fostered a great relationship with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. He’s well respected for his work in Oakland, with a wide base of knowledge from several different offensive schemes.
Downing will now take over as Raiders offensive coordinator, the next step in his rise up the coaching ranks. He talked about his coaching career on a Dec. 30 edition of the CSN Raiders Insider Podcast.
“It’s been an incredible experience, my journey thus far,” Downing said then. “Hopefully it continues to develop and last for a lot longer, because I love what I do. Going from an intern to bouncing around different departments and then finally cracking my way into coaching was interesting. Then going over to the defensive side of the ball and coming back to work with quarterbacks, which is where my passion is, it’s been incredible.
"I feel like I’ve developed a well-rounded sense of this game, the business of it and the scheme of it. It’s been a very unique journey, and it’s helped me get a full understanding of what it takes to be around a winning culture.”
Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.
Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.
Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.
“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”
Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.
“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”
Raiders Pro Bowl left guard Kelechi Osemele, running back Taiwan Jones and safety Brynden Trawick are currently enjoying their offseason in New Zealand.
But a few videos they posted going white-water rafting and bungee jumping left head coach Jack Del Rio a bit anxious.
"Anxiety level went up a bit thinking of my BIG pro bowl LG on the rapids!!" Del Rio tweeted Monday. "Can't leave out Brynden or Taiwan either ... have fun and be safe"
Osemele has posted a handful of photos and videos from the trip, including one of a raft capsizing with the caption: "It got real out there!!! Category 4 Rapids #NewZealand." Another showed the 6-foot-5, 333-pounder doing a backflip off a bungee platform with the caption: "Just did a backflip off the highest swing in the WORLD!!!!!!! Crazy!!! #LivingLife"