Source: Musgrave out, Downing to be Raiders offensive coordinator

Source: Musgrave out, Downing to be Raiders offensive coordinator

Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s contract was coming to an end. It will expire and not be renewed, a league source told CSN California Tuesday afternoon.

NFL Network first reported the news earlier in the day.

Continuity, however, is still in the cards with a different offensive coordinator. The Raiders will promote quarterbacks coach Todd Downing to that spot, the same league source said.

The offense improved in two seasons under Musgrave and finished as sixth in total yards and rushing yards and seventh in points scored. Derek Carr also played well in his second season in Musgrave’s system.

John Middlekauff first reported the news on Downing.

Downing is a considered an up-and-comer in the league and a bright offensive mind. The Raiders wanted to keep him in house. Downing has a close relationship with starting quarterback Derek Carr and is well respected in the locker room, which should allow for an easy transition to a new play caller.

According to theMMQB.com, the Raiders blocked Downing from interviewing for other jobs in order to keep him around.

Del Rio was openly critical of Musgrave’s play-calling at times this season. He questioned why lead back Latavius Murray only had five carries in the regular-season finale against Denver. He also wondered aloud why the Raiders didn’t play “big boy ball” in a pivotal loss to Kansas City and talked about over-ruling a play call in that same game.

The Raiders offense didn’t play well after losing Carr to injury, as one would expect, especially using rookie Connor Cook in the playoffs against Houston. After that loss, Del Rio was asked about a possible halftime switch to Matt McGloin. He said he asked, and said coaches wanted to stay with Cook.

This is the second time Del Rio and Musgrave have parted ways. Musgrave was fired after two seasons as Jacksonville offensive coordinator (2003-04) when Del Rio was Jaguars head coach. 

There was other Raiders coaching news on Tuesday.

The Raiders plan to keep defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. in his current position, a league source told CSN California.

The NFL Network reported Tuesday morning that Norton will be retained.

The Raiders defense struggled preventing yards allowed at times, but improved as the season went along.

That unit, which needs upgrades at several spots including defensive tackle and interior linebacker, also had 30 takeaways this season and was solid on third down.

Norton is popular among the players, and has a strong backer in edge rusher and vocal leader Bruce Irvin.

Irvin voiced support for Norton on Twitter.

“The system has been proven. (It) works! I know that firsthand. Everyone must buy in!”

Overall, the Raiders finished the season ranked No. 26 in total yards allowed and 20th in points allowed.

Head coach Jack Del Rio also has a strong influence on this defensive scheme.

Also, the Sporting News reported that Raiders defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson has been fired. Robertson was Raiders secondary coach under Dennis Allen, and was retained in 2015 at Charles Woodson’s behest.

Del Rio singled out the secondary as a major reason why the Raiders allowed too many explosive plays.

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

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.”