Back in January of 2017, the Raiders said goodbye to Bill Musgrave as offensive coordinator and promoted Todd Downing from quarterbacks coach to fill his position.
At the time, Derek Carr was coming off a breakthrough season – one in which he turned into an MVP candidate – and the team hoped Downing’s promotion would even further accelerate Carr’s growth as a quarterback.
“Great move,” reported George Takata, a former sports director of a CBS affiliate in Fresno (and friend of the Carr family), at the time of the announcement. “Keeps continuity in coaching staff, Derek Carr loves him.”
It was Carr’s good relationship with Downing – and some feeling that Musgrave had somehow limited Carr with conservative play calling – that led some to believe Carr would have a brilliant season in 2017.
Instead, Carr took a step back and Downing was ousted along with head coach Jack Del Rio after a 6-10 season.
Now it appears Carr may be back on track under new head coach Jon Gruden, who is reported to be more demanding of Carr this offseason, along with offensive coordinator Greg Olson and QBs coach Brian Callahan, reports Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback. Wrote Breer: “It’s already apparent that Carr is going to be coached hard in 2018.”
The good thing is, Carr is happy with that. Breer says sources say Carr “has identified with Gruden’s passion for football and is enthusiastic about the pushing and prodding he’s gotten from his new coaches.” Breer says Carr may have been too comfortable with Downing, stunting his growth.
Breer reports, too, that Gruden is excited about the team’s prospects in 2018, because it’s the first time he’s had a young, potentially elite quarterback as a head coach.
Adds Breer: “All this sets up for a pretty fascinating year in Oakland. A year ago, Carr was seen as having a chance to ascend into the league’s upper echelon at his position and was being positioned by the organization as the face of the franchise. Now he’s working his way back after a difficult 2017, and Gruden has wrested the spotlight from him, all of which could help him rebound.”
Carr certainly seems energized. Just last week he posted a photo of himself on Instagram with teammates in an offseason workout with the message: “Another week in the books! One step closer! Blessed!!!”
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Source: NBC Bay Area