New Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio made his first big hire on Monday evening, tabbing Bill Musgrave to be his offensive coordinator.
It was an important decision, considering the team believes it has a potential franchise quarterback in Derek Carr who needs to be developed. While Del Rio said he will be active in all phases, Musgrave will be largely in charge off an offense featuring Carr, big horses up front, a young talent in rushing back Latavius Murray and a largely unspectacular receiver corps.
This will be Musgrave’s second stint working with Del Rio. He was offensive coordinator in Jacksonville during Del Rio’s first two years as Jaguars head coach.
He was fired following the 2004 season, when the Jaguars ranked No. 21 in total yards and No. 29 in scoring.
He has a reputation as a run-heavy, at-times conservative play caller during stints as offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers (2000), Jaguars (2003-04) and Minnesota Vikings (2011-13).
He has received praise for his work with quarterbacks, especially in his development of passer Matt Ryan during a stint as Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach from 2006-10.
He was also Minnesota’s offensive coordinator in 2012, when Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns.
That could mean good things for Carr and Murray if Musgrave can foster young these young skill players. That’s certainly the Del Rio’s hope.
“That’s what we talked about when we talked about getting these lists of assistant coaches together,” Del Rio said on Friday in an introductory press conference, before the Musgrave hire was made. “When you surround yourself with a great staff, and that’s what we talked about thoroughly, that’s going to help. And also the players that you continue to bring in – playmakers on the outside, protection, the defense, the run game, all of that. We talked about every aspect to try to help surround Derek with whatever we have to improve and win.”
The Raiders were heavily linked to former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman, with reports stating they were expected to interview him for a job that eventually went to Musgrave. Trestman had options. He was linked to several jobs, including the opening in Cleveland. The Baltimore Ravens also need an offensive coordinator with Gary Kubiak hired as Denver Broncos head coach.
The focus of the Musgrave hire will center on Carr. Last year’s second-round pick developed well under coordinator Greg Olson and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, but has significant work remaining to realize his potential.
The Raiders were incredibly reliant on Carr for offense last season, and Del Rio hopes to add pieces that can help lighten his load. A running game would certainly help that, as would solid coaching hires.
“There’s good leadership in place that I believe I can work with – that we can build this team, that we can help the running game be strong, the defense be strong and Derek Carr be developed, and so it’s not all about him doing it all by himself,” Del Rio said on Friday. “As an organization, we have a lot to do, but we understand where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. Part of that is making sure that a good, young talent like Derek is not asked to do too much, that he does have a great support system around him.”