Raiders quarterback Derek Carr made significant strides in his second season. There were several reasons for that, from an improved receiver corps to the signal caller’s commitment and work ethic.
Carr’s production matched his immense talent in 2015 and, while he was far from perfect and should get better, there’s little doubt he is the franchise quarterback of the future.
Coaching also gets credit for that. That’s a major reason why Todd Downing was named Pro Football Focus’ quarterbacks Coach of the Year. Carr and Downing built an excellent rapport based on similar personalities and a real commitment to getting the details right.
Downing helped Carr mesh well into offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s scheme. Musgrave was a quarterback and a solid quarterbacks coach in his own right, helping creative a productive brain trust that had the offensive going strong until a lull hit at season’s end.
Here’s what PFF had to say about Downing’s effort this season:
“While people saw talent in rookie QB Derek Carr, he was still our 38th of 39 ranked quarterback in 2014. His deep and underneath game was significantly flawed, and his ability to read blitzes remained poor. That completely changed in 2015, turning into a borderline top-10 signal caller whose deep game has improved out of all recognition, with a penchant for taking on extra rushers—his QB rating when blitzed is now 108.7. Downing deserves credit for his part in turning Carr from a borderline case to a franchise-worthy player.”
Offensive line coach Mice Tice was first runner-up at his position, for helping a relatively new unit bond together well. PFF ranked the Raiders line No. 6 overall, paced largely by excellent pass protection.
Raiders defensive line coach Jethro Franklin is a glaring omission from this list. Franklin helped get star Khalil Mack to the quarterback more often, allowed rookie Mario Edwards Jr. to make an immediate impact, helped Denico Autry flourish and kept the pass rush going strong despite the loss of Justin Tuck and Aldon Smith during the year.