Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing
Excited? You bet. Surprised though? Not so much.
After two seasons as the Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach where he helped turn Derek Carr into a legitimate MVP candidate, Todd Downing was a hot commodity among NFL teams following the team's postseason loss to the Houston Texans this January.
Word of the interest that Downing was drawing around the league reached Head Coach Jack Del Rio, who decided that he wanted to ensure that Eden Prairie, Minn.-native stuck around in Silver and Black, eventually naming him the team's offensive coordinator.
"I wouldn't characterize it as a surprise because I'm ready for anything that comes my way in this profession, but I was looking forward to the opportunity to run an offense somewhere in the NFL in 2017," said Downing. "I just feel really fortunate that Coach Del Rio has the trust in me, moving forward, to have that opportunity be here.
"I just felt extremely blessed to be in that position that somebody would want me to run their offense; I feel very ready to do it, and I was looking forward to the opportunity," Downing continued. "When it came up here, it just makes it exponentially better to me. It's a great organization, wonderful head coach, and it just feels great to have the organization, and him, have trust in me leading this group going forward."
As Downing and his offensive staff prepare for 2017, the first-time coordinator will find himself in a new reality; not only will be charged with overseeing Derek Carr and the team's quarterbacks, he'll be tasked with making sure the entire Raiders offense is primed and ready to go come game day.
That being said, he'll have the benefit of being surrounded by a strong staff, and rely on their expertise, as they guide the Silver and Black going forward.
"Something Coach Del Rio talks about is the strength of the staff, and I believe that trickles down, Downing explained. "I'm really fortunate to inherit a staff of very capable, knowledgeable, experienced coaches that are very good at what they do. Beyond that, I have great relationships with each and every one of them, so for me, walking in as their boss now, really doesn't feel any different than when I walked in as their peer, just from an interaction standpoint. It's nice to be able to rely on those relationships, and know that I'm going to get truthful feedback, and that I'm going to get their best effort every day, and that makes it easier for me to feel like everything is under control."
An exclusive look back at Todd Downing during the 2016 season.
The Raiders boasted one of the best offenses in the NFL last season, and Downing has no interest in reinventing the wheel when it comes to the unit in 2017, instead, saying that any amendments to the offense would be "very subtle."
To that point though, it's no secret that the Raiders were at their most dynamic when the team was balanced in its offensive attack, and going forward, the Raiders new offensive coordinator will be looking to find that balance more consistently, particularly as far as the run game is concerned.
"We did a great job of putting together run game plans all last year," Downing said. "One of the strengths of our staff is that we have a lot of talented run game minds, led by Mike Tice. I anticipate those run game plans being as dynamic as they were last year, and I anticipate leaning on the run game as we did last year, and certainly situationally.
"I think we will be balanced," he continued. "That's not just a catch phrase. I intend for that to be something that we maintain, is that balance of run and pass. I think we will be explosive, a team that attacks defenses vertically, and I think we'll do a nice job of setting up matchups so that we can get guys in the best position to do their job as possible."