Derek Carr didn't get to finish out his MVP-caliber season after snapping his leg. Yet the quarterback's drastic improvement the past two seasons led to an offseason change at coordinator.
With Todd Downing's work as QB coach earning him buzz around the league, coach Jack Del Rio declined to bring back Bill Musgrave -- whose contract was expiring -- and instead elevated Downing to offensive coordinator.
The 36-year-old coordinator takes over an offense that ranked No. 6 in total offense and No. 7 in scoring offense in 2016. Downing noted he wouldn't make changes to the offense "just for change's sake."
"Oh, it will be very subtle," Downing said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday, via ESPN. "We're going to keep the same system terminology. There's no reason to change any of that stuff. All we're doing right now is finding the ways that we can all individually do our jobs better, prepare our positions better, and how we can just quarter-turn a couple things to make the offense as efficient as possible."
The intimate relationship between Downing and Carr inevitably leads to discussions about how elevating the QB coach to OC will give the quarterback more power. Downing downplayed the line of scrimmage duties Carr will obtain while noting that the franchise quarterback will have a stronger voice in building the game plan.
"There's been a lot made about his command at the line of scrimmage. There's certainly going to be opportunities for Derek to do that," Downing said. "... Where I see him needing a little bit more command is just being able to share his thoughts of game plans. Being a student of the game, as he already is, but vocalize what he likes and doesn't like. I think my relationship with him is something that's going to give him the opportunity to voice his opinions. I look forward to him really taking charge of expressing his thoughts on the offense."
As we saw with league MVP Matt Ryan and countless others over NFL history, when a quarterback gets a bigger say in the game plan -- noting plays he has confidence in or believes will work against a defense -- his career can blossom and his play is taken to the next level. Giving Carr a bigger say is one reason Downing is now in charge of the Raiders' offense.