The Oakland Raiders offense developed into one of the best in football in 2016, ranking sixth in yards per game at 373.3 and seventh in points at 26.0 per game.
Despite the success in 2016, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is always looking to make improvements, whether that be to the personnel or the coaching staff.
The big change he made to the coaching staff was replacing offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave with quarterbacks coach Todd Downing, who reportedly has a great relationship with Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr.
He then made some changes at the skilled positions, signing wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson away from the Minnesota Vikings and tight end Jared Cook from the Green Bay Packers.
When starting running back Latavius Murray opted to sign with the Vikings in free agency, McKenzie began his search for a new running back. He was able to get Marshawn Lynch out of retirement, and completed a trade with the Seattle Seahawks to give Lynch an opportunity to play for his hometown Raiders.
All those changes will potentially make a great Raiders offense even better in 2017. Despite the different personnel, Downing recently said that there won’t be too many changes as far as play calling in the upcoming season, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN:
“I think there’s a certain amount of, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” Downing said this week. “I think you’re always … looking for ways to tweak things and kind of adjust them to best fit your personnel and personalities. We won’t be doing wholesale changes.
“When I first got the job, we discussed that. There’s certainly going to be, every stone turned over to look for a way that we can do better.”
Like Murray, Lynch will be utilized as a power runner, particularly in goal line situations where Lynch has thrived in his career.
Having a tight end like Cook will open up the middle of the field for Carr, and potentially get more open looks for wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
Downing will also have the luxury of being able to call trick plays for a dynamic player in Patterson, further confusing defenses around the league.