Bill Musgrave, the offensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders, is a controversial figure. Despite having the Oakland Raiders in the top ten of every offensive category, the Raider Nation is not fond of him. They claim he’s too conservative, and he’s holding Derek Carr and the Raiders offense back. Are they right? With his contract expiring, should the Raiders re-sign Bill Musgrave?
The Oakland Raiders Should Keep Bill Musgrave
Is Musgrave too conservative? Some claimed that his play-calling was too conservative, that he would almost always run on first down, usually for no yards. This isn’t completely unfounded. After all, the Raiders ran the ball on 45% of their first downs. And of those attempts, the Raiders averaged only four yards per carry.
That’s ridiculous, right? Why should the Raiders rush on so many first downs? Well actually, you’d be surprised to find out that this isn’t that uncommon. In fact, the New England Patriots actually rushed on 54% of their first downs! And of those downs, they averaged fewer yards per carry. Yes that’s correct, the Patriots rushed more for fewer yards per carry on first down than the Raiders did.
And on second down? Same game. The Raiders ran on 44% of second downs for an average of five yards a carry. Meanwhile, the Patriots also rushed on 44% of second downs, for only four yards per carry. In fact, across the board, the play-calling for the Patriots and Raiders is pretty similar. The difference has been execution, and considering that the Raiders out-rushed the Patriots by about 50 yards, it’s not on Musgrave.
The Playoff Game
Everyone buried Bill Musgrave for how he called plays in Oakland’s Wild Card loss to the Houston Texans. Frankly, that’s absurd. When you think of the circumstances Musgrave was forced into, it’s just ridiculous. Consider the reality that he had to coach a rookie third-string quarterback in his first start, behind a beat up offensive line, against the league’s number one defense, on the road, in the playoffs. That’s ridiculous.
Musgrave couldn’t get the run game going because Houston was flooding the box and Donald Penn was out, and when Connor Cook did pass it deep, it was a disaster. Carr took most of the first team snaps all year, and whatever he didn’t get, the injured trainwreck Matt McGloin did. No coach should ever have to try and fix that, and it certainly shouldn’t be held against him.
Just Win, Baby. It’s a catchphrase, it’s a motto, it’s a way of life for the Raider Nation. Of course, it’s also a bit of an annoyance. See, the Raider Nation not only wants to just win, they want to just win now, by a lot. They want Madden, and not John. So when an offensive coordinator isn’t calling plays by the seat of his pants, the fans get worried, and they have good reason.
For the longest time, the Raiders were a joke. They couldn’t move the ball, and it seemed like their biggest plays came on fluke home runs. 93-yard runs by Terrelle Pryor or freak returns from Johnnie Lee Higgins. Between 2005 and 2015, the Raiders didn’t manage a single 1,000 yard receiving season, and even with garbage time in 2012, Carson Palmer‘s numbers were unimpressive.
The Raider Nation pines for offensive genius Hue Jackson, because they believe he could do more with this offense. It wouldn’t be fair to compare the Raiders to the 1-15 Cleveland Browns, so the easiest thing to do is to put them side-by-side with Jackson’s 2011 Raiders squad.
Believe it or not, the 2011 Raiders averaged more yards per game. That’s not a joke. Back in 2011, they averaged six more yards per game than their 2016 counterparts. Of course, you could easily say they would’ve covered that if Carr had played in Week 17, but that’s not how this works.
They averaged six more yards, but the 2016 version dominates every other category. In 2016, the Raiders scored more points, committed fewer turnovers, and had significantly better time of possession. The 2016 Raiders had 100 fewer yards on offense.
The Honest Truth
At the end of the day, the honest truth is that firing your offensive coordinator because he’s not perfect is asinine. If the offense was struggling, like it did under Greg Olson, that would be one thing. But just because the Raiders aren’t scoring as often as they do when someone plays as them on Madden 17, that’s not good reason to fire a very successful coach. This is the best the Raiders have been in decades, and it’s certainly not because of their defense.
By changing coordinators, you completely change the style and language of the offense. Changing the offense sets the whole team back a couple of years. Considering that the Raiders are a young, dangerous team, you don’t want to waste any of their window. The Raiders could concievably win a Super Bowl in the next couple of years, and there’s no reason to mess with that.
The Raiders should absolutely re-sign Bill Musgrave. Don’t fix what isn’t broken, and let Musgrave be “conservative”. The Raiders have a franchise quarterback, two 1,000 yard receivers, a stable of capable backs and the league’s best offensive line. Even if Bill Musgrave isn’t the best offensive coordinator in football, he can still help this team win a Super Bowl.
Bill Musgrave's contract is up, should the Raiders re-sign him?
— LWOS Raiders (@LWOS_Raiders) January 10, 2017