After an unsuccessful job as the Raiders attack coordinator in 2017, Todd Downing has a stellar team at his disposal as they try to fill the void left by Arthur Smith on the Tennessee Titans.
“Choose Your Poison” will be a message from Titans new man Julio Jones after being plugged into an almost finished Tennessee puzzle. But who will be the main collector of poisons?
At The Jones, he has a defensive seven-time pro bowler, two-time receiving yards leader, two-time first-team all-pro, exemplary virtuoso, and a consistent top three; in Derrick Henry – Fighting Bull, tackling slugger whose backfield spurt was two consecutive Pro Bowl picks, two consecutive Rushing Yard titles, two consecutive Rushing Touchdown titles and a 2,000 yard spot ; AJ Brown is the number one waiting receiver, and Ryan Tannehill is a resurgent top 10 quarterback. Additional side dishes are also served with the main course.
The Jones trade likely had ulterior motives other than an astute admission of a possible championship window: namely, Downing’s proposal for a host siren whose presence is ingrained in defensive plans for the game that will only serve to benefit his new teammates. In particular, Brown, who worked hard to have his idol join him as a double denier team at Nissan Stadium.
Downing lived with 11 men 70 percent of the time as coordinator of the 2017 Oakland Raiders offensive, and while his options mean it might prove right again, he might well hope that the similarities end there.
The images of the attacking wizard following the Week One victory over the Titans by the end of the 2017 season turned into Downing, whom David Carr, brother of Raiders quarterback Derek, called Downing “overhead.” For a number of reasons, this was all a bit dull in an equally dull period for the Raiders franchise, which rolled to a 6-10 finish in the season after ending a 13-year playoff drought with a 12-4 record in 2016.
Eyebrows rose when head coach Jack Del Rio cut ties with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave following a Wild Card defeat to Houston Texans, especially given his role alongside Downing in helping Carr host two Pro Bowl seasons.
Downing was subsequently named Musgrave’s replacement in the promotion from the quarterback coach, a role he had previously served with the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills.
The result was a terrible slump in attack. The Raiders fell from 6th overall in 2016 to 18th at Downing, going from 13th to 16th, 6th to 25th, and 7th to 23rd.
They lacked gimmicks, deception and unpredictability with moving parts, pre-tethered and camouflaged by the concepts of others, Carr’s effectiveness took a hit when he cured minor back problems all over the place, Amary Cooper’s wide receiver fell off a cliff the aging Marshon Lynch is underutilized and what was the highest paid attacking line in the NFL at the time struggled to play that way. Add to the above that the defense was unable to fix the interception in the first 10 games of the season, and the Raiders did not move in all respects.