Bill Musgrave Brings Years of Experience with QB’s to Raiders OC Position
Jul 26, 2013; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (right) talks with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave (left) during training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Musgrave inherited a lousy QB situation in Minnesota, but a really great running back in Adrian Peterson. The Vikings had drafted quarterback Christian Ponder 12th overall in 2011, and management pushed for him to see the field quickly. After the team started 1-5 under a 35-year-old Donovan McNabb, Ponder was named starter and threw 13 TD’s and 13 picks in 10 starts. Peterson, meanwhile, injured himself severely late in the year.
Despite all this, Musgrave managed to put together the league’s 18th-ranked offense that year, behind a rushing game that finished fourth in the league. In 2012, Peterson was back healthy and Christian Ponder actually improved, and the Vikings went 10-6 as Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards on a surgically repaired knee. Ponder, while not eye-popping, was decent, completing over 62% of his passes and throwing 18 TD’s.
In 2013, Matt Cassell was brought in to push the younger Ponder, and push he did. Ponder started nine games that year and Cassell six, and neither was particularly impressive. The two combined to throw 18 TD’s and 18 INT’s. Peterson was unable to replicate his near-record setting comeback season in 2012, and finished the year with 1,266 yards as the Vikings finished 5-10-1. Leslie Frazier was fired, along with Musgrave and the rest of the staff.
Musgrave has most recently been the quarterbacks coach of the Eagles under Chip Kelly and Pat Shurmur. Nick Foles, who was stellar in 2013, took a step back in 2014 before being injured halfway through the season. Mark Sanchez, in his first NFL action since the infamous “butt-fumble” season, put together a solid half of a season under Musgrave, finishing the year with the highest passer rating and QBR in his career.
It’s unclear why Del Rio and the Raiders front office chose to go with Musgrave over Trestman. Trestman obviously has much more experience, some head coaching background, and is known as a guru of the West Coast offense. Del Rio does have history with Musgrave, but he also fired Musgrave after two years. Musgrave may be a more attractive candidate because he has never been seen as head coaching material and may be retained longer than a high-visibility coordinator like Trestman. He has a solid track record with young quarterbacks as well as veteran quarterbacks, and the organization may like how his style fits the young Derek Carr.
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Del Rio may also prefer Musgrave’s more well-rounded offensive philosophies. In Jacksonville (with Del Rio) and in Minnesota, Musgrave favored the run game, and his offenses were near the top of the league in rushing attempts per game. Obviously both situations involved teams with mediocre young quarterbacks (Ponder, Leftwich), but Del Rio might want to emphasize the run in Oakland in order to allow Derek Carr to develop without the pressure of the entire offense landing on his shoulders. Del Rio’s hire of Mike Tice – a noted run-blocking guru – would indicate that the offensive plan is to run the ball while Carr grows at the QB position.
Musgrave’s recent experience developing a young passer is another strength, while Trestman has not had a chance to develop a young passer in the NFL since his time working with Jake Plummer in Arizona.
It may also be that Trestman wants to move on to another job, perhaps in Cleveland, and Musgrave was the next best thing. If that is the case, there’s a possibility that the Raiders retain QB’s coach John DeFilippo, and keep some continuity for Carr. While the hire may not be as exciting or impressive as hiring Trestman, it’s a solid hire and Del Rio has shown that he knows how to put together a coaching staff.