Of all of the complaints from fans concerning former offensive coordinator Greg Olson, perhaps the biggest one was the lack of using young prospect Latavius Murray in the gameplan until the second half of the 2014 season. Coming off of an injured reserve stint during his rookie season, Murray was placed in the third string role for much of the year, only getting significant carries after dominating the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football.
Following that 100+ yard, two touchdown performance the Raiders did incorporate Murray as the feature back in lieu of using Maurice Jones-Drew who saw his snap count diminish. The Raiders still gave a good number of carries to Darren McFadden, but a clear direction was forged in the final games of the season in that Murray will be a player to watch in 2015 as an emerging star for the future.
Those sentiments were echoed this week by the Raiders new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who just happens to be well documented for his love of utilizing running backs from his stints calling plenty of running plays for Fred Taylor and Adrian Peterson. Talking to Oakland media via conference call, Musgrave had nothing but positive comments regarding the young rushing weapon at his disposal.
“I have a very positive impression,” Musgrave said Tuesday according to CSN Bay Area’s Scott Bair. “He has tremendous size and speed. He had a super career (at Central Florida).
“I’m looking forward to getting on the field and finding out what he’s all about and what his strengths are so we can tailor our run game so it’s right up his alley.”
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The news of Musgrave being impressed with Murray should entice Raiders fans who have had a mixed reaction regarding the hiring of the former Vikings offensive coordinator who has ties with Jack Del Rio from a stint in Jacksonville. Fred Taylor’s success with the Jaguars likely a model that Raiders fans will hope follows with the young Murray as it is hard to assume that Musgrave will be able to replicate Adrian Peterson’s successes, but the two 1,000 plus yard seasons Taylor had with Musgrave are probably benchmarks for Murray’s 2015 season.
If Musgrave can find a way to balance his rush heavy success in Jacksonville and Minnesota with the offensive principles he may have picked up working with Chip Kelly as the Eagles quarterbacks coach in 2014 there is a good chance the hiring by Jack Del Rio pans out to be better than cynics are expecting. Add in a prospect at quarterback who is arguably the best talent Musgrave has had to work with and there are already tools in place for success to happen in Oakland. After the free agency and the draft the picture will be clearer, but for now Musgrave is content coming to Oakland where he feels he has a running back he can us effectively in place in the young Murray.