If you look at Todd Downing’s coach resume, you can tell that he is heavily influenced by Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Those two first got connected back in Minneapolis while with the Minnesota Vikings organization. Downing would follow Linehan to St. Louis when he was the head coach of the Rams and then to Detroit when he was offensive coordinator of the Lions.
Linehan could be an NFL head coach again one day. He’s done a phenomenal job with his work in the ground game. Linehan had Steven Jackson in his prime in St. Louis and has had DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas. Look for Downing to use Marshawn Lynch in similar play designs this season.
Keep in mind that when Lynch was starring for the Seattle Seahawks that he didn’t play behind an offensive as talented as this one in Oakland. Sure, Max Unger was a great player for a few years in Seattle, but that Raiders’ offensive interior of Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson can road grade through mountains.
Don’t expect Downing to lean on Lynch as heavily as Linehan does on his bell-cow backs. Downing might be a former quarterbacks coach, but we have to expect his running game concepts will emulate Linehan’s. That’s a good thing for Lynch and the Raiders.