ad-fullscreen

Raiders’ OC Todd Downing steadily rises up coaching ranks

Updated August 24, 2017 - 4:15 pm

ALAMEDA, Calif. — A visitor stood outside the Raiders’ locker room on Aug. 12, minutes after the team entered it following an exhibition loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The 33-year-old man waited in silence. He did not appear in a rush, patient to see an old friend.

Finally, offensive coordinator Todd Downing emerged.

Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s face lit up.

“He’s going to be a head coach someday,” Fitzgerald said afterward. “That’s what I hope for him. The guy is an unbelievable human being.”

Downing steadily has risen up the NFL ranks, having coached for five franchises since 2001. This year marks his first as a play-caller. A constant throughout his career is a knack for developing strong relationships. It’s not all about football to him, an approach that was on display last Saturday.

Jamize Olawale didn’t know it was coming.

The fullback was standing on the sideline for the pregame national anthem of the team’s second exhibition versus the Los Angeles Rams. That is when Downing placed his right hand on the back of Olawale’s jersey.

Downing did so knowing that quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end Khalil Mack were participating in the same display to promote racial solidarity.

Otherwise, it was “not planned at all,” he said.

“I kind of chuckled when talking to Jamize about it afterward,” Downing said. “I think I surprised him a little bit. I knew other guys were going to show their unity. It certainly wasn’t a protest or statement or anything like that. It’s just kind of a reaction myself to seeing what we have going on as a team. It’s such a great unity and chemistry.

“When you see guys like Derek and Khalil doing it, I look over, and there was ‘Maze,’ a guy who works his tail off for us, gets no credit from anybody … and beyond that is a great person. I just walked over and put my hand on him. It wasn’t anything more than showing he’s a guy I love.”

Downing has a close relationship with Carr.

Beginning in 2015, he spent two seasons as his position coach. They keep in touch away from the facility, be it to discuss football or matters unrelated to the sport. Rapport is important between any quarterback and coordinator. Theirs has evolved to the point where they routinely know what the other is thinking, often able to finish each other’s sentences, both have said.

Downing, 37, received his NFL start as a Minnesota Vikings assistant from 2001 to 2005.

He developed a friendship there with Fitzgerald, a fellow Minnesota native and a Vikings ballboy in 2001. He also grew close with then-head coach Mike Tice. Tice now oversees the Raiders’ offensive line, having joined Oakland’s staff shortly before Downing came aboard in 2015. Downing coached with the Detroit Lions from 2009 to 2013. Retired Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson visited the Raiders for a week during the spring as a guest of his.

The trend is clear.

This month, Fitzgerald spoke with Downing for a couple minutes. They talked golf and caught up on personal matters before wishing each other luck in the 2017 season. Downing never coached him, but Fitzgerald seems confident in what the Raiders have on the sideline.

“The thing about him is his temperament, his football IQ and his love for the players — I know him and Derek’s rapport is off the charts,” Fitzgerald said. “If you have that kind of connection with your players and that kind of rapport with your players, only good things can happen.”

More Raiders: Follow all of our Oakland Raiders-to-Las Vegas coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

section-ads_high_impact_4
Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation: 5 things to watch for when the Washington Redskins play the Raiders
Here are five things to look out for when the Redskins play the Raiders on Sunday night.
Raiders management wants family-friendly Las Vegas stadium
When the Raiders relocate to the new Las Vegas stadium in 2020, the team’s management hopes to foster a family-friendly atmosphere at games.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Injuries and Preview of Redskins Game
Bryan Salmond and Michael Gehlken talk about this Sunday's game between the Raiders and the Redskins as well as potential players that might miss Sunday nights game.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Secondary Dealing with Injuries
Bryan Salmond and Michael Gehlken discuss Derek Carr's interesting commercial as well as the health of Raiders defensive backs Gareon Conley and Sean Smith.
Vegas Nation Red Zone Week 3
Bill Bradley hosts Vegas Nation Red Zone with guest Cindy Boren to discuss the Raiders matchup this Sunday against the Washington Redskins and the questions surrounding Kirk Cousins.
Sports Betting Spotlight: NFL Week 3
Todd Dewey, Kelly Stewart (@kellyinvegas) and Caesars Oddsmaker Alan Berg go over their picks for week three of NFL football and their best bets.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Injuries and Preview of Redskins Game
Bryan Salmond and Michael Gehlken talk about this Sunday's game between the Raiders and the Redskins as well as potential players that might miss Sunday nights game.
Vegas Nation: Lynch Getting 'Hyphy' and Mexico Earthquake Impact
Michael Gehlken joins Bryan Salmond in the studio to discuss how the NFL looks at Marshawn Lynch after getting "hyphy" on the sidelines, and how the Mexico City Earthquake is going to affect the game between the Raiders and the Patriots. They also compare the stats between Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins to see how Carr stands against the Redskins quarterback.
Social Sound Off: Raiders Beat The Jets
Bryan Salmond and Kelly Stewart go over your tweets from the game where the Raiders won their second game of the season.
Construction comes to life at Raiders Stadium site in Las Vegas
Construction activity is coming to life at the Raiders Stadium site in Las Vegas. Heavy vehicles, cranes and water trucks were visible at the site at Russell Road and Dean Martin Drive, just west of Interstate 15. A formal groundbreaking for the $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium is expected in late November. Plans indicate the stadium will be 225 feet tall with 10 levels. It is also expected to gave a see-through video wall.
Mack, Joseph and Penn on the Raiders win over the Jets
Oakland Raiders' Khalil Mack, Karl Joseph and Donald Penn talk about defeating the New York Jets in their home opener, 45-20.
Carr on how Crabtree and the running game led to their win over the Jets
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr spoke to reporters during his post-game new conference about how special a player Michael Crabtree is and how effective the running game was in their 45-20 win over the New York Jets.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Improve to 2-0 with Easy Win Over Jets
Bryan Salmond, Michael Gehlken, Ron Kantowski and Gilbert Manzano break down the Raiders 45-20 win over the New York Jets, including the party-like atmosphere, Marshawn Lynch's impact on the team as well as another solid performance from the defense.
Nacion Vegas: Los Raiders Derrotan a los Jets
Los Raiders derrotan a los Jets, 45-20. Crabtree tuvo un día espectacular con tres anotaciónes. Lynch hizo una anotación debutando en su ciudad natal.
TOP NEWS
ad-315×600
News Headlines
pos-2 — ads_infeed_1
post-4 — ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like