Todd Downing has heard the criticism, how he took an explosive offense that was ranked No. 6 overall last season and turned it into a dud at No. 30 through six weeks this year.
But it is not going to change how the Oakland Raiders’ first-year offensive coordinator approaches his job, not even if there are calls for him to use Marshawn Lynch more in a game.
“Oh yeah, I have friends that have him on their fantasy team that are mad at me for that,” Downing said with an uneasy laugh Tuesday. “That’s part of the business. That’s something that, I never want to say that you welcome criticism, but I welcome the responsibility that this job has afforded me.
“I understand that I’m going to have to deal with negative comments and consequences when things aren’t going well. I’m looking forward to standing up here in a more positive fashion sometime soon.”
Downing, who was promoted from quarterbacks coach to replace Bill Musgrave this offseason, is owning it.
He is also wearing it as the Raiders (2-4) try to end their four-game losing streak Thursday on national television (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS) against the Kansas City Chiefs (5-1).
Because after a strong start in which Oakland beat the Tennessee Titans 26-16 and New York Jets 45-20, the Raiders have scored a combined 53 points in this four-game skid.
“We’re all human, so obviously we all are frustrated,” said Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. “We have great practices. We’re so efficient. We’re doing things the right way. We’re studying. We’re doing these things and then we go out there and we don’t have the game we want to have. That can wear on you, or you can just keep working. I think you guys know me well enough that you know which one I pick.
“You guys know that [Downing] and I are really alike and he’s the same way. ‘Hey, I didn’t do this right, I didn’t do that right. This is what I’m going to do better for you.’ And then I’m telling him, ‘Hey, I didn’t do this right. I’m going to be better for you.’ We just work, and that’s the cool thing about this team and the family that coach [Jack] Del Rio has built around here is we’re all accountable.”
Part of the Raiders’ issues of late is they have become so predictable on offense because they are not getting deep enough into their play sheet.
Play-action, which the addition of Lynch should have made a commodity? The Raiders have run it on an NFL-low 12 dropbacks thus far, according to Pro Football Focus.
And this: Oakland is averaging a league-worst 54.3 offensive plays per game as it is the only team below an average of 60. The Denver Broncos are at the top with 68.8.
“We’ve unfortunately had a low play count over the last four weeks when we’ve been struggling,” Downing said. “The first couple of weeks we had a higher play count and did well. So, we just need to get back to being able to sustain drives and keep the ball moving.”
The Raiders are averaging 278.3 yards of offense; the Chiefs average 387.0, second in the NFL.
“When you look at the tape, you can see that we’re so close on so many things,” Downing said. “I know that sounds cliché and I know that sounds like someone sitting up here … [with] rose-colored glasses, but it’s the truth. We know that we’re just this close to making a couple more plays each game and being able to come out on top and feeling like we put together a good product.”