The Minnesota Vikings are going to be going up against a familiar opponent this weekend when they head out to Oakland to play the Raiders. Bill Musgrave was the Vikings’ offensive coordinator from 2011-13 and is now the offensive coordinator for the Raiders.
Musgrave and Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio have been friends for a while as they worked with each other in Jacksonville, so Del Rio knew he wanted the offensive coordinator once he got hired in the offseason.
“(Bill)’s had a wealth of experience, including his time there in Minnesota,” Del Rio said. “It was a perfect fit for us. He’s got exposure to all the things that we wanted to be about offensively with the power running game, with some of the spread and space and tempo concepts that are now a part of our league. And he’s always been good with the quarterbacks, so it’s been a good fit for us.”
When Musgrave worked in Minnesota he had the luxury of having Adrian Peterson in the backfield, especially the 2012 season when Peterson was named the NFL MVP after rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. So it would make sense that he has experience working with the power running game.
Apart from that, though, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer does not see too many things familiar with what Musgrave is doing in Oakland to what he did in Minnesota.
“It’s different,” Zimmer said. “I think he’s done a great job of working within his personnel there and the things they’re doing now.”
The Vikings head coach believes Musgrave has been doing a good job working with second-year quarterback Derek Carr and integrating newly acquired wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Not only that, but he has also done a good job at keeping defenses off balance with a multitude of plays in order to avoid sacks.
“They’re protecting well, they’re doing a good job protecting, but they also get the ball out,” Zimmer said. “A lot of times they go with no backs in the backfield, throw the ball quickly, they’ll take their shots down the field, they give you a lot of different things – motions, movements, the zone read plays – it’s a heavy mixture of things that if defenses aren’t careful they can confuse you. Crabtree’s a good receiver and Cooper, I think, is going to be exceptional, so I think he’s doing a great job with them and I think he’s doing a great job with Carr.”
Musgrave is not the only member of Del Rio’s coaching staff with ties to Minnesota, though. Del Rio played linebacker for the Vikings from 1992-95 before hanging up his cleats. His offensive line coach, Mike Tice, also spent time with the Vikings as both a player and a coach.
He was a tight end for the Vikings from 1992-93 and in 1995, then came back to the organization as a tight ends coach in 1996 and slowly worked his was up the coaching ladder until he was named head coach, a position he held from 2002-05.
Del Rio knew Tice from playing together in Minnesota and has always seemed to bring him along wherever he was coaching. But Del Rio said he hires Tice for more reasons than just their friendship.
“Mike’s a good friend, but he’s a great coach,” Del Rio said. “I thought he did a great job there in Minnesota. I think the results speak for themselves. When you look at his offensive lines over the years they’ve always been productive groups. He does an excellent job teaching and motivating his guys.”
Things may not have worked out for these coaches while they were in Minnesota, as the Vikings eventually parted ways with them, but they seem to have the 4-4 Raiders moving in the right direction.