As far as needing an interim head coach in the middle of a season, it doesn’t get much better than having Jack Del Rio in your back pocket.
Del Rio has been a head coach in the NFL, the coach of a very tough Jaguars team, and his time came to a sour end with the Jags before he was hired as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. Not unlike Wade Phillips and Josh McDaniels, and many other former head coaches around the league, it’s simply a season where Jack Del Rio was probably just better suited for a coordinator role, where he could focus entirely on one subject and make it excellent, rather than doing a lot of damage control.
Well, the Broncos were pretty much a perfect situation for him to fall into. Denver was a top defensive unit last season with Del Rio at the helm, and having him back for another year has brought a lot of much needed continuity.
Though injuries have offered mixed results, the Broncos appear to be trending upward defensively after their most dominant performance of the season against the Washington Redskins, a performance not reflected in the final score.
If the Broncos’ defense can continue on the trajectory set in place during the bye week (they are getting healthy, too) I think a second half run could be some sight to see. We have yet to see a true complete performance by the Broncos this season, one that is mistake free in all three phases of the game. We may never see that, but if we do, I hope it’s in the playoffs.
With the defense finally starting to show signs of the way they played at times last year, it was a bit of a concern to make Jack Del Rio the interim head coach because you really didn’t want to see him pulled from his coordinator duties for the defense. The Broncos made it clear that Del Rio would be the Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, and Del Rio confirmed himself to the Denver media that he was only going to be involved in the offense “very little.”
That’s a good thing, not because I think Del Rio doesn’t know anything about offense, but the Broncos are a well-oiled machine offensively and maybe aside from making some more aggressive calls early in games, I think they’ll be just fine.
Where Del Rio will make the most significant change is in his role as the decision maker for challenges and going for it on fourth down.
I don’t know how conservative Del Rio is or what his history is as far as that goes, but it will be interesting to see if he differs significantly from how coach Fox would operate.
Del Rio has apparently already made some changes to Broncos’ practices, including some gameday situations he wants to have covered.
“Jack’s a good leader,” said Broncos QB Peyton Manning, “he added a couple of situations to practice that he thinks we need to focus on & emphasize.”
The Broncos will play their first game of the Jack Del Rio era against San Diego this Sunday on the road, a place where last season they were down 24-0 at halftime and orchestrated one of the most historic and memorable comebacks not only in Broncos history but probably NFL history.
The Chargers are playing better than their record indicates, losing some close tough games. However, this is a game the Broncos are expected to win, so we will soon learn whether or not the bye week was good to them or if they will come out with some rust.