Commanders: Jack Del Rio
While Jack Del Rio was only a member of the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff for three seasons, he made his mark during that time. As defensive coordinator, his team finished inside the top-5 two of his three seasons in Denver.
During the 2014 offseason, Del Rio’s defense welcomed free agent cornerback Aqib Talib, safety T.J. Ward, and outside linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware. The trio of free agent signings, alongside wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, was one of the best free agency hauls in NFL history.
Also during Del Rio’s time with the Broncos, he served as an interim head coach for John Fox, who happened to need aortic valve replacement surgery. He was the choice due to his previous experience as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Bears: DeMarcus Walker, Tyke Tolbert
DeMarcus Walker was unfortunately used wrong during his rookie season: the team initially had him as an outside linebacker, but future proof essentially showed that he would be much better as a defensive end. Walker had two sacks—one each—in his first two NFL seasons. Since then, he has had three four-plus sacks seasons, including last year with the Tennessee Titans, when he had seven.
It would have been so interesting to see how Walker would have done with the Broncos had he been used properly right off the bat. Maybe he would still be a Bronco.
Tyke Tolbert coached the Broncos’ receivers from 2011-2017. During that time, he got to coach guys like Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Eric Decker. The beauty of this timeline is that the Broncos had Peyton Manning for most of these years. That’s definitely not taking away from the talent at the wide receiver position; it just made things a lot easier for the wideouts.
At the end of the day, the NFL is a team sport and you need the right players and coaches on the team and the pairing of Manning with his wide receivers and Tolbert was a perfect match.