It’s easy to forget that once upon a time, Jack Del Rio was the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars at a time when the Jaguars sported one of the most feared defensive units in the NFL. In 2005 and 2007, Del Rio led the Jaguars to playoff berths, being eliminated both years by the Patriots in the wildcard and divisional rounds respectively.
It was no surprise when, after being fired by the Jaguars, John Fox brought Del Rio to Denver as the team’s defensive coordinator. After all, Del Rio had worked with Fox in the same role in Carolina before being hired by the Jaguars.
Now, with John Fox set to miss few weeks of action, Jack Del Rio is getting at least one more shot as an NFL head coach. This time, however, he’ll be working with an elite offense. In fact, the situation could become a glorified audition for head coaching jobs around the league.
Del Rio’s current NFL mark as a head coach is just below .500 at 68-71. In his later years in Jacksonville, Del Rio had little talent to work with, and it’s surprising the team ever approached the .500 mark. With a great team, Del Rio may be able to prove his leadership abilities.
The market for defensive-minded head coaches around the league has dried up in recent years, but there’s still openings for exceptional defensive minds in the head coaching ranks. Del Rio’s name hasn’t floated around as a potential head coaching candidate recently, but a strong showing as an interim head coach could propel him in the way Bruce Arians’ run with the Colts allowed him to snag the Cardinals’ head coaching job.
The schedule actually favors Del Rio too. After playing San Diego, the Broncos will play the Chiefs, Patriots and Chiefs again. It’s possible that Del Rio could be responsible for all four of those games, and wins against such stellar competition as Kansas City and New England could push Del Rio straight back into the candidate spotlight.
The selection of Jack Del Rio as interim head coach by the Broncos is absolutely no surprise. He survived nearly a decade in Jacksonville with a largely subpar squad, even pulling out a few successful seasons in the middle of his run there. Interim jobs rarely actually translate to full-time employment, but Del Rio is working with a team that can win a few games in a row and make him look very good in the process. If the Broncos continue rolling with Del Rio at the helm, don’t be surprised if Jack Del Rio is mentioned as a potential head coaching candidate following the season.