With several NFL teams in the market for a new head coach, the carousel is spinning in full effect. An experienced coach, like Denver Broncos defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio, is naturally going to garner some interest in the market.
The fervor becomes even more compounded by the success that the Broncos have had as a team, over the last several years. In Del Rio's three full seasons as the Broncos DC, he has produced two top-5 defenses and seven Pro Bowlers, including Champ Bailey, Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, Jr.
And when you factor in Del Rio's nine years as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, whom he led to the playoffs twice, he becomes a very natural target for head coach-needy NFL teams.
But with the Broncos on a playoff bye, fruits purchased by laboring to secure the No. 2 seed in the AFC, does it become a distraction to have both of their coordinators (Adam Gase has three HC interviews scheduled for this weekend) focusing their attention outside of Dove Valley? John Fox minimized the notion today.
“I don’t see how," Fox said via the team. "We’re not even in the building together. I get that everybody is entitled to opinions.”
“As I mentioned the other day, with team success comes opportunities for individuals and the way it sets up," Fox continued, "especially with a bye, you earn that bye and with that we’ll have a few days off and that includes the coaches. So what guys do with that in their spare time obviously it’s an opportunity for a guy to explore those opportunities.”
Fox is referring to the down-time that both the players and coaches enjoy during this week of rest. Nevertheless, the media scrutiny confuses the narrative, shifting it away from the Broncos playoff aspirations, to the outside NFL world at large.
However, Del Rio is all business. If he's interested in outside opportunities, he's not showing his hand now.
“I’m here to talk about Broncos stuff," Del Rio said Tuesday, "anything to do with our run here and the fact that we’re in the postseason. I really don’t want to get into speculation on anything that may occur with me going forward. Obviously, there is a time period that’s set forth, and those guidelines will be followed. I’d really rather it be about the Broncos and my job here. This is a great organization. We’ve got a real good football team. I’d prefer to answer questions on the Broncos and the playoffs and some of the guys and the performances they’ve had. [CB] Chris Harris Jr. being the Ed Block [Courage Award] winner today, things like that should get the story. There will be another time and place for us to talk about other things regarding me and any other opportunities. I’d rather focus on the here and now.”
Del Rio's words come as music to the ears of Broncos fans concerned that the team might repeat the failures 2012, when Mike McCoy was heavily courted and eventually signed on to become the next head coach of the San Diego Chargers, and the Broncos subsequently went one-and-done, dropping a home Divisional Playoff game to the Baltimore Ravens, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
Del Rio and company are already focused on the near future, game-planning for whichever team they end up hosting on January 11th.
“We did a little review on us over the last couple of weeks and we got into a little bit of the three various opponents that we could see in the next round," Del Rio said. "Spent a little bit of work on that. Beyond that, healing up some guys and working on the basic fundamentals. We tackled both days even though we’re in shorts. We were working on the fundamentals of tackling, leveraging, things that—some of the fundamentals that we’ve been good at that have given us a chance to be good on defense.”
At this stage of the season, a little self-scouting could go a long way towards fortifying the Broncos chances in the Divisional Round next weekend. For now, Jack Del Rio is the defensive coordinator for a team knee-deep in the midst of what they hope to be a fruitful Super Bowl run.