Jack Del Rio is now the Broncos' interim head coach/defensive coordinator.
The Broncos announced the move Monday morning with Head Coach John Fox expected to miss several weeks as he recovers from an aortic heart valve replacement.
Del Rio will continue his role as the team's defensive coordinator.
Fox will have a procedure on his aortic valve on Tuesday, Nov. 5, and he will miss about one month to six weeks, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer.
ESPN's Adam Schefter first broke the news:
Broncos named Jack Del Rio interim HC.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 4, 2013
John Elway told Gray Caldwell of DenverBroncos.com that he is confident in Del Rio's ability to lead the team in Fox's absence:
Elway on naming Del Rio interim head coach/defensive coordinator: "I feel great about Jack. John (Fox) was on board, also."— Gray Caldwell (@GrayCaldwell) November 4, 2013
Del Rio spoke of his coaching philosophy in Fox's absence (via Jeff Legwold of of ESPN):
Jack Del Rio on #Broncos' approach in Fox's absence: We’re on a mission, we’re on a mission ... to continue what Coach Fox has going.''— Jeff Legwold (@Jeff_Legwold) November 4, 2013
Fox was understandably disappointed, but he told Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today that he needed to address his pre-existing condition:
Although I am disappointed I must take some time away from the team to attend to this pre-existing health condition, I understand that it's the right thing to do. I have great confidence in our coaches and players, who are fully committed to our goals. I look forward to returning to coaching as soon as possible.
The 7-1 Broncos are in second place in the AFC West and will take on the Chargers in Week 10 after their Week 9 bye. They have two crucial games coming up against the 9-0 Chiefs as well.
It won't be easy for Del Rio to take over in the middle of the season, but the personnel surrounding him should make the transition a bit easier.
Quarterback Peyton Manning is at the top of his game and eyeing a fifth NFL MVP Award in 2013. The team's much-maligned defense is steadily improving with the recent return of star linebacker Von Miller.
Fox, 58, is in his third season at the helm of the Denver organization. Prior to joining the club, he spent nine years as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Fox holds a 28-12 record in the Mile High City and is 101-83 during his tenure in the NFL.
Del Rio, 50, coached the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-2011, and he has been the Broncos defensive coordinator since 2012. His record as a head coach is 68-71.