Jack Del Rio recently assumed the role of interim head coach for the Denver Broncos, being promoted from his regular role as the team’s defensive coordinator in incumbent head coach John Fox’s absence.
Fox will need some time away from the game to recover after having a valve in his heart replaced, with Jay Glazer of Fox Sports estimating he will miss four-to-six weeks.
Del Rio will be in charge during that span and his presence should not hinder the team’s winning ways.
He has the proper experience, as he spent nine years as the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach—from 2003 until he was fired after 11 games in 2011—before accepting the defensive coordinator position in Denver. During that time, Del Rio went 73-63 with two playoff appearances.
While Del Rio’s Jags never advanced past the divisional round, he did oversee a handful of dynamic offenses and tough defenses during the regular season through the years.
According to Football Outsiders, his 2006 defensive unit was ranked fourth in the NFL in both points per drive allowed and yards per drive allowed, while the 2007 Jags caught fire offensively and finished third in both points per drive and yards per drive.
The 50-year-old clearly has what it takes to guide this team over the next couple games, especially with the amount of talent the Broncos feature on both sides of the ball.
Peyton Manning is in the midst of one of his finest seasons yet. The 37-year-old signal-caller should be sharp coming off a bye week, as it allowed him a chance to rest his bumps, bruises and—most importantly—his two sprained ankles.
Manning is practically a coach in his own right, having the ability to change plays at will when he is at the line. The four-time MVP will keep the offense humming and it shouldn’t skip a beat, regardless of who is calling the shots on the sideline.
How many games will the Broncos win out of their next four?
Denver should also continue improving defensively. The team recently returned superstar linebacker Von Miller to the lineup, a significant piece that is already making a big impact.
After a 7-1 start to 2013, it’s hard to see the Broncos falling off at this stage. Their next four matchups are against the San Diego Chargers, two meetings with the currently undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots.
That is a tough schedule, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Del Rio lead them through unscathed. He has everything in place to succeed as the interim head coach and it would be downright shocking if the team fell apart around him.