Oakland Raiders Should Consider Jack Del Rio for Defensive Coordinator in 2012
The NFL received some not-so-shocking news as the Jacksonville Jaguars fired head coach Jack Del Rio. Del Rio has been on the hot seat for the past few seasons and on Tuesday, the seat got red hot.
There have been reports that Del Rio "lost his drive" towards the end of his coaching tenure in Jacksonville. That's not what any potential employer wants to hear, so I hope Del Rio can shake those reports. Now the question is, where does Del Rio go from here?
There has been some quick Internet buzz about Del Rio suggesting that he should be considered for the UCLA head coaching vacancy, as they recently let go of their head coach. Del Rio is a California guy—he grew up in the state and spent his college years at UCLA's rival, USC.
I do think Del Rio should return to the West Coast, but he may still have a future in the NFL—as a defensive coordinator, not a head coach.
I am a firm believer that some coaches are only meant to be coordinators. Coaches like Wade Phillips, Mike Nolan, Josh McDaniels and many others received head coaching positions due to their reputations as coordinators, but did not fare well.
Del Rio's head coaching job with Jacksonville lasted almost a decade. I think it would be a mistake if he jumps right back into the pressures of being a head coach at the college or NFL level.
Let's take a quick look at Del Rio's resume before his head coaching days.
Would Jack Del Rio be an upgrade over Chuck Bresnahan?
In 1999, Del Rio became the linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens and was given a lot of credit, alongside Marvin Lewis, for the infamous 2000 Ravens defense. Obviously, it is easy to take credit when you have players like Ray Lewis and Tony Siragusa, but production is production.
Just as coordinators can create buzz and turn into head coaches, position coaches can do the same and become coordinators. In 2002, Del Rio became Carolina's defensive coordinator and the Panthers had the second-ranked defense in the NFL.
After that one year, Del Rio became the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Del Rio had some productive years in Jacksonville—and even some playoff appearances. But he never gets enough credit for how well his defenses have performed.
The Jaguar defenses have always been tough and well-coached. They may not always rank in the Top Ten, but they're always well disciplined.
In 2011, the Jaguars defense ranks fourth overall—fourth against the pass and 14th against the run. If you were to combine that defense with the current Raiders offense, Oakland might be 9-2.
Unless his name is Rex Ryan, a defensive-minded head coach will never get enough credit when his defense does well—but will always get the blame when the defense struggles.
Some may be cautious that Del Rio has only had one year as a true defensive coordinator—I understand that completely. But the Oakland Raiders' current head coach was in a similar situation. Hue Jackson was an offensive coordinator in Cleveland for just one year (2010), but he currently has the Raiders playing at a playoff level.
I am not trying to disrespect current Oakland Raider defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, but he has shown me nothing—except that he loves playing prevent defense in the second half.
I'm sorry, I do not think Bresnahan is the right guy for the Raiders. He basically got the job by default, as Hue Jackson chose someone he was comfortable with rather than someone better suited for the job.
Obviously, this is just speculation, but I think the Raiders should really look at Del Rio once their season—and hopefully postseason—ends. I think Rolando McClain and Aaron Curry would flourish under his tutelage.
Plus, Del Rio grew up a Raiders fan—that has to at least give him an upside.
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