Newly named Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio may have come across as "Mile High" during his introductory press conference on Monday afternoon, but if he had listened to his inner circle, he would have never taken the job.
As certain as Del Rio was in his statements about where he plans to take his new unit and even answering the absurdly gratuitous question about Tim Tebow, the Broncos' newest coach admitted that the opportunity in Denver was one he was advised to turn down. A number of people Del Rio spoke with before taking this position told him to sit out this year and wait for another head coaching opportunity.
"I thought a lot about it," Del Rio said. "I had a lot of advice from many of my friends that are professionals out there. I had pretty much unanimous support that they thought I should stay out, but I love to compete. I love being around football, so it's not about money. It's about an opportunity."
Del Rio spent the better part of the past nine seasons as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, leading them to a 68-71 record and two postseason appearances. But with the Jaguars mired in yet another rebuilding year, Del Rio was axed in November and now rejoins head coach John Fox in Denver. The two were together when Fox was head coach of the Carolina Panthers and Del Rio served as the Panthers defensive coordinator in 2002 before leaving for Jacksonville.
"I spent just the one year with him, but during that time, I learned a great deal being a part of his staff and the way he conducted his business, the way he motivated the team and rallied the team and led the staff, the way he interacts with the building," Del Rio said.
"Those are all things that I believe in, and I look forward to being a great support for him here and helping him win."
The Broncos defense was credited for carrying an offense that was unpredictable and sporadic at times last year, but looking at the unit's performance over 16 games, there is plenty for Del Rio to improve upon. Rated the No. 20 defense overall in the NFL, the Broncos gave up 24.4 points per game, ninth worst in the league. As the Broncos option offense continues to develop, the defense will continue to be called upon to carry the offense through more games this upcoming season.
And while Del Rio wouldn't offer specifics on if his time in Denver will be merely a stepping stone to another head-coaching position -- he did interview for the Kansas City job -- he takes over a Broncos defense that has had seven coordinators in as many years.
"That's an unusual thing to have happen, and I really don't know a lot about what went into all of that to make that statistic be a reality," Del Rio said. "For me, I'm excited to be here. I'm fired up. I'm not looking anywhere other than the next week, the next month and how we can dig in and do a great job here. That's what I'm all about. I'm 100 percent in as a member of this organization. I'm going to be a good worker bee on the staff for John Fox.
"All the people here, I'm going to give them 100 percent of what I have and try and help this organization win. I can't really speak to what it was before, and I really have no idea what it's going to be going forward. But I know I'm fired up to be here."
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