Returning NFL Coach Profile: Jack Del Rio (Oakland Raiders)

Ryan Loftis By Ryan Loftis, 1st Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Sports>Football (American)

A profile of Jack Del Rio, the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders.

Early Years

Jack Del Rio was born on April 4, 1963, in Castro Valley, Calif. After starring in football, baseball, and basketball at Hayward High School in Hayward, Calif., he attended the University of Southern California, where he played on the football and baseball teams. A four-year starter at linebacker, Del Rio was a consensus All-American as a senior and named co-MVP of the 1985 Rose Bowl. He spent two seasons as a Trojans catcher (future major league stars Randy Johnson and Mark McGwire were among his teammates) and hit better than .300 in both. In May 2015, Del Rio was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.

Playing Career

Four years after being drafted by Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays, Del Rio was taken in the third round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. He was named the Saints' Rookie of the Year and made the NFL's All-Rookie Team. Del Rio spent two seasons with the Saints, two with the Kansas City Chiefs, three with the Dallas Cowboys, and four with the Minnesota Vikings. A Pro Bowler in 1994, Del Rio started 128 of his 160 career games and recorded 1,078 tackles, 12 sacks, and 13 interceptions.

Coaching Career

Del Rio began his coaching career with the Saints in 1997. He was an assistant strength coach in his first season in the Big Easy and linebackers coach in his second.

In 1999, Del Rio began a three-season stint as the Baltimore Ravens' linebackers coach. The Ravens allowed only 165 points in the 2000 season, an NFL record for 16 games, and forced a league-best 49 turnovers. Baltimore allowed only one touchdown during four postseason games. The Ravens ended their season by crushing the New York Giants 34-7 and claiming the first world championship in team history.

Jacksonville Jaguars

After serving as the Carolina Panthers' defensive coordinator during the 2002 season, Del Rio was hired as the Jacksonville Jaguars' head coach in January 2003. He replaced Tom Coughlin, who had coached the Jaguars since their inaugural season in 1995. Coughlin led the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game twice in the team's first five seasons, but a 19-29 record from 2000-02 cost him his job.

Del Rio's first season in Jacksonville was difficult, as the team posted a 5-11 record, but the Jaguars went 9-7 in the 2004 season to claim their first winning record in five years. The 2005 season was even better, as the Jaguars went 12-4 and made the playoffs. Jacksonville slipped to 8-8 in 2006 but improved to 11-5 in 2007 and won their first playoff game in eight years. It would be Del Rio's last winning season with the Jaguars.

The Jaguars were 3-8 when Del Rio was fired on Nov. 29, 2011. Owner Wayne Weaver sold the team to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan the same day. According to an article, Jaguars fans "will remember Del Rio's tenure as one that lasted too long and was filled with quarterback chaos, inconsistency, staff turnover, and late season collapses. There was also the decision to place an ax and a wooden stump in the locker room to remind players to "keep chopping wood." It backfired miserably when punter Chris Hanson accidentally hacked into his leg and was placed on injured reserve." Del Rio compiled a 69-73 record in Jacksonville.

Mile High

Del Rio was the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator from 2012-14. Linebacker Von Miller set a Broncos record in the 2012 season with 18.5 sacks, while linebacker Wesley Woodyard became only the second Bronco in 30 years to have at least 100 tackles, five sacks, and three interceptions in a season. The Broncos' defense improved drastically in the final four weeks of the 2013 season, and they won the AFC Championship. Denver's stellar defense went missing in action during Super Bowl XLVIII, however, and they were crushed 43-8 by the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos ranked third in the NFL in overall defense in the 2014 season and won their third straight AFC West title.

Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders announced on Jan. 15, 2015, that they had hired Del Rio as their new head coach. The Raiders have missed the playoffs for 12 consecutive seasons (never winning more than half their games in a season) and gone through eight head coaches during that time.


Denver Broncos, Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints

Meet the author

author avatar Ryan Loftis
I graduated from Central Michigan University with a journalism degree and have been a freelance writer for various print and online publications since then.

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