Before you start in with the ‘not another Denver defensive coordinator' talk, hear me out.
Del Rio is NOT just another Denver defensive coordinator. He and Dennis Allen couldn't be more different, in fact. The fact that Del Rio is currently the defensive coordinator in Denver is really more of a coincidence than anything.
Allen had zero head coaching experience at any level before taking the Raiders head job. He was considered a bright young mind whose time had come to get the promotion from coordinator to head coach. That was a swing and miss.
When Del Rio took over as Defensive coordinator for Allen, their defense immediately rose from 24th in points and 20th in yards to 4th in points and 2nd in yards. That's a HUGE leap. Granted, some of that had to do with Peyton Manning joining the team (better offenses almost always lead to better defensive performance due to opposing teams having to try to play catch-up). This past season the Broncos were ranked 3rd in yards.
Del Rio has been a head coach in this league. Nine years a head coach, in fact. He was the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-2011. During that time, the Jaguars were actually a pretty decent team. He took the Jaguars to the playoffs twice - losing in the wildcard round in 2005 and losing in the division round in 2007.
He had four losing seasons with two of them coming in his first year (5-11) and final partial season (3-8). He holds a respectible 68-71 record as a head coach.
Despite Ian Rappoport saying Monday that Del Rio is in the mix for the Raiders head job, this is not a new idea. Del Rio is originally from the East Bay. He was born in Castro Valley and went to high school in Hayward before heading to USC for college where he was a standout linebacker. He grew up in a family of Raiders fans and his parents are Raiders season ticket holders.
So, we can assume there is plenty of interest on the part of Del Rio. Mark Davis sought out Del Rio to speak with him prior to the meeting of their two teams Sunday in Denver. There appears to be clear mutual interest there.
Following a 12-year NFL career that saw him named All Pro once, he went into coaching. He spent three seasons as the linebackers coach in Baltimore. His first season there, Ray Lewis was named All Pro for the first time and remained an All Pro all three seasons he and Del Rio were together. He then became the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers for one season under head coach John Fox. Hence the reason why he chose to join the Broncos as defensive coordinator three seasons ago.
After just one season as their defensive coordinator, his time had come to make the jump to head coach.
Del Rio is well-respected as a coach and former player. An added bonus to Del Rio is he would likely bring with him Dirk Koetter who was his offensive coordinator for five seasons in Jacksonville (2007-2011) and who was just ousted as part of Mike Smith's staff in Atlanta. Koetter is one of the most respected offensive minds in the NFL and will be swiped up quickly by someone.
I know, fans had stars in their eyes with Jim Harbaugh or perhaps even some of you think highly of Rex Ryan. But even they have flaws or they wouldn't be free agents right now. And if you are skittish about the Raiders hiring another unproven assistant, Del Rio removes that worry as well.