“I have a ton of respect for Coach Madden as a coach and man,” said Del Rio after minicamp Thursday. “To be able to have somebody like that I can talk with, it’s a great honor and something I’m very appreciative of.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone could provide Del Rio with better counsel on how to succeed as a coach in Oakland. During Madden’s ten years as the Raiders’ head coach—including one year in the AFL—Madden never went below .500 in a season, while racking up 103 wins and just 32 losses.
Matching that kind of success and longevity in the modern era would be Belichick-esque and should prove a nearly impossible task for Del Rio, but he does have the team in the best shape its been in over a decade.
Del Rio, who has a 19-13 record with the Raiders thus far, had a fruitful conversation with Madden at Steve Mariucci’s Bocce tournament the week prior, where the Hall of Fame coach had emphasized incremental improvement.
“Knowing that you have lofty goals, down the road kind of goals, but it’s about the work you put in everyday,” said Del Rio, paraphrasing the advice Madden had given him the previous week. “That’s the process of becoming a really good football team.”
That process is well underway for Del Rio and his squad, coming off a 12-win season. The next step for the current coach and his squad will be attempting to replicate Madden’s success in the Big Game.