In what was an expected move, the Denver Broncos have officially named defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio the team’s interim head coach. Del Rio will step in for current head coach John Fox, who will be out for four to six weeks following a medical emergency this weekend.
Fox will undergo surgery on Tuesday to replace an aortic heart valve. He felt lightheaded at a Charlotte golf course on Saturday and was taken to a local hospital. The 66-year-old had planned to addressed the medical situation after the season, but after visiting his surgeon during Denver’s bye week, the surgeon suggested he take immediate action.
Del Rio is in his second season as the defensive coordinator in Denver but is familiar with being a head coach in the NFL. He spent nine years at the helm of the Jacksonville Jaguars and posted a 68-71 record while making the playoffs twice.
Del Rio’s job will be much easier this time around with Peyton Manning under center and an offense absolutely loaded with talent. Del Rio will probably just allow Manning and offensive coordinator Adam Gase to handle the offense while he focuses on shoring up his defense.
The 50-year-old Del Rio played 11 seasons as a linebacker in the NFL and was an All-Pro in 1994. He was the linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens team that won Super Bowl XXXV, then became the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers in 2002. He took over as the Jaguars head coach in 2003 and held the position until 2011.
Del Rio is a former head coach, which is why he was chosen to take over for Fox. He is intimately familiar with the duties of a head coach in the NFL and it shouldn’t be a problem for him to step right in and keep Fox’s seat warm for him.
The USC legend has also been mentioned as a potential candidate for the head job at his alma mater, but that talk has cooled recently.
The Broncos are currently 7-1 and travel to face the 4-4 San Diego Chargers on Sunday.