Jack Del Rio: An Optimsitic Outlook From Someone Who Was Pessimistic


Jan 16, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Jack Del Rio at press conference to announce his hiring as Oakland Raiders head coach at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After casting a wide-net of interviews, the Oakland Raiders officially introduced Jack Del Rio as the 19th Head Coach in franchise history.

Del Rio is the fourth coach hired in six years and the seventh (eight if you count Tony Sparano’s interim tenure) since their Super Bowl appearance in 2002.

The Raiders have undoubtedly fallen on hard times, and Del Rio, a Bay Area native and noted Raiders fan, is the next man up with hopes of fixing the franchise.

When the coaching search began at the start of the offseason, many names were thrown around as potential candidates for the Raiders job.  Most notably, Jim Harbaugh

With Harbaugh opting for his alma mater over any of the NFL options, it seemed the Raiders didn’t have a Plan B.

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Names like Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur and Scott Linehan surfaced, and Raider Nation was growing more impatient by the day.

Del Rio’s name surfaced early in the process as well, and he immediately became a frontrunner for the position.

I was pessimistic about Del Rio when he was first mentioned as a candidate.  Not much of what happened in Jacksonville impressed me, and while his defenses in Denver ranked highly, they were very talented but still fell short.

But digging into his schemes more, his defenses are more versatile than I was giving credit for, his Jaguars teams were never that talented but still performed well, and they played in a division dominated by Peyton Manning.

And after watching his introduction press conference, it’s clear to me now that Del Rio is the right man for the job.

Del Rio said all the right things during his introduction, and while press conferences are really nothing more than prepared statements and mostly softball questions, something can be said for a coach who can clearly project a vision for the future.

During the presser, Del Rio alluded to a few things in particular.

First and foremost, he provided a favorable answer to a question about Derek Carr.

"“As an organization, we have a lot to do, but we understand where we’re going and how we’re going to get there,” Del Rio said. “Part of that is making sure a good, young talent like Derek is not asked to do too much, that he has a great support system around him.”"

Del Rio hit the nail on the head.  Carr showed promise in his rookie season and has all the makings of a franchise quarterback, but he needs support to get there.

Next, Del Rio mentioned the importance of being on the same page as Reggie McKenzie.

"“Reggie and I are unified in building this roster strong, unified in assembling a very strong coaching staff and unified in doing everything in our power to make everybody that’s a part of this organization proud.”"

The next step for Del Rio is putting together a coaching staff.  One advantage of being in the NFL as long as Del Rio has is having connections on multiple teams, which should allow him to build a strong staff.

A few minutes after the presser began, news broke that Mike Tice would be joining Del Rio in Oakland to coach the offensive line.

After originally denying the Raiders permission, both Tice and the Raiders remained persistent and the Atlanta Falcons eventually decided letting Tice out of his contract was the right thing to do.

Tice is an outstanding offensive line coach and will do wonders with Gabe Jackson and the rest of that unit.

Most importantly, though, will be the hiring of the offensive and defensive coordinators.

When it comes to financing the coordinators and the rest of the staff, Mark Davis let Del Rio know that money will not be an issue:

"“I let Jack know he has all the resources he needs to do that.”"

This is good to hear, and will certainly be needed.  With a few outstanding coordinators available, namely Marc Trestman and Vic Fangio, among others, competition to land the services of these coaches will be steep.

Trestman and Fangio are widely regarded as the best offensive and defensive coordinators on the market, respectively.  Mike Smith would a good option for defensive coordinator, and is more realistic than Fangio.

If Del Rio can land any combination of the aforementioned coordinators, and also poach several of Denver’s top assistant coaches (Eric Studesville, Jay Rodgers, Cory Undlin to name a few), that will certainly prove that Del Rio is the right man for the job.

That, combined with his impressive introduction will turn a once naysayer into a believer.

Sure, press conferences don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things.  Games are won on the football field, not behind a microphone.

Del Rio understands that, and mentioned several times that there is much work needed to be done.

But he’s excited to get to work, and the fans should be excited with him.  I know I am.

Welcome home, Coach.

Next: What Mike Tice Brings To The Oakland Raiders