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Coaching By Example

Posted Jun 5, 2012

Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio uses his 11 years of NFL playing experience to connect with the Broncos defense.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo -- The Broncos’ new defensive coordinator is a big believer in the “Show, don’t tell” teaching philosophy.

Even though Jack Del Rio’s playing days are well behind him – he played linebacker in the NFL from 1985-1996 – he loves to physically demonstrate to his defense how he wants the job done.

“We joke with him all the time -- half the time the offense is snapping the ball and he’s still on the field,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard laughed. “He just likes to get his face in there and tell us what we need to do and coach us up.”

“Sometimes he may see something that we’re doing and we’re wrong and he’ll try to get out there and demonstrate it and show us what we should be doing right," linebacker Joe Mays added. "We take it all in stride.”

For the players, Del Rio’s 11-year tenure in the league adds to his credibility and helps create a stronger connection between player and coach. That connection seems to be particularly strong among the linebacking core.

“To me, that’s exciting,” Woodyard said. “Actually, we can respect it because he’s played linebacker in the league and he knows what’s going on.”

“There’s nothing like having a coach that actually played the game,” Mays agreed. “He knows what’s going on and he knows that things may not work out the exact way that you’re coaching.”

With all the knowledge and understanding that Del Rio brings to the defense and to the linebackers, freedom is what the players treasure most with their new coach.

“Sometimes he lets us just go out there and play ball,” Mays said. “Whether it’s going out there and doing what he tells us to do or if we just go out there and play it the way we see it, we’re never wrong as long as we’re all on the same page. That’s been great for us so far.”

“I think the biggest thing with him is, I like the fact that he loves his players to be playmakers,” Woodyard said. “We might make a mistake but he came up to us and told us, ‘Hey, go make a play. I’m not going to take your playmaking away from you.’ So I think that’s a big thing. Him being a linebacker, he understands the way we feel and what we see. He just always wants to attack things.”

Mays added that the new coordinator’s methods aren’t beneficial to just the veteran linebackers such as himself and Woodyard.

“It's been working out great for us, especially for the young guys because they're able to pick up the playbook just as fast as the veterans,” Mays said. “I'm enjoying it. The rest of the defensive players are enjoying it as well. It's pretty sweet.”

With Del Rio’s playing days more than 15 years behind him, all of the wisdom and experience clearly remain. But the flexibility and range of motion...

“He’s agile,” Woodyard chuckled. “A little bit.”

It depends who you ask.

“He is NOT agile,” yelled Mays as his teammate left the podium.