ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - After nine seasons as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jack Del Rio joined the Broncos in late January to run the team's defense.
It's the first time Del Rio has been a defensive coordinator since 2002, when he worked with then-Head Coach John Fox in Carolina.
Now reunited with Fox, Del Rio said he's looking to bring some of the "Orange Crush" mentality back to the Denver defense. He spoke with DenverBroncos.com about his move to Denver, his relationship with Coach Fox and the benefit of being a former player.
Has it been an easy transition to Denver?
"It's been great. It's a good organization. There are a lot of good people in the building. It starts at the top with Mr. (Owner and CEO Pat) Bowlen, and all the way down. I've worked with (Head Coach) John Fox before and obviously I've played against (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) John Elway, but to see him in the leadership role that he's in; it's just a great time to be involved with the Broncos organization."
Did your relationship with Coach Fox pick up where it left off after your season together in Carolina?
"We've remained friends over the years. Obviously he was instrumental in my development as a defensive coordinator the first time around. I learned a lot. We have a pretty open communication line. I'll pick his brain on things and he'll come in and run things by me. I enjoy working for him. He's a good guy to work for. He's a people person. He brings a lot of positive energy every day and I love that. I'm certainly happy to be here."
Is it beneficial working with a head coach that shares your enthusiasm for defense?
"He does a great job of giving input but letting me be myself. I certainly appreciate that. It's a good situation. I know exactly the things he's looking for and what he wants out of his coordinators. I came into the situation with a real clear understanding of what needs to get done for the organization to be successful."
What's the biggest difference in being a coordinator as opposed to a head coach?
"I have a little more time to devote to one side. As a head coach, I never really quite took myself out of any one phase. I tried to be involved in all three. Now I focus on the defensive side and put my energy there. I love it. I love coaching. That's why I'm doing it rather than being out. I love being in the grass. I love teaching men. I love inspiring those guys to play well on Sundays."
What do you try to get across to your players during practice?
"Fortunately I was able to play in the league and I've got some experiences I can share with them - some of them from mistakes I made, some of them from things I've learned. I just try to share some of the wisdom with them. I encourage the veteran players to share their wisdom with the younger players as well. That's really almost a lost art with some of the young guys that come in really not deferring to the veteran player like they once did. That's something I've always taken pride in as a player, and as coach the same way. Just trying to impart some of the wisdom that you gain over the years of experience."
Does having played in the NFL help you connect with your players?
"I've always felt being a former player gives me the first five minutes. Then, coaching as a profession, you either can help a guy be better or not.Regardless if he played or not, if a coach shows you that he can help you play better on Sunday, then you'll soak it up and do whatever he says. Conversely, if a coach doesn't, then you tend to tune him out. It's my job to make sure I'm helping these guys play better on Sundays. That's how I look at it. Ultimately on Sundays I'm going to stand behind the white line and hope like heck that I've given them a toolbox with the necessary equipment to go out there and get the job done."
"I think people will try and attack where they feel you're weakest. We're working hard this time of year to eliminate weakness. We know we have some strength and we want to build around that strength and make this defense a very strong unit overall. I've told the guys - we want to bring back the Orange Crush. We want to bring back the pride of playing great defense here in Denver. This was a place - Karl Mecklenburg and Tom Jackson - there are some names through history where Denver has produced some great defense. We want to bring some of that back."
Are you excited about the mix of youth and experience on defense with training camp just around the corner?
"We've got some really good young talent and we've got some veteran talent that still continues to play at a high level. It is a good mix and right now we're just trying to come together and jell as a unit."