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Del Rio 'Fired Up to Be Here'


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the end, Jack Del Rio simply couldn't pass up the opportunity in front of him.

The Broncos' new defensive coordinator said he thought long and hard about taking a year away from football after serving as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2003.

"The opportunity to work here in a situation where we're really excited, it's too much to pass up," Del Rio said in a conference call Monday. "I love to compete. I love being around ball."

"I know I'm fired up to be here."

This week coaches have a little time off, but Del Rio is in the office, digging into film study and working to ensure "a smooth transition" from previous Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen.

He pointed to "strides" the Broncos defense made in 2011, and stressed the importance of continuing that growth.

"They played some really good ball down the stretch," Del Rio said. "We just want to build on that and try to improve and help this football team win. I feel like last year was a good start in that direction."

Del Rio is familiar with rapid defensive improvement, as the last time he worked with Head Coach John Fox -- in Carolina in 2002 -- he helped transform a defense that ranked last in the league the previous season into the NFL's No. 2 overall unit.

For nine seasons in Jacksonville, Del Rio's club was typically stout on defense.

His defenses allowed the sixth-fewest yards per game (317.3) in the NFL during his tenure with the Jaguars in addition to surrendering the fifth-fewest first downs per game (17.8) in that span. This past season in 2011, Jacksonville had the league's No. 6 overall defense, which ranked in the top 10 against both the run and the pass.

From serving as a linebackers coach in New Orleans in 1998, to holding the same position with the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2001 to working with Fox as defensive coordinator in Carolina, Del Rio said his defenses have always thrived on physicality.

"There are some things that you have to do defensively to be good in this league," Del Rio said. "You have to be able to affect the quarterback, you've got to be able to get off the field on third down, you can't let people run the ball down your throat and you've got to be able to shed blocks and tackle."

"It's hard to sum it up in just a few words, but for us, we want to be an attacking defense, one that's going to be able to get after quarterbacks and make their life miserable," Del Rio continued, stressing the importance of stopping the run and forcing turnovers. "At the end of the day, help the team win."

Del Rio mentioned his relationship with Fox as one of the determining factors that brought him to Denver. He referred to Fox as "a good man" and "a good coach," and called the Broncos a "first-class organization."

After nine years in charge in Jacksonville, which he said made him a better coach, Del Rio is anxious to reunite with Fox and focus on the defensive side of the ball again.

"I find myself, right now, rejuvenated," Del Rio said. "I'm very excited about the opportunity here to come to Denver, to come to this franchise, this organization, to be a part of it. I'm eager to get going."

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