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Broncos believe Raiders made good hire in Jack Del Rio

1/15/2015

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A rather extreme makeover for a 12-win team continued Wednesday when Denver Broncos players and officials were informed defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio had accepted an offer to be the Oakland Raiders coach.

John Fox and the Broncos "parted ways" on Monday, and Del Rio informed team officials Wednesday afternoon he was moving on, as well, after three seasons. Del Rio, who signed a contract extension before this past season, is the second consecutive Broncos defensive coordinator to take the Raiders' job, following Dennis Allen, who left the Broncos following the 2011 season.

Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase could also poised to leave his position. He has interviewed with four teams, including two sit-downs with the San Francisco 49ers -- who promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach. Gase then met with Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway briefly Wednesday morning. Elway said Tuesday both Gase and Del Rio were "candidates" for the Broncos' coaching vacancy but would not say whether he would interview both.

Broncos players have been solidly behind Del Rio. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said in the days leading up to Sunday's 23-14 divisional-round loss to the Indianapolis Colts: "he's a genius ... he knows what's coming so we know what's coming."

Knighton, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, figures to be on the Raiders' radar now. When Knighton arrived in Denver in 2013, Del Rio said his addition was one of the team's most important offseason moves that year.

Some of the Broncos took to Twitter to show their support, as well:

For the third time in the past three seasons, the Broncos will see one of their coordinators take a head coaching job elsewhere in their division. There was Allen in 2012, and former offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was hired as the San Diego Chargers coach following in 2013.

Del Rio had his first interview with the Raiders on Jan. 4, and multiple sources confirmed Monday that the second interview with Raiders officials, including owner Mark Davis, took place Tuesday. Del Rio then accepted the job and the four-year contract that goes with it Wednesday.

By league rules, since the Broncos' season ended with the loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Del Rio and Gase could reconnect with the teams that interviewed them during the playoff bye week if those organizations were still interested.

On his initial interview with the Raiders, Del Rio said days before the Colts game that "I think it went well."

Del Rio, a native of a Hayward, California, has family members who have been Raiders season-ticket holders. It was a job he desired, and it didn't escape notice that Davis sought out Del Rio on the field during warm-ups before the Broncos and Raiders played in the regular-season finale Dec. 28.

The Broncos finished No. 3 in total defense this season and led the league in forcing three-and-outs. In 2012, Del Rio's first season in Denver, the Broncos were No. 2 in overall defense, No. 4 in scoring defense and tied for the league lead in sacks.

Denver has won four consecutive AFC West titles, and Del Rio was on Fox's staff for three of those. Before he was hired by Fox -- after a meeting at the Senior Bowl -- Del Rio had been the Jacksonville Jaguars' head coach for nine years.

Del Rio has made no secret that he hoped for a second chance at being a head coach. He had a 68-71 regular-season record with the Jaguars and made the postseason in 2005 and 2007, winning one playoff game. He was fired 11 games into the 2011 season after the Jaguars started 3-8.