- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Broncos’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 3 | Last week: 2 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
Perhaps it is a testament to what happened to the Denver Broncos in the week they did not play, but coming out of their bye the Broncos dropped a spot, to No. 3, in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings.
The Broncos (7-1) entered the bye week at No. 2, but as of Saturday their football lives have changed quite a bit. That’s when head coach John Fox felt dizzy and lightheaded during a round of golf in Charlotte, N.C. Fox had open-heart surgery Monday morning to replace his aortic valve and will miss several weeks.
The Broncos have named defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio interim head coach in Fox's absence (Del Rio will continue to call plays on defense). But it was a sobering start to the week for a team that already has navigated plenty of off-the-field drama this season.
Del Rio’s message has been to keep doing what they were doing, and he said his mission would be to get the team focused for a postseason run.
"I would say that, for us, we believe we have a good football team -- a bunch of good veteran leaders in that locker room and we’re on a mission," Del Rio said. "We’re on a mission to carry on and continue the things that Coach Fox has instilled and started with this football team. ... We have a good team, we have high expectations and we’ll embrace all of that. I think for us, the main thing is just to focus on the process. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of challenges ahead of us to finish this year strong."
The Broncos face the Chargers on Sunday in San Diego, with two games against the Chiefs and one against the Patriots in the three weeks that follow.