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Jack Del Rio flew home from Denver on Monday, quite possibly to start the next chapter in his life. The East Bay native and Hayward High grad will interview Tuesday to become the Raiders next head coach.
It’s his second pitch. The first came on Jan. 4 in Denver, but owner Mark Davis was the primary Raiders representative. This time, Denver’s defensive coordinator speaks to the whole crew. General manager Reggie McKenzie will meet with Del Rio about this head-coaching vacancy for the first time. Advisor and former Raiders coach John Madden is expected to be there, as are several power players in the Raiders front office.
While nothing is certain and there is no hard timeline for the week’s proceedings, sources have long indicated that Del Rio is a strong favorite and a solid showing on Tuesday will only bolster that spot. It could certainly push him over the top. Time will tell on that end.
Interim head coach Tony Sparano has spoken regularly with owner Mark Davis during the offseason, and had a longer, formal interview on Jan. 7. He, and other candidates not involved in the NFL playoffs, were free to get hired at any time.
The Raiders waited through the weekend, and quickly pounced once the Denver Broncos lost in the AFC’s divisional round on Sunday. They set up an interview with Del Rio shortly after the Broncos loss.
That result dropped a bomb on the Broncos coaching staff. Head coach John Fox was allowed to leave. All assistants, including Del Rio were told they were free to pursue employment. Del Rio went 3-1 as interim head coach, but isn’t expected to be a candidate for a permanent head-coaching job in Denver.
That leaves a return home, and to head coaching, as Del Rio’s likeliest move. He was 68-71 as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, a post he maintained from 2003-11. He took the Jaguars to the postseason twice and hovered around .500 in most other seasons.
He became Denver’s defensive coordinator in 2012, a vacancy created after, ironically enough, Dennis Allen left to become Raiders head coach.
The Broncos flourished under Del Rio – they were also loaded with talent – finishing in the top three in total defense two out of his three years there.
In Denver, his players always thought he wanted to be a head coach again.
“I think he will always be a head coach,” Broncos linebacker Vonn Miller told the Denver Post. “Even when he was here (as defensive coordinator), I think once you’ve become a head coach, you never lose that. He coached us like he was a head coach.”
That’s why this second interview is so important for Del Rio, who reportedly covets this job. It would give him a chance to resurrect a franchise he grew up rooting for, with the job title he apparently hoped to reclaim.