Raiders owner Mark Davis did not interview Jack Del Rio with a positive outlook.
Simply put, the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator did not check enough boxes to be his next head coach. Davis knew that, and told Del Rio as such.
Previous head coaching experience? Check. Successful leader of a once-struggling franchise? Check. Offensive-minded man who can maximize quarterback Derek Carr’s potential? Well, not so much. On the surface, at least.
“It’s kind of funny,” Davis said. “When we first had a talk about even having the meeting, I told Jack that I think I’m going to go in a different direction and I’m thinking about going more offensive as the head coach, because we have a young quarterback and everything. Jack said, ‘Woah, woah, woah, stop. I know about offense as well.’
“When we met and he dissected the Raiders’ roster and was able to tell me about each offensive player and tell me how he thought they ranked and how they did, it was pretty amazing to me that he had just spent a whole season up in Denver but knew our offensive roster as well as anybody. That showed me that he’s ready to be here and take that part of the anxiety out of me about going with another defensive coach.”
The last one was Dennis Allen, another defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. That didn’t work out so well.
Job titles, however, are where similarities cease. Davis had nothing to do with the last hire.
Not so this time.
One thing is crystal clear: Del Rio is his own man. He won Friday’s press conference with ease, as gracefully as he won over an owner hell-bent on heading in an offensive direction with this hire. He came in confident. Every answer had purpose. Unlike recent head coaches of this franchise, Del Rio has swagger.
Del Rio doesn’t think he’ll be able to turn around a once-proud team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2002. He knows it.
It was a refreshing turn, something welcome in a neck of the woods where optimism is scarce. Del Rio will receive positive press over the ensuing months, as the hometown boy done great and the next savior of a once-proud franchise.
Del Rio will only live up to such billing with wins, but he’s off to a great start. General manager Reggie McKenzie backs this hire 100 percent.
He spoke to Del Rio about coaching in 2012, but was looking for “something new.” He hired Allen, which was a mistake. But Del Rio says he wasn’t the man for that job, though he is the man for this one.
He spent three years as Broncos defensive coordinator, which garnered perspective after nine seasons as Jacksonville Jaguars head coach.
“After nine years, I need a little rejuvenation,” Del Rio said. “I feel like the last three years have been very beneficial in terms of me being reenergized, rejuvenated, whatever you’d like to call it. I was able to collect myself, go through some things that went well that didn’t go well. I was able to make sure that my thoughts going forward were to not make mistakes again where I had made mistakes, to do the things that I did well even better. Basically, the goal was to just grow from the experience. Hopefully now I will be able to utilize that knowledge and apply it now with this great opportunity.”
Watch Insider Scott Bair expand on the Raiders' next step tonight at 8:30 p.m on Yahoo! SportsTalk Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area..