PHOENIX – John Fox and Jack Del Rio go way back.
The current Chicago Bears coach gave Del Rio his first defensive coordinator job in 2002. Del Rio became Jacksonville head coach just a year later. After his nine-year tenure with the Jaguars, Fox hired him as defensive coordinator in Denver.
After a three-year stint with the Broncos, Del Rio got another head-coaching gig with the Raiders. Bottom line: When these two defensive minds work together, good things happen.
“I had a tremendous staff in Denver, and Jack was a huge part of that,” Fox said on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. “More often than not we had a top five defense. I plucked him from the Baltimore Ravens back when he was a linebackers coach and gave him his first coordinator job back in Carolina. At that time we were No. 31 in total defense, and that was only because there were 31 teams. We jumped all the way to second with Jack at the helm.
I’ve worked with him a lot, and Jack’s a tremendous coach and a tremendous person. I wish him nothing but the best in Oakland.”
Del Rio took a great deal from his time with Fox in Denver. The stint helped rejuvenate him after a long-tenure in Jacksonville and gave him some fresh perspective. Fox can see how that happened.
“One of the things you miss most being a head coach is that, when you’re a coordinator, is the day to day meetings and the relationships you build with the players,” Fox said. I could certainly see how really focusing on football and could help re-connect to why you love the game. Some guys who make the transition from head coach to coordinator do it better than others, and I thought Jack did a tremendous job.”
Del Rio was appreciative of a man who has provided opportunities to further a coaching career.
“John is a good people person, and being able to go back and spend three years with him following nine years as a head coach, I was able to reset and get with a guy who is a winner in this league,” Del Rio said. “I was able to understand some things he does and why they’re effective. It was a good experience for me. John and I have been friends for a long time, but it’s the professional part (of the relationship) I appreciate the most because of the environment he creates for the players and the staff members. I want to creative a positive environment in Oakland as well.”