Jack Del Rio will go back to being an assistant today, but the job he did handling the Broncos in John Fox’s absence was noticed by his boss.
According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, Broncos executive John Elway presented his interim coach with a game ball last night, after he improved to 3-1 while holding the wheel while Fox had heart surgery. Fox will return to the job today after a four-week absence.
“It was special to have John Elway recognize the things I did, but I basically want to say that is just a representation of what we all did,” Del Rio said. “It wasn’t about me. It was a collective effort.”
Getting through the shock of losing the head coach for a month was one thing, but the Broncos also had to overcome a tough loss at New England by rebounding to beat the Chiefs on the road, and players said Del Rio’s experience was evident.
“He has great command in team meetings, addressing the team and you can tell he has been an experienced head coach,” quarterback Peyton Manning said of Del Rio, who he used to kick around in the AFC South when Del Rio coached the Jaguars. “Our team has faced a lot of adversity in just a short time. You never expect your head coach not to be with you the entire time. But coach Del Rio has done a great job keeping us together. It was a pretty tough four-game stretch he had to endure and the team responded. But we are certainly glad to have coach Fox back.”
Del Rio certainly didn’t hurt his stock for future head coaching opportunities in his short time in charge, though the memories of his long run of mediocrity in Jacksonville (69-73 in nine seasons) may make it hard for someone to hand him the keys to an NFL team on a full-time basis again.