As of yesterday, former Jacksonville Jaguars HC Jack Del Rio was signed to be our DC. Del Rio is a former 11-year NFL Linebacker who was a one time All-Pro and Pro-Bowler (1994). He has been a coach in some capacity since 1997.
1997-1998: Strength and Conditioning Coach, Saints
1999-2001: Linebacker Coach, Ravens (Super Bowl 35 Champion)
2002: Defensive Coordinator, Panthers (with John Fox)
2003-2011: Head Coach, Jaguars (69-73 record including 1-2 in the postseason)
Overall, JDR has helped coach some potent defenses over the years. Let's examine his rankings as both a DC and HC. (Although he did help coach one of the greatest defenses in NFL history with the Ravens, I'm including only the years he was directly in charge of or in direct control of his teams' defensive philosophies)
Jack Del Rio Defensive Rankings, 2002-2011
- As DC with John Fox's Carolina Panthers in 2002, Del Rio's defense ranked in the top 5 in both yards allowed (2nd) and points per game average (5th).
- In 10 seasons, his defenses have ranked in the top 10 in yards allowed five times, and have ranked in the top 10 in scoring average six times.
- In 5/10 seasons, his defenses have allowed an average of less than 20 PPG , with his defenses allowing under 20.7 PPG seven times.
- Overall his defenses against the run have played extremely well allowing less than a 105 YPG six times and under 100 YPG three times. Three times his defenses have allowed over 110 YPG rushing, which the Broncos have done every season for the last six years (more on that later).
- If we use 200 YPG Passing as our benchmark, his defenses have allowed over that mark six times, and under that mark four times. Only 3 times in his coaching career have his defenses allowed over a 213 YPG passing average.
-In his last year as HC, his defense ranked 6th in total yards allowed and 10th in points allowed. This defense was on the field quite a bit folks, defensively his team had a fantastic year.
Earlier, I alluded to the rankings of our Broncos Defense. Let's take a look at each of the different DC that we have had the last six years:
*The 2007 Broncos media guide lists Jim Bates as Assistant Head Coach/Defense, and Bob Slowik as Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach.
- Mike Nolan did the best job out of all of our former DC. He oversaw the biggest single season turnaround out of anyone else on that list. His defense had the highest ranking defense in yards (7) and the second highest ranking in points per game (T-12). While Nolan's defense was downright stingy in coverage, his defense did allow 128.7 YPG rushing.
- The second most successful coordinator the last six years was Larry Coyer.
- Dennis Allen helped the Broncos recover from being ranked dead last in both yards and points, to a more middle of the pack team.
- If you notice the last six years the Broncos defense has never held opposing offenses to under 110 YPG average rushing----in fact they have only allowed under 115 once. The Broncos defense has also allowed an average of less than 20 PPG once, and have ranked 23rd or higher in that category in four out of the six years.
What areas need improvement and how can Del Rio help us?
First and foremost, Del Rio is a former linebacker and launched his coaching career as a linebackers coach with the Baltimore Ravens. While Dennis Allen was a former DB coach before becoming our DC, our secondary with him at the helm was still a bit suspect allowing the second worse passing YPG average out of the last six DC. Look for Del Rio to have a larger impact on our linebacking corps, I expect there to be some new blood and improved play with him coming in, obviously this is an area that needs improvement, as does our secondary. Let's also expect our defense to make a better improvement in the running game, as that seems to be a hallmark of Del Rio coached defenses. In about 5/10 years as a coach, JDR's defenses have ranked in the the top ten in yards allowed and PPG average. Only once have his defenses allowed an average of more than 25 PPG, while in the last six years, the Broncos defense has done that three times. I think we can expect our defense to improve its overall physical play.
One season in particular stands out, and that was the last one JDR and Fox were together in the same capacity: 2002. That Panther defense was 2nd in yards and 5th and scoring, so let's hope that this combination can conjure some of that old chemistry.
Dennis Allen took us from last to the bottom of the second tier of defenses in the NFL. I think a realistic expectation is to see our defense move from the high 20's to top 15 in both yards and points. I also think a realistic expectation is to see our defense to allow between 110-118 YPG rushing.
Welcome to our family Mr. Del Rio, hope you succeed and hope you stay for a while! Go Broncos!!!