The Washington Football Team is coming off arguably its best defensive performance of the season against the San Francisco 49ers, and part of the credit for that should go to first-year defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
In just his first season in Washington, he's continued his pattern of finding success early based on his scheme and coaching. In every positive Washington has had on defense this year, Del Rio always gets a mention from his players.
It's clear that Del Rio was a fit at defensive coordinator in Washington, and now he and his young and talented unit should be able to work together for years and establish consistent dominance, right? Maybe not.
Del Rio could find himself in a position to get looks at head coaching jobs from multiple teams with vacancies this offseason, giving him a short tenure in Washington. Why? Well, as young people like to say, he's "hot in the streets" right now. Translation: in a "what have you done lately" league, Del Rio's success in 2020 could push his name to the forefront of the coaching cycle.
When teams set out to find a new head coach, coordinators are always among the top candidates. Coordinators that are doing something right with their unit move even higher up. That's exactly where Del Rio is at.
He may not be Chase Young knocking balls loose and returning them for touchdowns, but his fingerprints are all over a unit that currently ranks fourth in yards allowed per game. Having the addition of the No. 2 overall pick surely helped Washington, but it was up to Del Rio to put all the pieces together and make it work.
There was talent along the defense already in place, but Washington wasn't doing much with it. That side of the ball used to be the problem in years past, now it's the solution. And Del Rio is the man behind it. He rightfully deserves recognition for the job he's done.
That will make him an enticing candidate for teams that find themselves looking for a new head coach. Offense is all the rage in the NFL, but as Washington has shown, strengthening the defense can be just as fruitful. A team could bring in Del Rio as the head coach to work on the defense and pair him with a talented offensive coordinator.
Experience will also help Del Rio. While not all of it has been great, two head coaching stints with the Raiders (2015-17) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2003-11) that involved three trips to the postseason at least demonstrate he has what it takes to be the man in charge and build a culture. If a team is looking for a leader that knows how to work with players, especially veterans, Del Rio can be a good fit.
Washington bringing in Del Rio to operate the defense felt like a home run move at this time. The problem with that is that his quick success lends itself to the potential of another team wanting to steal him away.
For now, the focus is on Washington's defense and a run at the playoffs. But as the hiring of Rivera just days after the end of the 2019 season shows, moves will happen fast. Enjoy what Del Rio has done for the team, because he could be gone this offseason.