The Raiders are said to be preparing to officially announce the hiring of Jack Del Rio as their 21st head coach. While Del Rio’s career coaching record of 68-71 and two playoff appearances in nine seasons isn’t going to make John Madden or Bill Belichick jealous, it’s still a solid record.
And Terrance Knighton’s reaction is certainly a positive indicator of how Del Rio is appreciated by his players, as Sparano appeared to be as well. Knighton is one of several Denver players who are about to hit free agency, and will be targeted by the Raiders.
At the end of the regular season, it initially appeared as if Reggie McKenzie and/or Mark Davis might be seriously considering letting Tony Sparano have a full season to work with, go through free agency and the draft, choose to hire his own coordinators or retain Olson and Tarver, etc. There’s an argument to be made for that, just like there’s an argument to be made that both Olson and Tarver did the best they could with the talent they had.
But three years into the Big Rebuild, that wasn’t an option. “Win now” clichés aside, the Raiders really do need to start turning things around, and at least being competitive again. Even if they don’t make the playoffs next year, just showing up and playing harder and smarter every week, every game, would make all the difference.
It’s not just the 11-37 record posted over the last three seasons, it’s that around half of those losses were inept no-shows. Del Rio’s track record seems to indicate that he holds people accountable, pushes them hard, expects high levels of performance.
It all starts with who Del Rio can pull in for coordinator positions (Greg Olson is already interviewing with the Jaguars, a position he previously held), and if he can make the Raiders a more preferable destination for prospective free agents.