The New York Giants may turn to a former head coach and Pro Bowl linebacker to lead their defense, according to reports.
Jack Del Rio, most recently the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, has emerged as the favorite to become the next defensive coordinator of the New York Giants, league sources tell ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
— ESPN New York (@ESPNNewYork) January 21, 2018
Del Rio, 54, was fired as Oakland’s head coach shortly after the end of the regular season that saw the Raiders finish a disappointing 6-10. Over three years, Del Rio led Oakland to a combined 25-23 record, reaching the playoffs once in 2016.
Before that, he spent four years building and overseeing one of the NFL’s best defenses in Denver as the Broncos defensive coordinator. From 2003-2011, he was the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, going 68-71 with two trips to the playoffs.
According to Mortensen’s report, Del Rio has long been on presumptive head coach Pat Shurmur‘s short list of defensive coordinator candidates and is open to joining his staff once his hiring becomes official.
Due an average of $6 million from Oakland over the next three years, Del Rio isn’t likely to cost much to bring on board.
Del Rio is known to employ sometimes unorthodox motivational techniques. Back in 2008, while with Jacksonville, he had a tree stump and an ax in the locker room to signify that the team needed to “keep choppin’ wood.” Unfortunately, Pro Bowl punter Chris Hanson hit his foot—not the wood—with the ax and was lost for the season.
“Chris said that everyone else had been taking a swing with the ax, chopping the wood, and he finally decided to do it, too,” Hanson’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli at the time. “Unfortunately, the ax either went through the wood, or bounced off it, and went into Chris’ foot. Chris told me it is a pretty significant injury.”
With the Broncos in 2015, he’d intertwine videos of animals attacking—sometimes attacking humans—with plays from the previous week’s game.
“When they show the animal and then they show previous plays made during the week, it looks similar to how we attack the ball and how physical we are,” then-Broncos defensive tackle Terrence Knighton said, via CBS 4 Denver. “And we just want to have that animal instinct — just out there hunting, and being ferocious. That’s what defense is all about.”
With a talented-but-underachieving Giants defense that features standouts such as Landon Collins, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins, Jason Pierre-Paul, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Olivier Vernon, Del Rio, an 11-year NFL veteran and former All-Pro, could be just the guy to turn that group’s fortunes around.