With the armada of former NFL players, coaches, and executives that ESPN has hired as studio analysts in recent years, you could be excused if you missed a few here and there. The carousel continues to turn as players retire and go into television, while coaches and executives bounce from the TV studio back to the league when openings become available.
The latest to make the jump back to coaching is Jack Del Rio, who often appeared as an analyst on ESPN’s NFL Live, in addition to SportsCenter and ESPN Radio. Del Rio will be the defensive coordinator for new Washington Redskins coach Ron Rivera, which was officially announced on Wednesday.
Dan Orlovsky, who often sat next to Del Rio on the NFL Live studio set, praised his now-former colleague on Twitter upon that return to coaching:
To all the @Redskins fans. every Wednesday this season I worked with @coachdelrio for NFLLIVE. I promise you you’re getting a coach that’s ready & locked in. Every week he would sit and study tape and talk about what the D was doing well or not-passionately. GREAT HIRE
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 2, 2020
Del Rio joined ESPN in August 2019, after a year away from football following his dismissal as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. At the time, he certainly sounded like a return to coaching was possible, if not imminent.
“I haven’t said I am done coaching,” Del Rio told the AP’s Joe Reedy. “This allows me to still talk about and cover the game while reviewing game tape and providing an opinion.”
Four months of reviewing game tape and providing analysis were apparently the right amount of time Del Rio needed before getting back into the coaching game. He was apparently quite familiar with the Redskins’ personnel, immediately telling reporters that the team would switch from a 3-4 alignment to a 4-3 scheme that would better utilize the defensive lineman that Washington already has on its roster.
In addition to being a head coach with the Raiders for three seasons, Del Rio was also the top man on the sidelines for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003 to 2011. He also served as a defensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos in between those head coaching gigs.
If and when Del Rio’s time with Washington’s coaching staff ends, it appears that he’s welcome to return to ESPN judging by the praise from his colleagues in Bristol.
— Dianna (@diannaESPN) January 1, 2020
Congrats to @coachdelrio. Enjoyed getting to know him during his time as an ESPN analyst this year. Our team will miss him but a great hire for Washington to lead their defense. #HTTR pic.twitter.com/X34VRnpph3
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) January 2, 2020