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Five Things To Know About New Redskins Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio


New Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera has made the first big hire of his tenure by bringing in Jack Del Rio to be his defensive coordinator, the team announced Thursday morning.

Like Rivera, Del Rio is a former NFL linebacker who has had stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos, among others, in his two decades of coaching experience. He has been a head coach for 12 combined seasons, nine of which were with the Jaguars, where he led them to two playoff appearances.

The official announcement of Del Rio's hiring can be found, HERE. Below are five facts Redskins fans should know about their new defensive coordinator.

1. He was a two-sport athlete at USC.

Del Rio was a standout athlete when he played baseball and football at Hayward High School in Northern California. Like the rest of his career, he played linebacker and helped lead his team to a North Coast Section 2A Championship. He played catcher in baseball, but he did make one appearance as a pitcher and struck out 16 batters in a playoff game.

He continued to play both sports at USC and was a dynamic athlete for the Trojans on both fields. He was a four-year starter in football and was a two-time All-American, second-Team All-Pac-10 and was even a co-MVP of the 1984 Rose Bowl.

Del Rio's best season in baseball came in 1983 when he had 44 hits and 19 runs on 140 at-bats. He had four home runs and 29 RBIs with a .314 average with a .457 slugging percentage.

2. He was drafted by teams in three different leagues.

Before he was playing for the Trojans, Del Rio was actually courted by Major League Baseball. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 22nd round of the 1981 MLB Draft out of high school, but ultimately accepted a scholarship with USC.

After Del Rio's outstanding college career, he was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 1985 NFL Draft, but he was also selected by the Los Angeles Express in the third Territorial Draft of the United States Football League almost four months before he name was called by then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.

Del Rio ultimately chose the NFL over the fledgling USFL, and it didn't take long for him to make an impact with the Saints. He tied a franchise record with five fumble recoveries and earned a spot on the All-Rookie team.

Del Rio went on to play for five teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs, before ending his career with the Miami Dolphins in 1996.

3. He brings more Super Bowl experience to the coaching staff.

Del Rio was the strength and conditioning coach with the Saints for two seasons before being hired as the linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 1999. That is where Del Rio's reputation as a strong defensive coach started to grow.

In the three years that Del Rio was with in Baltimore, the Ravens' defense finished sixth, first and fourth in the league, respectively. In Del Rio's second season with the Ravens, which ended with the team's first Super Bowl championship, he had what is largely considered one of the best defenses of all time, allowing just 980 rushing yards and a 165 points in 16 games, both of which are NFL records.

The unit was full of talented players such as Rod Woodson and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis. A fourth-year player at that point, Lewis had one of his best seasons with 137 tackles (107 solo) and three sacks.

Lewis was a great player before Del Rio arrived in Baltimore, but his success leading the position can't be denied. And the work paid off, as he was hired away by the Carolina Panthers after the 2001 season to be the team's defensive coordinator for the first time in his career.

4. His defenses are known for being stingy.

Prior to Del Rio coaching for the Panthers, the team had one of the worst defenses in the league. They were 28th in points and even worse in yards allowed (31st).

Then Del Rio came to town, and things changed immediately. Despite having a 7-9 record, the Panthers boasted one of the league's best defense that year by finishing fifth in points allowed and second in yards allowed.

That turnaround earned him his first head coaching job with the Jaguars, and Del Rio's defenses continued to dominate opponents. The Jaguars were in the top 10 in points allowed -- seventh, sixth and fourth -- in three of his first four seasons. In terms of yards allowed, they were sixth in 2003 and 2005 and second in 2006.

Del Rio repeated that feat almost a decade later as the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. In his first season, the unit was second in yards allowed and fourth in points allowed, marking the fourth time in his career that his defense finished a season in the top 10 of both categories. The Broncos were in the bottom third of the league in both categories (20th in yards allowed, 24th in points allowed) before Del Rio took over.

The Redskins were the 27th overall defense in 2019, allowing 385 yards and 27 points per game. Based on Del Rio's resume, it's a situation he has dealt with before.

"Jack Del Rio walks through the door, and kids may not know as much about him, but they will immediately sense that they should," Fox NFL analyst Charles Davis said to The Washington Post. "For a team that's trying to get on its feet, to have that kind of professionalism walk through the door and present itself every day, it's a big deal."

5. He has had elite pass rushers at his disposal as a defensive coordinator.

When Del Rio joined the Panthers in 2002, one of the first moves the team made was giving him defensive end Julius Peppers by way of the second-overall pick in the NFL Draft. He had 35 total tackles, five forced fumbles and 12 sacks.

Ten years later, Del Rio joined the Broncos as the defensive coordinator and got another great edge rusher with another second-overall pick. This time it was outside linebacker Von Miller, who has been one of the most unstoppable pass rushers since he came into the NFL in 2012. Miller had 11.5 sacks, 64 total tackles and 29 quarterback hits.

Now, as Del Rio becomes a defensive coordinator for the third time in his career, the Redskins are in position to get a top pass rusher with the second-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is claimed by the majority of draft experts to be the best overall prospect in this year's draft class, regardless of position, should he forego his senior year with the Buckeyes. Young finished his junior season with 35 tackles, 16.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.

Young has not decided whether he will return to Ohio State, and the Redskins have plenty of options with the pick. However, if Young is available when the team is on the clock, it should be tempting for the Redskins to draft him. And based on Del Rio's success with top edge rushers, Young would be set to have an immediate impact.

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