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Mile High Sports

Keeping Del Rio will be nice win for the Broncos

Success breeds opportunity. And very few in the Broncos organization are enjoying the AFC’s top seed more than offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. This guy, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, “is a very, very hot name right now.”

McCoy was immediately linked to the Bears job, just moments after Love Smith was fired, while the Bills, Cardinals and Eagles are reportedly interested in him, as well. And this isn’t the first time he’s been a wanted man. He interviewed with Miami last year and also turned down an interview with Oakland.

Whether you believe McCoy is responsible for the Broncos high-powered offense or not, one thing about him is undeniable: He’s shown a willingness to adapt to the strengths of his quarterbacks. He completely overhauled the Broncos offensive playbook at midseason last year for Tim Tebow and turned his offense into the top rushing team in the league. Then, McCoy burned the playbook to accommodate Peyton Manning.

Mike is the Real McCoy in most NFL circles and it should surprise no one the Broncos have done their homework on potential candidates to fill his job. What is surprising is they likely won’t have to check their notes on potential defensive coordinator candidates.

Never has the No. 7 been so lucky. Despite seven heading coaching openings, Jack Del Rio might snap a streak of seven defensive coordinators in seven years for the Broncos.

When I spoke with Del Rio during training camp, I left with the feeling he wasn’t looking at Denver as a stepping stone.

“Because I was a head coach for nine years, I’m not obsessed with being a head coach again. I’m not obsessed with moving on. If it ever happens, great. But I’m really trying to be in the moment,” Del Rio told me in August.

And he’s made the most of his moment, turing the Broncos defense into a powerhouse with an attitude this city hasn’t seen since 1977.

“The guys who approach it that way (with an attitude) are going to play more,” Del Rio added from our conversation last summer. “The guys who don’t approach it that way are going to have a tough time staying here for long because that’s what we’re building. We’re going to keep pushing for it, keep demanding it, and keep rewarding those that give it to us and make life difficult for those that don’t.”

You would think any team would jump at the chance to hire a guy with this attitude, but it looks like Del Rio will get passed over. While still relatively young at 49, he’s no longer a hot commodity like McCoy or Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.

McCoy is a hotter candidate than Del Rio because he’s never been a head coach. Teams know what Del Rio can do. At Jacksonville, His overall coaching record was under .500 and during his nine years on the job the Jaguars only went to the playoffs twice. With all due respect to Del Rio, very few teams would bang down the door to get a guy with this résumé.

One longtime NFL executives told me last summer, “I’d be surprised if there’s a lot of interest in Del Rio next off season no matter how much he improves the Broncos defense.”

The Bears, Browns, Cardinals, Bills, Eagles, Chiefs and Chargers loss is the Broncos gain. It doesn’t appear Del Rio will be a one-hit wonder in Denver, and I believe he’s happy with that. He’s not a bigger, better deal type of guy. Oh sure, it’s flattering to be considered for a head coaching job, but Del Rio just wants to be coaching in the NFL no matter what capacity it is. His been-there-done-that attitude is refreshing.

When the season began, the popular belief was Del Rio would be overwhelmed with job offers if he turned around the defense. But as I wrote last summer, Del Rio would only leave for the right opportunity and if the Broncos were going to lose one of their coordinators, the smart money would be on McCoy.

McCoy is as good as gone, but the offense will keep its continuity because of Manning. Del Rio is likely staying, giving a guy like Elvis Dumervil, who’s spent his entire career in Denver since being drafted in 2006, continuity he’s never had.

The Broncos are about to suffer their first loss since Oct. 7, when McCoy eventually takes a head coaching job. But it’s fair to say that keeping Del Rio is one of their biggest and most unlikely wins of the season.

Eric Goodman hosts Afternoon Drive with Mac and Goodman from 3p-6p Monday through Friday on Mile High Sports Radio (AM1510 | FM 93.7).

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