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Jack Del Rio key to Broncos-Raiders rival revival

Zac Stevens Avatar
November 4, 2016

 

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Despite the Denver Broncos recent domination of the Oakland Raiders—7-1 since the start of the 2012 season—the old heated rivalry of the AFC West seems to be heating back up, much in part to one man: Jack Del Rio.

“I think he boosted [the rivalry] a lot,” Broncos corner Chris Harris Jr. said. “He gave Oakland confidence. I think Jack has really changed that team, changed their mindset. You can tell by the way they play, the way the quarterback plays. You have to tip your cap to the way Jack Del Rio has coached that team.”

Del Rio, the current Raiders head coach, left the defensive coordinator position with the Broncos to take over the Raiders immediately following the Broncos 24-13 playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts to end the 2014 season. Although many members of the current Broncos were not on the team with Del Rio, the veterans made sure to explain the significance of this rivalry and game.

“I think everyone here knows the importance of the rivalry, especially the younger guys, the veterans’ made sure,” rookie safety Justin Simmons said.

Now, more than a year after Del Rio took over a division rival, he is starting to revive one of the great rivalries in the game.

“We’ve never liked the Raiders,” safety T.J. Ward said. “We just don’t like them.”

During his three-year stint with the Broncos, from the start of the 2012 season through the end of the 2014 season, Del Rio was a major piece in the Broncos organization. Not only was he in charge of the defense that finished fourth in points allowed in 2012, but he also took over the team in 2013 as interim head coach for four weeks in John Fox’s absence.

Potentially more important than Del Rio’s history with the Broncos is the success that he has brought to the Raiders organization, especially in the first half of this season as the Raiders sit at 6-2.

“Them being good now just raises up the stakes to another level of a championship game,” Harris said.

Prior to this season, the Raiders hadn’t had a winning season since 2002, when they went 11-5 and lost the Super Bowl. That’s 13 seasons without a winning season. To put that in perspective, in that same 13-year span the Broncos had eight winning seasons. Since the Raiders are starting to win, they are starting to talk, according to Harris.

“They’ve been talking a lot all offseason, so I can see why there is a little hate,” he said.

Now, not only does it seem as if the Raiders will have a winning season, they are proving to be one of the Broncos’ greatest threats.

“The stakes have never been this high going into Oakland,” Harris said. “To go in there with an AFC West championship on the line, and also them being good and going against Jack, that build up right there is going to be great.”

The Broncos haven’t lost any love for Del Rio, and the greatest revenge they can get is a win in the black hole in primetime on Sunday Night Football.

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