DENVER — Smothering media and meddling Twitter can't shake one of the oldest rules in professional sports:
What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.
With the Broncos there is one exception to the rule: their defensive coordinator. The man holding that title at Dove Valley might be in the locker room. But he won’t stay there.
You don't need 140 characters to tweet an explanation for Denver’s inconsistency on defense: "6 DCs in 6 yrs." It’s no wonder Enver often has been a football city without a D.
If he wants, Jack Del Rio will keep that streak intact. He will make it seven defensive coordinators in seven years. Denver’s defensive coordinator has been dynamic.
And when the Broncos' season is over — long after Sunday's game against Cleveland at Sports Authority Field — another franchise will want him as its head coach.
"I just don't know how long he's going to be around,” said Champ Bailey, who has an eye for these things. He's played for 11 defensive coordinators in 14 NFL seasons.
Del Rio should be a hot name. Not simply because of the numbers his defense is posting: No. 2 against the run, No. 8 against the pass, No. 2 in sacks, No. 3 against third-down conversions, No. 4 in total defense. Not because he’s instilled pride on a defense that throws a fit when it allows garbage-time touchdowns against San Diego, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
"That's not what we stand for,” Bailey said.
He should be a hot name also because of how the veterans in the locker room feel about Del Rio. Younger players can be impressionable and have their perspective adjusted by playing time or tough-love coaching. Veterans know real recognizes real.
“He just gets it,” 15th-year linebacker Keith Brooking said. “I don’t mean he just gets it schematically and putting you in position to make the right plays. But he knows when to push or when to lay off. I think that comes from being a player in this league.
“I really respected him from afar. Then to be able to play for him, it’s just a pleasure.”
A fifth-year player, Wesley Woodyard said, “We look up to the Orange Crush defense. It would definitely give us that mentality (if Del Rio sticks around). Hopefully he’s here for a few years.”
Don’t show these kind words to the front offices in San Diego, Kansas City or Oakland. John Fox is the only coach in the AFC West who can settle in. And keep this away from Cleveland, Buffalo, Philly, Carolina and New York (the bumbling Jets), if not others.
“It would suck for us because we have to start all over again, but it is what it is,” Bailey said.
Not all of those teams will fire their coaches or tap on Del Rio’s door. But a few will fire their coaches and show some level of interest.
Two factors will give Del Rio and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy another spin on the coaching carousel: Denver’s wild success and the wild turnover expected all over the NFL.
“My wife and I and the kids, we absolutely love Denver. So we’ll see what happens,” McCoy said. “If it’s meant to be it will be; if not, hey, we can stay here for a long time.”
Broncos fans should hope for the latter. The ‘D’ is young enough at key positions to build a Ravens-like unit for years to come — with the right coordinator. The ‘O’ has the line and playmakers around Manning to continue its growth — with the right coordinator.
“I think through this year, we’ve found our identity,” wide receiver Eric Decker said.
Woodyard, a linebacker, was asked if he has watched any film from the playing career of Del Rio, a former linebacker.
“I haven’t checked out any recently,” Woodyard said. “I’ve heard a lot about him. I heard he was a physical, downhill player. The way he speaks and the way he carries himself, you can tell he was a man out there on the football field.”
Soon enough Del Rio will be a man on the move.
What happens in Denver’s DC office doesn’t stay there.
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