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Woody Paige: Mike McCoy should best Jack Del Rio, this time

September 30, 2017 Updated: October 1, 2017 at 12:31 pm
Caption +
Denver Broncos new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy makes a point during a news conference to showcase the new hires Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, at the team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. The new coaches said that the goal is to build on the strengths of the team's defense while enhancing the Broncos' anemic offense. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

In regard to life and football, some people don't know Jack. Mike does.

The paths of Mike McCoy and Jack Del Rio have intersected frequently over 16 seasons.

The last game Jack and Mike coached together lives in ignominy.

They must share in the blame for The Debacle in Denver that probably prevented the Broncos from reaching another Super Bowl.

In two years (33 games), a decade apart, McCoy and Del Rio were assistant coach mates - with the Panthers (2002) and the Broncos (2012). In eight other seasons they were on opposite sides once, twice, even three games.

As adversarial head coaches, Jack is 5-0 vs. Mike.

On Sunday afternoon McCoy and Del Rio will be on the same field for the 46th time in 38 combined seasons of coaching.

Who has the advantage - McCoy, the Broncos' offensive coordinator and former quarterback, or Del Rio, the Raiders' head coach and ex-linebacker?

"We both know a lot about each other,'' Del Rio once said of McCoy. "I think from that standpoint it's a wash.''

Wash, as being equal.

McCoy is with a team that depends on defense, while Del Rio leads a team that is reliant on its offense. Perhaps the emphasis should be on Broncos' defensive coordinator Joe Woods and Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing. Or, more so, Bill Musgrave, the guiding hand for Derek Carr in 2016 and Trevor Siemian's mentor this season.

Del Rio and McCoy have been around ... and back.

Jack and Mike are from Northern California (Del Rio Castro Valley, McCoy Novato) and played college ball in Southern California (Del Rio at USC and McCoy at Long Beach State). They are April-born guys. Jack is 54, Mike 45.

They met in 2002 in Charlotte, N.C., as members of new coach John Fox's staff. Del Rio was the Panthers' defensive coordinator, McCoy a young offensive assistant. That team lost eight straight.

Del Rio went on to the Jaguars as head coach, and McCoy became the Panthers' offensive coordinator.

After all three eventually were fired, they reunited with the Broncos in 2012 - as head coach, defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator. And they were fortunate to have two of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks ever - John Elway as the executive VP of football operations and Peyton Manning as the new QB. Although the Broncos lost three of the first five games, they didn't falter once the rest of the regular season (13-3) and were considered Super Bowl favorites.

McCoy was being squired by a half dozen teams as potential head coach, and Del Rio was on a fast track to return to head coaching.

Then, the playoff game, and the Ravens, happened.

The Broncos and Baltimore were tied at 28 after three quarters, but Manning threw a touchdown pass for the lead, and the Broncos had possession late in the fourth quarter. McCoy (and Fox) chose to run Ronnie Hillman five consecutive plays - lastly, on third-and-7 - and should have passed. The Broncos punted. And, on third down, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw a prayer. It was replied to. Del Rio's defense (particularly Rahim Moore) was burned badly for a touchdown with 31 seconds left.

Fox (presumably with McCoy's input) elected to have Manning take the most ostracized knee in Broncos history (until lately during the national anthem).

The Broncos were knocked out in the second overtime.

Because of the collapse, interest in Del Rio dissipated, but the Chargers hired McCoy, anyway.

In 2013, Mike and Jack confronted each other as top guns. Del Rio had become the interim head coach while Fox recovered from heart-related surgery. The Broncos won - and would win again in a playoff game.

At the conclusion of 2014, Fox was gone to the Bears and Del Rio to the Raiders.

In the past two seasons Del Rio's Raiders nudged McCoy's Chargers four times. McCoy was fired, and wound up back with the Broncos.

The Broncos lost to ex-offensive coordinator Rick Dennison last week.

This time, the former and current offensive coordinator beats the former defensive coordinator - just barely.

But Mike and Jack will be matched again Nov. 26 - and maybe in early January.

They know each other.

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