Denver, CO, United States (4E Sports) – The Denver Broncos have named defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio as the team’s interim head coach while coach John Fox recovers from surgery to replace a valve in his heart.
The move was expected since Del Rio has the most experience in the Broncos coaching staff. He was the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach for nine seasons until he was fired with five games remaining in the 2011 season.
Del Rio was 69-73 with Jacksonville and led the Jaguars to the playoffs twice as a wild-card team. He is expected to maintain play-calling duties with the defense while he is interim coach.
The 58-year-old Fox will undergo aortic valve replacement surgery early this week at a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Fox became dizzy while playing golf near his offseason home in the Charlotte area Saturday and was taken to a hospital. Further tests revealed that he needs to have immediate surgery.
“I sincerely appreciate all of the support from friends, Denver Broncos fans and so many around the league today,” Fox said in a statement released by the team.
“Although I am disappointed I must take some time away from the team to attend to this pre-existing health condition, I understand that it’s the right thing to do. I have great confidence in our coaches and players, who are fully committed to our goals,” he added.
Fox also looks forward to return to coaching “as soon as possible”.
The 50-year-old Del Rio joined Fox’s staff for the 2012 season to replace Dennis Allen, who left to become the Oakland Raiders’ coach.
With Del Rio’s help, the Broncos placed fourth in scoring defense last season and No. 2 defense in terms of yards allowed per game.
Del Rio played 11 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints.
Offensive coordinator Adam Gase and special-teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers will continue to oversee those units, and the Broncos could move one additional coach to the sideline on game day in Fox’s absence.