Longtime Viking Dismissed by Commanders

Flashback Friday: Vikings Beat Commanders in 2019
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The Washington Commanders were thoroughly flogged on Thanksgiving by the rival Dallas Cowboys, so much so that a catalyst for change emerged.

Dallas thumped Washington, 45-10, an embarrassing loss for the Commanders, a club nearing mathematical elimination from the postseason by Turkey Day.

Longtime Viking Dismissed by Commanders

And after the beatdown, Washington had evidently seen enough on defense, firing defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio on Black Friday.

Viking Dismissed by
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Commanders head coach Ron Rivera — who could realistically be fired, too, in six weeks — announced Del Rio’s departure, “Today I relieved Jack Del Rio and Brent Vieselmeyer of their duties. I appreciate all that they contributed to the organization over the past four seasons and wish them all the best moving forward.”

Del Rio played for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992 to 1995, fetching a Pro Bowl Berth in 1994 while playing 57 games for the franchise and helping usher in the Dennis Green era.

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NBA Hall of Famer and partial Commanders owner Magic Johnson tweeted Thanksgiving night, “The Dallas Cowboys beat my Commanders 45-10. Dallas was a better football team tonight, plain and simple.”

So, Johnson was disgruntled, the team was going nowhere fast in 2023, and Rivera ended the Del Rio era in Washington on Friday morning. Change, indeed.

From 2020 to present, or Del Rio’s employment tenure in Washington, the Commanders ranked 13th leaguewide per defensive EPA/Play, meaning, once upon a time, Del Rio had the special sauce. This season, though, Washington ranked 31st via the same metric after Week 12. That was enough to prompt action from Rivera.

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Del Rio is 60 and probably owns a meaty enough resume to latch on elsewhere as a defensive coordinator next season. But in Washington, the franchise has undergone tremendous change per leadership since Dan Snyder sold the team, and more change could be afoot when the 2023 regular season is complete.

Rivera personally is reportedly on deck to inherit defensive coordinator responsibilities for the season’s remainder.

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Del Rio won a Super Bowl as a linebacker coach in 2000 with the Baltimore Ravens. That gig was a springboard to defensive coordinator jobs in Carolina (2002), Denver (2012-2014), and Washington (2020-2023). Del Rio was also the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars for nine seasons (2003-2011) and Oakland (Las Vegas Raiders) from 2015 to 2017.

The Vikings next play the Commanders in 2025 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.