A familiar face will be stalking the opposing sidelines on Sunday as the Chiefs take on the Washington Football Team. Jack Del Rio is the defensive coordinator for Washington, and he has quite a history with and against the Chiefs. From 2012 to 2017, Del Rio faced Kansas City twice annually as either a head coach or a coordinator. And if you keep going back further, you’ll find that he donned a Chiefs uniform back in the ’80s, as well.
Perhaps most importantly, Del Rio has never had to come up with a gameplan for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. That in itself will prove to be the litmus test for him in this game. Del Rio will take the field with a proud, but underwhelming defense that ranked second last year in the NFL in total yards allowed.
This season, they’re off to a terrible start, ranking 27th. Like the Chiefs, the Football Team has been carved up by Justin Herbert and Josh Allen, and the team has amassed just 9 sacks and 2 interceptions.
The Chiefs last squared off against Del Rio in 2017, when he was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. As a former NFL linebacker, Del Rio’s specialty is of course the defense, but in his three years as head coach, his defenses never ranked higher than 22nd in the NFL. During that stint, his Raiders were just 1-5 vs Andy Reid‘s Chiefs. There was quite a rise after one game in which the two coaches appeared to snub each other in a post-game handshake, but it ended up being a shortened clip of a more friendly greeting than was advertised.
Prior to that stint in Oakland, Del Rio was the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. Reid and Del Rio also faced each other several times in the early 2000s, when the two were head coaches of Philadelphia and Jacksonville, respectively.
Del Rio played outside linebacker for Kansas City from 1987-1988. It was his departure that led, at least in part, to the Chiefs selecting a linebacker in the 1989 draft by the name of Derrick Thomas.