ASHBURN — Washington coach Ron Rivera said Saturday he plans on having defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio assume head coaching duties if his recent skin cancer diagnosis prevents him from attending practice or games.
Del Rio was the logical choice as the 57-year-old previously led the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders. He also served as the interim for the Denver Broncos in 2013, when coach John Fox missed a month because of heart surgery.
Rivera plans on coaching while receiving treatment — 35 sessions over the next seven weeks — but acknowledged there may be times when Del Rio has to step in.
“I have a great saying that I really do appreciate. It’s called ‘Don’t draw me a map unless you’ve been there,’ and Jack’s been there,” Rivera said. “He’s been helpful, he really has. … Now with this circumstance and situation we have, his value for us is even more so.”
Rivera said he appreciates Del Rio’s insight, relying on the two-time coach. Rivera has often discussed that one of his first mistakes in Carolina was that he didn’t have a former head coach on his staff. He said Del Rio has already made suggestions that he has implemented.
Rivera has maintained his cancer was caught early and is treatable. But Rivera said he understands the significance of “how tough it’s going to be.”
“Plan B will be implemented on those days where I will struggle,” Rivera said. “Believe me, I’m not being rosy about this. I’m being honest. I know I’m going to struggle. Those days that I do, I’m going to have to ask the coaches to step up and have to ask the players to step up and take ownership.”