Jack Del Rio is out as Washington Commanders defensive coordinator, a firing made Friday in the wake of another embarrassing loss.

Coach Ron Rivera dismissed Del Rio and defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer less than 28 hours after a 45-10 Thanksgiving Day drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.

“This was probably the thing that I felt was necessary to do to hopefully get out of this rut and get to a point where we can play to our abilities,” Rivera said on a video call with reporters. “It’s unfortunate, the situation and circumstances. But I did feel that a change was something that we needed to do going forward.”

The decision to make Del Rio and Vieselmeyer scapegoats for the season going sideways seems to ensure Rivera’s job is not in imminent danger despite the team being 4-8. The Josh Harris-led new ownership group is expected to make significant changes in January after the season is over.

Still, something had to give now after Rivera said things “snowballed” again at Dallas, leading to an eighth loss in 10 games since opening with back-to-back victories. He called Harris early Friday to make sure his boss was aligned with the decision and got the green light.

The Commanders have allowed 290 or more yards in 11 of 12 games this season and 30 or more points seven times. Their defense ranks 29th among 32 teams.


“The blame, we’re all culpable: players and coaches,” Rivera said. “We have to be better.”

Rivera is taking over the defensive play-calling duties, allowing him to defer even more to new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Cristian Garcia is being elevated to DBs coach to replace Vieselmeyer.

Del Rio was 12 games into his fourth season with Washington after Rivera hired him in 2020. The two, each a former linebacker, had no prior working relationship before this.

A head coach for 12 seasons with the Jaguars and Raiders, Del Rio had a stint with Washington that was marred by a comment he made during offseason workouts last year, comparing the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and the protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“People’s livelihoods are being destroyed, businesses are being burned down, no problem,” Del Rio said in June 2022. “And then we have a dust-up at the Capitol, nothing burned down, and we’re going to make that a major deal. I just think it’s kind of two standards.”

On the field, his unit was inconsistent from year to year and game to game. Washington’s defense ranked second in the NFL in 2020, 22nd in 2021 and third in 2022.


The Commanders had their moments defensively this season, mostly before trading pass rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat. But the lack of results ultimately cost Del Rio and Vieselmeyer their jobs.

“It’s not an indictment of Jack and Brent,” Rivera said. “It’s just, for whatever reason, it wasn’t coming together. We haven’t played as well as we would have liked to this season.”

BROWNS: Cleveland’s top-ranked defense is without its top cornerback.

Denzel Ward will miss Sunday’s game at Denver with a shoulder injury, leaving the Browns’ secondary vulnerable as it tries to contain quarterback Russell Wilson and the Broncos, who have won four straight games.

Ward, a two-time Pro Bowler, missed his third straight practice on Friday, and Coach Kevin Stefanski said the 26-year-old would sit this week with an injury sustained in last Sunday’s 13-10 win over Pittsburgh.

Stefanski wouldn’t predict how long Ward could be sidelined, and he didn’t know the exact play in which he got hurt.


Ward’s absence puts extra pressure on Cleveland’s secondary, which has been dealing with several injuries the past two weeks. With Ward out, the Browns likely will start Greg Newsome II and Martin Emerson Jr. at the corners, but they have other options.

“So next man up,” Stefanski said. “Guys got to step up. That’s the name of this game. Don’t have Denzel this week, but feel confident in the guys we do have.”

The Browns are allowing a league-low 143.7 yards passing.

Star defensive end Myles Garrett said it’s on Cleveland’s front seven to help the secondary and offset losing a player of Ward’s caliber.

“I mean they make it easier for us when they extend the amount of times the quarterback has to hold the ball,” he said. “We have to make their jobs easier by getting to them quickly, rush. No fanatical effort to keep on fighting. Extend plays and continue hunting.”

The Brown could have back starting safety Juan Thornhill, who returned to practice this week after missing two games with a calf injury. He’s listed as questionable.

“He’s making good progress,” Stefanski said. “I thought he moved around well.”

Starting linebacker and captain Anthony Walker Jr. made a surprise return to practice and is questionable with a hamstring injury sustained last week.

Stefanski ruled out wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (concussion). He’ll miss his third straight game after being hurt on Nov. 5 against Arizona.

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