At this time a year ago, the Oakland Raiders were cheering the end of their playoff drought. Now, they're in the market for a new head coach.
"We appreciate Jack's effort in building the foundation of this team for the future," Davis said in a statement released by the team. "Thank you to Jack, his wife, Linda, and his daughter, Aubrey, for their important contributions to the Raiders and our local community in Oakland. We wish them all the best."
Del Rio, who received a four-year contract extension from the Raiders in February, posted a 25-24 mark (including 0-1 in the playoffs) with the franchise. That record was buoyed by a 12-4 finish in 2016, a season in which Derek Carr and the Raiders' offense was one of the highest-flying in the league. An injury ended Carr's season prematurely and resulted in a quick postseason exit, but optimism remained high entering 2017.
The highs of the season -- signing Marshawn Lynch, who came out of retirement to play for his hometown team, and a thrilling Thursday Night Football win over the Chiefs -- were few and far between, and never came close to matching the excitement produced by 2016. With a presumed franchise quarterback in place and plenty of money invested in its offensive line, though, Davis had to feel compelled to make a change after watching his team trudge through much of the season, playing uninspired football that was much more reminiscent of the decade that preceded 2016 than the campaign that produced a postseason appearance. That presumed title window is only open for so long.
What the Raiders do now will be the subject of much intrigue and scrutiny. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday that the Raiders were pursuing former coach Jon Gruden -- whom the Raiders once traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before losing to him in the following Super Bowl -- to replace Del Rio. Gruden currently works as the color commentator for ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcasts.
Oakland signed Del Rio to a four-year extension after 2016's success, making this move more of an eyebrow-raiser, especially seeing as it was made just minutes after the conclusion of the Raiders' Week 17 game. For a franchise that was so committed to a coach after a successful season, it did quite the 180 in firing him less than a year later. The swiftness of such a decision seems to indicate the next step isn't far from being completed, though we'll wait to see what unfolds as the Raiders creep closer toward their move to Las Vegas.