The Washington Commanders fired defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer on Friday.
The moves came a day after the defense struggled again in a 45-10 Thanksgiving Day loss at the Dallas Cowboys. Washington allowed 290 or more yards in 11 of 12 games this season and 30 or more points seven times.
The Commanders defense ranks 29th among 32 teams.
“Today I relieved Jack Del Rio and Brent Vieselmeyer of their duties," coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. “I appreciate all that they contributed to the organization over the past four years and wish them all the best moving forward.”
The latest defeat dropped the team to 4-8 in its first season under new ownership. The Commanders have lost eight of 10 since opening the season with back-to-back victories.
Rivera could take over the defensive play-calling duties, which would allow him to defer even more to new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Rivera’s own future is uncertain beyond this season, with Josh Harris’ ownership group expected to make significant changes.
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.
“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.
Rivera is expected to address the changes during a video call with reporters later Friday.