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Commanders fire defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in wake of blowout loss to Cowboys

In the aftermath of a Thanksgiving blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Commanders shook up the coaching staff.

The Commanders have fired defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Friday, per sources informed of the decision.

Washington also fired defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero added.

The Commanders later confirmed the moves.

"This morning, I spoke with Coach (Ron) Rivera and he recommended that the team make changes at defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. I accepted those recommendations and want to thank Jack and Brent for their contributions to the Commanders. We wish them and their families well moving forward," Commanders owner Josh Harris said in a statement on Friday.

"I feel exactly how our fans feel today: disappointed and frustrated. It's how our players and staff feel as well. I knew our first season of ownership would include challenges along the way, and we will not shy away from hard work, nor will we be deterred by adversity. As Coach Rivera and I discussed, all of our energy for the remainder of the season will be focused on playing better, more consistent football and developing our players while intently evaluating the areas in which we need to improve this offseason. Our fans deserve a team that can complete with the NFL's best and win sustainably over the long-term. I will not waver from that mission. Thank you to our fans for the ways in which you've breathed new life into our franchise. We have not been good enough this season, but our resolve for the future is unbroken."

Rivera is expected to take over a bigger role in the defensive play-calling for the season's final six weeks, per Rapoport.

Following Thursday's 45-10 loss in Dallas, Rivera dismissed questions about whether he could make any staff changes, saying, "I'm not going to get into any of that stuff." Hours later, the DC is out in DC.

"I did feel like change was necessary to shake some things up and get things moving forward," Rivera said later Friday in his press conference. "It's one of those things that as you watch things happen last night, it just kind of snowballed. I was concerned."

The shakeup comes after two brutal losses, getting beat by double-digits by the New York Giants -- who started third-string quarterback Tommy DeVito this past Sunday -- and Thursday's embarrassment in Dallas.

The Commanders' defense has struggled all season, allowing the most points in the NFL and giving up an NFL-high 28 touchdown passes. In 12 games, Washington has allowed 4,532 yards and 350 points.

Del Rio joined Washington's staff with Rivera in 2020. In three-plus seasons, the Commanders' defense has been a rollercoaster. In 2020 and 2022, the D finished in the top 10 in points and yards allowed. In 2021 and 2023, they were among the worst groups in the NFL.

After shipping out star defensive ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat at the trade deadline, firing Del Rio and Vieselmeyer is the latest change in Washington.

Rivera dismissed concerns about his own job status on Thursday, as the Commanders dropped the eighth of their past 10 games after a 2-0 start to the season.

With a new owner in Harris at the helm, the midseason moves are a harbinger of significant changes potentially coming in the offseason.

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