On Sunday afternoon, the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders proved that there is no love lost between the two AFC West franchises. The fight between Denver cornerback Aqib Talib and Oakland wide receiver is garnering most of the national attention, but there also appears to be a budding rivalry between Denver head coach Vance Joseph and Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio.
In his post-game press conference, Del Rio called out Broncos safety Darian Stewart for his hit on wide receiver Amari Cooper during the second quarter of the Raiders’ 21-14 victory.
“It was a vicious hit,” Del Rio said (via NBC Sports Bay Area). “It’s the kind we’re trying to remove from our game, quite frankly. You see less and less of those. I’m sure the league will take a hard look at it. Those are the kinds of impact hits that don’t need to be a part of our game right now. The guy is clearly defenseless and got targeted right in the head. There’s a chance to hit in the strike zone and be somewhere else and not be there like that.”
On Monday afternoon, Joseph was given the chance to respond to Del Rio’s comments. The first-year head coach took the high road, but he also snuck in a subtle jab at Del Rio before moving on to the next question.
“Again, I’m not going to speak for the Raiders,” Joseph said. “As a coach, when things happen on the field you have to go back and watch the tape before you make comments like that. I will say that. There were four-five plays in that game that I didn’t like either, but I wouldn’t speak on that after a football game. I would go back and watch the tape and make sure that was what it was.
“Now, speaking about Stew’s play, Stew was trying to avoid the guy. Stew hurt himself avoiding hitting the kid in the neck and the head area. The ball was thrown way inside of the hash and it was thrown high, Stew went to make a play on the ball and the receiver ducked in my opinion. Stew pulled his head out to not make helmet-to-helmet contact and lowered his shoulder. Cooper’s head is under Darian’s elbow. To me, it was a good football play. So it was not a dirty play in my opinion. Again, I speak for our guys only.”
In case you missed it, here is a clip of the hit in slow motion.
Amari Cooper had a nasty collision with Darian Stewart, was down for quite a while pic.twitter.com/hSNhNq6tbi
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 26, 2017
Based off the video evidence, it’s clear that Del Rio should have held back his comments until he knew what he was talking about.