ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — As the Broncos approach a Week 17 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero will aim to help his unit rebound from a tough performance against the Rams.
Evero, though, could have had far more on his to-do list this week. The first-year defensive coordinator confirmed Thursday he was offered the Broncos' interim head-coaching position, but he chose to stay focused on his unit to help Denver's defense finish the season strong.
"I don't want to get into too much of the details, but at the end of the day, this is not a situation that any of us really wanted to be in," Evero said. "We just all agreed that the best thing for this team moving forward was for me to continue to work with the defense [and be] fully invested there, and I think that's where I can have the best value for this team."
Evero has certainly provided value for the Broncos in his current role. Prior to the Week 16 debacle against the Rams, the Broncos' defense ranked in the top three in scoring defense, interceptions, third-down percentage and red-zone percentage and in the top five in total defense and passing defense. Entering Week 17, Denver still remains in the top five in most defensive metrics.
"We were all very disappointed with how we performed, how we coached, how we played — and we are very confident that's not a reflection of who we are," Evero said. "Obviously when you have a performance like that, we've got to go back to the drawing board. We've got to see where things went wrong. We've got to all see where we can be better. That's the great thing about this group. It hasn't been perfect this year, but the one thing that we can count on is that they're going to respond the right way."
The Broncos have responded, certainly at least in part, because of Evero's ability to coach and lead. Denver's defense has earned Evero national attention as a possible future head coach, and Broncos General Manager George Paton said earlier this week the team hopes to interview him for their coaching vacancy.
While Evero did not explicitly say Thursday whether he plans to interview, he acknowledged those goals are common for most coaches.
"Yeah, I mean that's always an ambition," Evero said. "I would say most coaches always strive to attain that position, but I'm not worried about that right now. Right now I'm fully invested in this team. We've got two more games. We've got a great opportunity this week against Kansas City, and that's where I'm completely focused at."
If and when Evero does get a chance to be a head coach in the NFL, those around him are confident he has the necessary traits to find success.
"I just think he provides all the qualities you need as a coach," cornerback Pat Surtain II said. "Obviously he's a great leader. He's very outspoken. He brings a lot of energy to the room. He's just a great person in general, great people person. You can go to him for anything, and on the football field, he's just going to go out there and bring all the energy. He's going to do his best for the team."
Interim Head Coach Jerry Rosburg also pointed to Evero's top-notch communication skills as an important element of what makes him an impressive coach.
"He's a brilliant man," Rosburg said. "I've gotten to know him since my time here, and he's been very gracious to me from the very first day. His communication skills are of a high level. He's really good in dealing with his coaches and dealing with his players. He has leadership skills. He's not afraid to tell a coach what he thinks, and that's his job. He needs to tell the truth to these guys and also his players. He deals with them directly and he has a certain level of performance that he expects, and he's going to keep them to that. Those kind of coaches, to me, have a high ceiling, because there's a lot of different ways to do things. When you sit down in your beliefs and you want it to be a certain way, then you're open to other ideas, but when you make a decision that this is the way it's going to be, well then, this is the way it's going to be. He's got all those qualities."
While Evero will not lead the Broncos for the final two weeks, it may not be long before he guides a team of his own.
STANDING UP FOR A TEAMMATE
After practice, Jeudy expanded further on his comments, saying that he wanted to clarify Wilson's standing among his teammates.
"I'm just tired of reading things about my boy making it seem like, 'Oh, he's not a good teammate' and other unnecessary stuff that's not true," Jeudy said. "I just wanted to get it out in the air that he is a good teammate and he is a hardworking teammate. I just felt like I needed to get that out there, because there's a lot of false narratives going around here that I'm getting tired of seeing."
Jeudy also added that Wilson has kept him motivated this season and demonstrated how to act like a professional.
"Sometimes you [aren't] going to have the success that you want, but [even] with him knowing he's not having his best season, he's still working the same way as if he is having his best season," Jeudy said. "That's what I respect most about him."