The Broncos' defense has been one of the top-ranked units in the NFL this season, and its success has been driven by a group of young, up-and-coming coaches.
Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero said Thursday that he has been greatly impressed by the way the young coaches on his staff have embraced their heightened responsibilities. While experience is certainly a valuable trait in the league, Evero noted that every great NFL coach had to get their first opportunity at one point.
"They've done a phenomenal job," Evero said. "All the guys, though, at some point, every coach has to get an opportunity. People are always going to discount you when you don't have experience, which makes sense, but at some point, Coach [Bill] Belichick had to get his first chance. … That's just the nature of the beast, and you just have to be able to identify people that have those traits, have the work ethic, have the drive, have the love for the game, have the teaching ability and all of those different types of things. But [Defensive Line] Coach [Marcus] Dixon, all of our coaches, have done a heck of a job."
Like many of his colleagues who are leading a position group for the first time, Evero is in his first season as a defensive coordinator. While Evero is new to this role, Interim Head Coach Jerry Rosburg recently said that one the most impressive qualities about Evero is his ability to coach his coaches.
Taking an honest and tough approach with one's colleagues is no easy task for a first-time coordinator, but Evero noted that he uses the same process that he does with the team.
"I just think you develop relationships no differently than you do with players," Evero said. "You want to always be honest. Just the same approach I take with the players, it's like, I can't be the know-it-all either. If I'm not doing something right, or if somebody has a better idea, we've got to always do what's best. I think everybody gives value, and I think everybody's opinion should be considered."
Evero noted that while his staff includes several coaches with just a few years under their belt at the NFL level, he has two veteran coaches that bring decades of experience. Senior Defensive Assistant Dom Capers and Defensive/Special Projects Coach Bill Kollar have 36 and 34 years of NFL coaching experience, respectively, and Evero praised the knowledge and leadership they have brought to his staff.
"I've got to give a lot of love to Coach Dom and Coach Kollar, because even though we have a young staff, we do have some older guys, some veteran guys, who provide a lot of experience and wisdom, which has really helped guide us," Evero said.
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Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam earned a major opportunity in the Broncos' Week 17 game against the Chiefs, recording three receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. Offensive Coordinator Justin Outten noted that he was impressed by Okwuegbunam's performance, and the tight end's role will increase in the team's final game of the season.
"Albert did a really good job of stretching the field for us," Outten said. "He had the really big touchdown for us. He's a bigger-type receiver, very similar body type and position as [Greg] Dulcich. So, he's a guy that you can put out there in a position where he's a receiver, and they have to account for him — if they don't, just like they did in the red zone, he can create explosive plays and touchdowns. I'm excited to see his role expand this week."