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'We want to be situational masters': What to expect from the Broncos' defense under DC Ejiro Evero

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In Ejiro Evero's 14 seasons in the NFL, he's worked under some of the game's brightest defensive minds.

Monte Kiffin. Dom Capers. Vic Fangio. Wade Phillips.

As Evero begins to piece together a system for the Broncos, the Broncos' new defensive coordinator will look to pull from all of those influences to build Denver into an elite unit.

The basics of the Broncos' defensive system will not change from the last three seasons; Denver will still run a 3-4 base defense with several different sub-packages. The details, though, won't be finalized until Evero is able to evaluate his roster and collect the suggestions of his defensive staff.

"There will be a lot of carryover from what these guys did last year, but at the end of the day … you've got to start with the evaluation of your players," Evero said Tuesday at his introductory press conference. "You've got to see who's on your roster, you've got to see what they do well and the scheme has got to fit your players. You can't go the other way around with that. There will be a lot of carryover, and I think players will be familiar with a lot of what we're going to present to them. We're going to always [start] with player first and then move into the scheme."

There will still be certain non-negotiables that Evero expects from his unit.

"When you talk about our philosophy on defense, we want to play with great energy," Evero said. "When people put our tape on, I want them to see a defense that's playing fast, that's playing aggressive, that's playing physical, we're flying around to the ball. Just like [OC Justin] Outten said, the biggest thing in football is the ball. We've got to be attacking the ball, and that's going to be a big point of our emphasis. We want to be situational masters. There's going to be all these situations, third down, red zone, two-minute — we want to own and dominate those situations. It's not just the coaches that are situational masters, but more so important that the players, so we're talking about playing with great energy and great physicality, talking about being up by the ball and we're talking about playing with situational awareness."

And Evero was clear about the Broncos need to create pressure. In 2021, the Broncos recorded 36 sacks, which ranked 18th in the league.

"You've got to affect the quarterback," Evero said. "If you can't get there with four [rushers], you've got to bring five. If you can't get there with five, you've got to bring six. So we'll bring pressure if we need to. That's just going to all depend on the rush. It's hard to say right now what exactly we're going to be. … This is going to be a collaboration. It's going to be something that we're going to build starting today. Once we get the roster finalized and all that, then we're truly going to know … what our identity's going to be in terms of coverages and pressure and the things that we're going to run. The great thing is, there's a lot of good coaches. I have a big background with a bunch of different people, so we've got a lot of things that we can fall back on and pull from, and we're going to take advantage of all that."

That background has helped prepare Evero for this moment, in which he'll lead an NFL defense for the first time in his career.

"It's exposed me to so much in terms of so many different schemes, so many different identities," Evero said. "It makes you realize there's a lot of different ways to get it done. The biggest thing about all those guys, the reasons they did had success is that they were great teachers, they had an identity, they stuck to that identity and they got the players to buy into it. That's the biggest thing that we want to get done and that's what we're going to get done here as well. The one thing I do realize as well is it's not just about me, it's about the entire defensive staff. … All of these guys are going to help us get this done. … It's a collaboration. It's not just one guy getting it done, and this collaboration's also going to lead with the players as well. Coaches, players collaborating to make a final product that is championship worthy."

And as Evero begins his tenure with the Broncos, he understands the standard that Broncos fans expect.

"[I] couldn't be more excited to be here with you guys and be here for this organization — talk about first class in every manner," Evero said. "Not just being here and experiencing it in the building these last couple days, but just hearing it over the years. This organization, this city is just such a standard in the NFL and couldn't be more excited to be here. At the end of the day we're here to win a championship, and that's the goal. We're going to fight to get that done. We're not going to settle for anything less.

"My part, along with all the defensive coaches, is to bring the championship-level defense, and we're going to strive every day and every moment to get that done."

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