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Evero, Outten, Stokes bring energy and humility to Broncos

First-timers embrace challenge of executing U-turn in Denver
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Posted at 7:02 PM, Feb 22, 2022

ENGLEWOOD — Tuesday's mood represented quite the juxtaposition from the end of the Broncos' season.

Joy replaced dour.

As coach Nathaniel Hackett introduced his new staff, including coordinators Ejiro Evero (defense), Justin Outten (offense) and Dwayne Stukes (special teams), the atmosphere felt part pep rally, part press conference. The coaches joining from the Rams — Evero, Stukes and defensive line boss Marcus Dixon — received applause for their Super Bowl win.

Hackett introduced every member of his soon-to-be 24-man staff in the audience and explained how he settled on this group. He sought coaches with character, who can teach and be efficient — goodbye binders, hello paperless world.

"And we wanted guys with humility. Coaches will tell you they know everything, but they don't," Hackett said.

Evero brings experience as an overqualified secondary coach. He has learned from defensive stalwarts like Monte Kiffin, Vic Fangio, Wade Phillips and Dom Capers, who will serve as a senior adviser. Evero told Denver7 he plans to call plays from the sidelines and that he goes by Coach E. He inherits a strong returning defense that featured some hollow parts — most notably a lack of takeaways (19, ranking 21st) and sacks (36, tied for 18th).

"We want to play with great energy. When people put our tape on, I want people to see us playing fast, playing aggressive, playing physical and flying around to the ball," said Evero, who will likely lean on zone coverage, but he talked about blitzing more than previous Broncos' defenses.

"The biggest thing in football is the ball. We have to be constantly attacking the ball. That's going to be a point of emphasis. And we want to be situational masters — third down, red zone. We want to dominate those situations."

Outten arrives with a new title, but a different role than Evero. Outten will help craft game plans during the week, but Hackett will call the plays. He will serve as the voice in Hackett's head. He echoed that Hackett is comfortable making people uncomfortable, and will hold coaches accountable. That will be important as the Broncos aim to revive an offense that has been the equivalent of an iPhone in a bed of rice since 2016.

"Offensively, we’re looking for 11 men to step foot on that field, put their pride aside and egos aside and play as one. For this system to run the way it should be, everyone has to just dedicate their time and effort into the good of the team. Everyone has a responsibility — no matter if they’re a starter or a backup — to uphold that standard offensively. The ball is everything, and you’re going to hear that over and over again. When you win the turnover battle — plus one, you’re at 72 percent win percentage. Then if you’re plus two, it goes up to 82 percent. That ball is everything in this offense," Outten said.

"We are going to make it look very complex for the defense, but keep it simple for our guys so they can play fast. The goal is to identify each guy's talent and make it come to life on Sundays."

Stukes, perhaps, has the lowest bar to succeed. The Broncos have ranked among the league's worst special teams units for five years, particularly on kickoff coverage and returns. Broncos Insider Troy Renck asked Stukes about what he expects from his first group.

"For me, it’s about consistency. It’s easy to make splash plays on all phases, but you want guys that can play at a consistent level, and we expect those guys to play at a high level. Not just to field 11 guys—that’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to raise the standard and build a culture around here where guys are excited to take part in special teams. It’s a we — not me — mentality," Stukes said.

"In order for us to get to where we want to get to, everybody has to buy in and play special teams- regardless of their role on the team. It might be one guy that plays in one phase, but obviously the more talented guys we have on the field, the better we’ll be on special teams.”