One of the very few positives for the Denver Broncos this season has been the arrival of Ejiro Evero as one of the foremost defensive coordinators and young minds in the NFL.

In a sick twist of fate, Evero has been such an incredible defensive play-caller, that the Broncos are now in danger of losing of him, as he’s become a trendy head coaching candidate.

It’s easy to understand why too.

Ejiro Evero took over a defense that was run by defensive forefather Vic Fangio, and dramatically improved it, despite losing his top two safeties, top four edge rushers, No. 2 and No. 3 cornerbacks, and starting inside linebacker (just to name a few). The Broncos went from ranking 21st in weighted defensive DVOA in 2021, to ranking third in 2022.

He’s also been an innovator, with his creative pressure fronts, who has pushed forward some of the NFL’s cutting-edge defensive ideas. Simulated pressures — a relatively new defensive concept that sends only four rushers to maintain their coverage numbers, but sends their pass rushers from unexpected locations, to still create free rushers and isolated matchups — have taken the league by storm in 2022, and no one has utilized them more or more effectively than Evero.

Now, the national media is taking notice. In a Thursday article, NFL insider Tom Pelissero listed Evero as one of his top 22 coaching candidates to monitor for the upcoming cycle.

“Evero’s defense has been a bright spot in a frustrating season for Denver, allowing 19 points or fewer in eight of nine games,” Pelissero wrote. “Born in Colchester, England, Evero grew up in California, played safety at UC-Davis and signed with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent (they released him a few months later) before embarking on a coaching career. He has coached all three phases — offense, defense and special teams — at various spots and been well regarded at each stop over 15 NFL seasons, including the past five with the Rams, winning a Super Bowl last season as Los Angeles’ secondary coach/passing game coordinator. This is still just Evero’s first year as an NFL coordinator, but he doesn’t get rattled and has shown a knack for adjusting on game day. Learning from the likes of Vic Fangio in San Francisco, Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers in Green Bay and Sean McVay with the Rams has given Evero a unique blend of perspectives.”

Now, although Evero is sure to be an attractive candidate for teams in need of a head coach, it seems there’s still a good chance the Broncos could retain him.

DeMeco Ryans, Jonathan Gannon, and Dan Quinn are all coaching candidates with a defensive background, and all of them are likely ahead of Ejiro Evero in line.

All have more experience as a coordinator, and all of them took interviews, and reportedly interviewed well, just last season. Ryans did well enough to earn a second interview from the Vikings, which he turned down; Gannon earned a second interview with the Houston Texans, and was reportedly a finalist for the Broncos job at one point; while Quinn was undeniably a finalist for the Broncos job, earned a second interview, and appears to be the front-runner this year.

Only once in the last five coaching cycles have four defensive-minded coaches been hired, and none of those times featured three first-timers.

Evero’s a future head coach, but that time might not come until 2024.

If this isn’t his year, how could Denver keep him around, while moving on from Nathaniel Hackett?

Well, they’ve got the richest ownership group in all of American professional sports. In the past, Jerry Jones has given front-office guru and vice president of player personnel Will McClay substantial pay raises to keep him in Dallas, even as teams in need of a general manager have come knocking. The Walton-Penner group could do something similar, at least in theory.

But would the next head coach be ok with it?

Well, Dan Quinn, the favorite to get the job, handed defensive play-calling duties off multiple times while he was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, and every time he did, the defense improved. He’s a marvelous leader of men, but it seems one of the lessons from his first coaching tenure was that someone else should call the defensive plays. That makes a continued relationship with Ejiro Evero feasible.

The fact Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright, of 850KOA, is already suggesting the likelihood, makes it feel even more possible.

Frank Reich is another name that has been mentioned a lot in connection with the Denver Broncos, and it should be noted that when he was hired with the Colts, he was forced to work with a defensive coordinator he neither hired nor had a prior relationship with, and they worked brilliantly together.

Finally, Gannon has once again been named as a potential favorite for the Broncos’ head coaching job. As a young, up-and-coming defensive mind, it might be hard to see him working with Ejiro Evero, but if you look at the Eagles, where he’s coming from, it becomes easier. Philadelphia got off to a slow start under Nick Sirianni, but when he handed play-calling duties off to offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, the offense caught fire, and the Eagles have been one of the NFL’s better teams ever since. One would hope that lesson was instructive to Gannon as to how he should handle his first opportunity as a head coach.

It’s clear that there’s an excellent chance Ejiro Evero will be coaching elsewhere in 2023, but don’t give up hope yet Broncos Country. There’s still a better-than-expected chance he remains in Denver.