New head coach Nathaniel Hackett continues to add young coaches to his staff. On Thursday, the Denver Broncos formally announced the hiring of three coaches, all formerly of the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
The first-time head coach officially added Ejiro Evero as defensive coordinator, Dwayne Stukes as special teams coordinator, and Marcus Dixon as defensive line coach.
All three align with Hackett’s desire to bring youth and energy into the Broncos facility. Evero will be counted on heavily to not only maintain the Broncos defensive output but elevate its play. The Broncos defense simply has not created enough turnovers in the past several seasons, so that should be a focus, one would hope.
Additionally, Stukes and Dixon take over units that underperformed in 2021. Stukes is tasked with turning around a special teams unit that has been the butt of jokes in Broncos Country under former coordinator Tom McMahon. Dixon takes over a group that struggled to generate a consistent pass rush in 2021.
Ejiro Evero brings intrigue and excitement to the Broncos defense
Evero joins the Broncos as a first-time defensive play-caller at the NFL level. However, Evero arrives with 14 seasons of NFL experience. Evero has worked under Wade Phillips, Brandon Staley and Rahim Morris over the last five seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. Before that, Evero worked under Dom Capers and even Vic Fangio.
In a pass-first league, having a coordinator who excels in understanding the back end of the defense can be invaluable.
As the secondary coach and pass game coordinator (2021), and safeties coach (2017-20), Evero got production out of his units. In 2021 Rams intercepted 19 passes, compared to Denver’s 13. Additionally, the Rams defense was fifth in the league in passer rating against at 83.8, ahead of the Broncos who were sixth.
In the playoffs, the Rams pass defense shined, only yielding 222 yards per game in the air. An impressive feat considering the Rams played the Cardinals, Buccaneers, 49ers, and Bengals on their way to a victory in Super Bowl LVI.
Will Evero stick with the Broncos’ current scheme or create something of his own?
Evero’s familiarity with the previous Broncos defensive scheme under Fangio could help the current players adapt. Working under Fangio from his time in San Fransico and with Staley just a few seasons ago provides Evero a clear picture of how the in-vogue match-quarters system can be successful.
However, it is unclear what Evero’s philosophy will be. He also worked under the man-to-man, heavy pressure scheme used by Phillips. Both schemes have yielded top defenses.
Dwayne Stukes hired to fix Broncos woes on special teams
Stukes has worked for a variety of NFL teams in his 14 years of coaching. After stops with six organizations, Stukes joins the Broncos after just one season as assistant special teams coach with the Rams.
Previously, he has also worked with Jacksonville Jaguars (2019-20), New York Giants (2016-17), Chicago Bears (2013-14), Dallas Cowboys (2012), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2006-11) in a variety of roles.
This season, Stukes assisted in a special teams unit that ranked fifth in both punt return average (11.3) and punt return average against (6.7). Areas in which the Broncos have struggled mightily over the last several seasons.
The Rams ranked fourth in special teams DVOA in 2021 according to Football Outsiders. Stukes will be counted on to get the Broncos unit who ranked 30th in special teams DVOA last season, to perform at a championship standard.
Dixon comes to the Broncos after two seasons as the assistant defensive line coach with the Rams. He will take over for well-regarded Bill Kollar, who is moving to a defensive consultant role next season.
In 2021, the Rams’ defensive front was phenomenal. This season the Rams sported the sixth-ranked rush defense in the NFL, only giving up 103.2 yards per game on the ground. The defensive front often found themselves in the quarterback’s lap, totaling 50 sacks, ranking third in the NFL.
A former NFL defensive lineman, Dixon used that knowledge to help the likes of Aaron Donald and Co. to the league’s best pass rush win rate per ESPN stats. The Broncos, dead last in pass rush win rate, need a jolt in the arm and are counting on Dixon to provide it.
Evero, Stukes and Dixon have experienced success with the Rams over the past several seasons. And that winning experienced by each of the new coaches is necessary to inject into the fabric of Denver’s culture.