ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos ownership candidate Byron Allen said he’s building a 'Who’s Who of investors' to help strengthen his bid.
New Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett is building a staff of assistants that one after another has Broncos Country asking, 'who?'
>The video above is from Monday, Feb. 7: Klis & Tell: Broncos coaching addition may include Embree, team sale gains interest
It’s all part of Hackett’s plan to seemingly mirror the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff and load up with young assistants who can supply new ideas while bonding and growing together as a group.
True, it’s going to be a relatively inexperienced coaching staff. But the Broncos under Vic Fangio just had the most-experienced coaching staff in the NFL the past two or three seasons and how did that turn out?
A few days after Super Bowl 56 (LVI) is finished Sunday night, Hackett will complete his staff that is expected to feature three first-time coordinators in Justin Outten on offense, Ejiro Evero on defense and Dwayne Stukes for special teams. Outten is already in the building; Evero and Stukes are part of Sean McVay’s coaching staff with the Los Angeles Rams who meet the Cincinnati Bengals in the season’s final game Sunday.
Evero is assured of joining Hackett’s staff as defensive coordinator no later than Wednesday. Stukes' deal with the Broncos isn't finalized but the expectation is he will be hired as Hackett's special teams coordinator, sources tell 9NEWS.
Outten got his NFL coaching start just six years ago as an intern with the Atlanta Falcons and was most recently a tight ends coach for Hackett’s Packers. Even with Hackett calling the plays on Sunday, Outten’s leap from tight ends position coach to offensive coordinator is significant.
Evero has been in the NFL a while, but his first nine seasons were on the lower-rung quality control/assistant levels until he became the Rams’ safeties coach in 2017. He didn’t become a full position secondary coach until this season.
Stukes was Tampa Bay’s special teams coordinator in 2011, but otherwise has been a defensive assistant or special teams assistant in recent years. Stukes and Mike Mallory – both of whom served as assistants to Rams and former Broncos and Jaguars special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis in recent years – are expected to become the Broncos’ new special teams coaching duo.
There will also be relative inexperience elsewhere on Hackett’s staff. Linebackers coach Peter Hansen comes from the college ranks, and he won’t be the only Broncos’ assistant coach coming from the Saturday leagues. Ola Adams will join the Broncos’ staff as an assistant defensive backs coach to holdover secondary coach Christian Parker. Adams spent the previous seven years as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator at Villanova. Hansen and Adams had both hung out for a couple years with Evero on the lower-end of Fangio’s defensive staff in San Francisco in the early 2010s.
Adams had just left Villanova for Temple in early January, only to leave a couple weeks later following a call from the Broncos to reunite with Evero.
“You are getting a high energy, passionate, detail-oriented guy who obviously is very knowledgeable but also a great communicator,’’ Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante, who has turned around the Wildcats’ NCAA Division I program to one that finished 9-4 and 10-3 its last two full seasons, said of Adams to 9NEWS on Friday. “A high-energy guy who builds great relationships with his players.”
Sound familiar? It’s how many described Hackett when he was hired as the Broncos’ head coach after serving as offensive coordinator for the Packers, Jaguars and Bills over the past decade.
“He is a dear friend,’’ Evero said of Hackett during his Super Bowl LVI news conference Thursday. Evero and Hackett have been close friends since they played together for the University of California-Davis. “He’s a helluva football coach and Denver should be excited for him because he’s going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm. He’s a relentless worker. He’s extremely detailed. He’s extremely innovative, always thinking ahead and thinking forward and thinking of better ways to do things. They should all be excited.
“And he’s also going to bring accountability and toughness. People are going to see the energy and the goofiness at times and all that stuff but I think a lot of players who have played for him can attest he’s very direct in how he takes things head on, he doesn’t shy away from anything. They’re going to get a real complete football coach and I’m real excited for him and his family.”
Look up the Packers’ coaching staff and aside from head coach Matt LaFleur and defensive coordinator Joe Barry, the roster is filled with relative unknowns – other than maybe Luke Butkus, an offensive line coach whose name is familiar because his uncle Dick was a famed Hall of Fame linebacker for the Chicago Bears in the 1960s.
Why so much youth over experience? Sometimes the older, more experienced coaches can be killjoys to new ideas, technology and analytics. You do want some experience – and that’s why the Broncos are bringing in longtime NFL coach Dom Capers to serve as senior defensive assistant.
Evero was part of Capers’ staff in Green Bay during the 2016 season in a capacity similar to his role under Fangio in San Francisco from 2011-14. Capers, who will turn 72 in August, has served as a senior coaching advisor the previous three years with Jacksonville, Minnesota and Detroit.
“Vic has obviously meant a lot to me,’’ Evero said. “Taught me a lot of football. Learned a lot from seeing how he went about it. Not only the Xs and Os but also the work ethic, the attention to detail, all the things that go on behind the scenes in terms of getting ready to do it.
“And Brandon (Staley, the Chargers head coach and Evero’s defensive boss with the Rams in 2020) meant a lot as well. When we transitioned from Wade (Phillips) to him it was going back to what I had known but I hadn’t done in a while and making it fresh, and also some of his new perspectives, especially bringing the college flavor that he had been exposed to.
“But philosophically, the way we play now is what I believe in. But at the end of the day it’s all about your players. You have to do the best you can with the players you have and put them in spots where they can be their very best self and I think any good coach from the Vic Fangio to the Wade Phillips to the Dom Capers, Monte Kiffin, Brandon Staley, every great coach that I’ve been with, that’s what they do. It’s not so much what your play is, it’s what your players do best.”
It's also worth noting Hackett didn't get all first choices as he was putting his staff together. The Packers declined Hackett's interview requests for Adam Stenavich, who was promoted from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator, and Jason Vrable, who was promoted from receivers coach to passing game coordinator.
And the Broncos missed out on veteran tight ends coach Jon Embree, the local product who received more money and an elevated title of assistant head coach with the Miami Dolphins.
Still, the backup plans only brought more youthful enthusiasm, energy and fresh thinking, if with an abundance of inexperience. It worked the past three years with the Packers' staff, at least in the regular season, in large part because of one particular player, Aaron Rodgers. Perhaps, it will work out so that same player can make quick geniuses out of Hackett’s newly formed staff.
That's the next Broncos story after Hackett finishes off the bulk of his coaching staff next week.
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