ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero had a shot at a two-game tryout.
A chance to get a feel for the job of head coach, even if it was on an interim basis.
He turned it down. He will wait for another opportunity. Maybe with Denver through its hiring process. Maybe with another team.
Just not this time, following the dismissal of Evero's good friend and first-time head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Evero will remain in charge of one of the league's top defenses. It's how he feels he can best help the team as interim coach Jerry Rosburg — hired in September to help Hackett with game-management duties — runs the show for the rest of the season.
“I don’t want to get into too much of the details,” Evero said when asked why he passed on the opportunity. “We just all agreed that the best thing for this team moving forward was for me to continue to work with the defense. I'm fully invested there. I think that’s where I could have the best value for this team.”
He and the Broncos have their hands full trying to stop Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (12-3) on Sunday. The Chiefs have won 14 straight over the Broncos (4-11).
“He’s a hell of a player," Evero said of Mahomes, who threw three touchdown passes and three interceptions in Kansas City's 34-28 win at Denver in Week 14.
Evero described the aftermath of Hackett's firing on Monday as “hard.” They've long been good friends and were teammates in college at UC Davis. Hackett's tenure with Denver lasted 15 games as the offense sputtered under quarterback Russell Wilson.
“I hold him in high regard," Evero said of Hackett. “I thought he did a great job here. There's a lot of adverse situations and things that didn’t work our way. But at the end of the day, this is what we signed up for, and we have to live with these consequences when we have these type of results. But there are very few people — aside from my wife — in this world that I respect more.”
Rosburg respected Evero's decision.
“My feeling is if that had happened to me with another close friend of mine in my career, I hope I would have done the same thing,” Rosburg said. "But it’s not an easy thing to do. I think he should be recognized for the magnanimous act that he did. Frankly, there are a lot of people who want to be standing up here. He’s highly qualified and he deserved the opportunity to say, ‘Yes.’ He chose to say, ‘No.’”
Should Evero ever need a glowing reference, just find safety Justin Simmons. He believes Evero will be a strong head coaching candidate.
“One of the brightest minds I’ve been around and one of the best leaders," Simmons said. "I think he would be at the top of the list for that.”
Evero's defense has been a bright spot even though the Broncos will miss the playoffs for a seventh straight time. It wasn't pretty last week, though, when Baker Mayfield and the Los Angeles Rams carved it up for 388 yards on their way to a 51-14 win.
“That’s not what any of us expected,” said Evero, who was the secondary/pass game coordinator for the Rams last season when they won the Super Bowl. “We can’t take it back now."
NOTES: The Broncos practiced Thursday in pads and on a field that had been cleared of about a foot of snow. “I used to work road construction — this is better," Rosburg said of being a coach. ... Rosburg didn't disclose who would be calling the offensive plays. “Maybe I'll call a play or two, to enhance my resume,” Rosburg cracked. ... Among those who didn't practice Thursday were TE Greg Dulcich (hamstring) and OLB Randy Gregory (knee). WR Jerry Jeudy (ankle) was limited. ... Jeudy defended Wilson having an office in a post on social media. “I’m just tired of reading things about my boy and making it seem like, ‘Oh, he’s not a good teammate,’” Jeudy explained after practice.
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