Panthers hire Ejiro Evero as new defensive coordinator: What you need to know
Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich has found his new defensive coordinator.
On Sunday, the Panthers agreed to terms with former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero to fill the same role in Carolina. Evero arrives in Carolina after interviewing with the Panthers, Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans for their head coach vacancies.
Evero, 42, was one of the few widespread head coach candidates within this year’s coaching carousel, receiving interest for every available opening, despite the fact that the Broncos fired his boss — first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett — midway through their first campaign together last season.
Despite the Broncos’ rough season on offense, Evero’s defensive unit shined, which turned him into an appealing candidate just one year into coordinating.
Here are three things you need to know about Evero:
Long road to get here
Evero — born in Colchester, England — grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He played safety for the University of California at Davis and went undrafted in 2004. He ended up signing with the then-Oakland Raiders but failed to make the roster. After his playing days were finished, Evero returned to UC Davis as an assistant coach in 2005. After two years of college coaching, he was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a defensive quality control coach in 2007.
After three seasons with the Buccaneers, he joined the staff at the University of Redlands as special teams coordinator and safeties coach in 2010. That stint only lasted a year, and he quickly latched on with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. During his four years with the 49ers, Evero worked with both the offense and defense as a lower-level assistant coach.
He joined the Green Bay Packers as a quality control coach in 2016 before landing his first NFL position coach job in 2017 with Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams. Evero spent four seasons as the Rams’ safeties coach before being promoted to secondary coach and defensive passing game coordinator in 2021. He parlayed the success of the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI win into a defensive coordinator gig with the Broncos.
An ascending defensive play-caller
Evero has been an NFL defensive play-caller for just one season. However, that season was a phenomenal debut.
The Broncos had the worst scoring offense in the league last season, so Evero’s crew had to hold down the fort for Denver to even sniff competitiveness. The Broncos’ defense ranked 14th in the league in points allowed and seventh in yardage allowed.
Opposing teams, despite the Broncos’ offensive struggles, scored 20 points or more just eight times. During the first nine games, opponents eclipsed 20 points just once.
The Broncos traded away starting defensive end Bradley Chubb in October, and while the defense struggled a bit after that departure, Evero’s unit was still the most successful group in Denver.
When Hackett was fired in December, Evero reportedly chose to turn down the interim head coach opportunity and continue to focus on the defense.
Evero has never worked with Reich
Evero has worked under a handful of notable head coaches during his career. All of those head coaches were from the offensive side of the ball.
In Tampa Bay, he spent two years under Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden. In San Francisco, he worked under Jim Harbaugh, who led the 49ers to a Super Bowl matchup.
During his one-year stint in Green Bay, he worked for another Super Bowl-winning head coach in Mike McCarthy. And then, obviously, he won a Super Bowl as part of McVay’s staff in Los Angeles.
Despite those many travels, Evero has never been on the same staff as Reich. Evero clearly impressed the Panthers brass when he interviewed for the head coach job. Perhaps, the Panthers’ brain trust match-made this partnership.