The Denver Post

Could Ryan be answer to solving Broncos’ Kansas City problem?


KEELER >> Sexy Rexy! In just two years, the Broncos could be transition­ing from grumpy, boring guys who practice incompleti­ons (“Pencil” Pat Shurmur) at coordinato­r to one of the best yappers at an NFL lectern since the turn of the century (Rex Ryan). Pinch me! Oh, and some of Ryan’s defenses in Baltimore, New York and Buffalo were pretty nasty, too, back in the day. Hey, Rexy is a party, good days and bad, and Broncos Country is overdue for a good time, come heck or high water. They’re also overdue for someone who can scheme up a way to beat Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes’ Big Red Machine over in Kansas City. I think Sexy Rexy is just the dude who could pull it off. What say you?

NEWMAN >> I’m skeptical to hype up any of the new Broncos coaches — from Sean Payton on down — knowing that their success is going to rely heavily upon a career turnaround by Russell Wilson after the QB’S ugly 2022. But when it comes to bringing in a veteran defensive coordinato­r who can instantly demand respect from Denver’s mainstays (safety Justin Simmons and lineman D. J. Jones), Ryan could be a good hire. Unlike the team’s other two units, the defense doesn’t need an overhaul. It needs a steady hand who knows how to use his personnel, and who can cook up creative game plans to stop high-powered Mahomes & Co.

KEELER >> The best way to beat Mahomes is to a) outscore him (and that’s hard), b) rush him into bad throws (also hard), or c) keep him bored on the sideline while you kill clock (still hard). Only twice since 2017 has a team beat Mahomes while scoring fewer than 24 points. His combo of arm + brain + legs is downright Elwayesque. But as a defensive coordinato­r in Baltimore, Sexy Rexy has run into Mahomes “types” before. In nine meetings between Ryan’s Ravens D versus Ben Roethlisbe­rger (six games), Donovan Mcnabb (one game), Aaron Rodgers (one game) and Tony Romo (one game), good passers who could all move outside the pocket, Baltimore went 5- 4 and gave up just 15.0 points per game.

NEWMAN >> What Ryan has to bring to the Broncos’ defense is the intangible of knowing how to finish games, especially against the Chiefs. During the 15-game slide to the kings of the AFC West, four of Denver’s last five losses to KC have been by six points or less. In those close games, Denver’s defense has played well — the Broncos intercepte­d Mahomes three times in the December defeat at Empower Field — but they haven’t been able to get that key stop at the end to cement an upset. So Denver needs a defensive play caller who is one step ahead of Andy Reid in the fourth quarter, and that’s a tall task. Another issue to consider is whether Ryan, who has been out of the NFL since 2016, will be behind the curve when returning from a seven-year hiatus to face the league’s top offense twice a year.

KEELER >> As an NFL defensive coordinato­r, Ryan’s gone up against a Reid-coached team just once — when the Ravens hosted Philadelph­ia in November 2008. Reid’s Eagles got stomped, 36-7, racking up four intercepti­ons and forcing Captain Cheeseburg­er to bench Mcnabb (8 for 18 passing, zero TDS, two picks) in favor of Kevin Kolb. Granted, that was a Ravens D that featured Pro Bowlers at every level. Ryan wouldn’t have the same star power here, but he might make some of that difference up in swagger, don’t ya think?

NEWMAN >> Agreed, and swagger is what the Broncos need even more of on D. It’s not that Ejiro Evero’s unit necessaril­y lacked swagger. But as the 2022 season spiraled, and the losses and injuries mounted, the production and intensity of the Broncos’ defense tapered off.

 ?? JULIO CORTEZ — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Rex Ryan gained a reputation as an effective defensive coach during stops in Baltimore (coordinato­r), New York (head coach) and Buffalo (head coach).
JULIO CORTEZ — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Rex Ryan gained a reputation as an effective defensive coach during stops in Baltimore (coordinato­r), New York (head coach) and Buffalo (head coach).
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