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Slowik third Broncos defensive boss in 3 years

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -The hot seat? Sure. His comfort zone? You bet.

Bob Slowik is settling in as Denver's third defensive boss in three years under coach Mike Shanahan and he doesn't have the time or the gumption to give his job security a second thought.

"It's kind of like players. You don't tell them every day, 'Hey, if you don't start making plays or you're not getting the job done, you're not going to be here.' It's the NFL. They know that. Coaches know the same thing," Slowik said.

"But that's the last thing from my mind," he said. "I go to sleep at night and feel good."

After all, Slowik wasn't sure if he'd ever have the chance to build a defense again after his last gig didn't go so well in Green Bay in 2004.

He left the Packers after one forgettable season in charge of a defense that allowed a franchise record 37 touchdown passes and managed a measly eight interceptions.

"I kind of thought, hey, that might have been my last opportunity," Slowik said. "So, I'm very fortunate."

Slowik, who also served as defensive coordinator in Cleveland in 1999 and in Chicago from 1993-98, landed in Denver in 2005 coaching the defensive backs and tutoring perennial Pro Bowlers Champ Bailey and John Lynch.

Last year, Slowik was promoted to defensive coordinator/secondary coach, but it was Jim Bates who built the defense and called the plays. After a miserable start, though, the Broncos ditched Bates' big linemen scheme, opting for more agile athletes and putting eight men in the box, hallmarks of Slowik's philosophies.

The hybrid scheme helped some, but the Broncos, shuffling their lineup and tenets, finished near the bottom of the league in rush defense and yards allowed and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

As Larry Coyer did the year before, Bates paid the price. He refused a demotion to linebackers coach and left the team. He was replaced by Slowik, 54.

Cornerback Dre' Bly said Slowik brings a different feel to both the classroom and the football field.

"Coach is a great teacher. And not to knock Bates or anything, but Slow makes sure everything is understood and everything is in detail," Bly said. "I think the guys respond well to Slowik, there's no laughing and joking in our meetings, it's all business. It's all teaching."

Players appreciate Slowik's respectful style, which they say was a big reason the Broncos pass defense allowed the seventh-fewest yards per game last year.

"He doesn't really yell at you or curse at you. When he's coaching you it's constructive criticism," cornerback Karl Paymah said. "He goes straight to the point, it's not him trying to put you down or demean you or make you look dumb in front of anyone else or try to prove a point. He brought the best out of the DBs and it's really going to carry on to the rest of the defense."

Shanahan thinks so.

"I've known Bob well over 20 years. He's a heck of a coach, one of the most knowledgeable people that I've been around and he's doing a heck of a job," Shanahan said.

Despite integrating some of his ideas in a futile attempt to save the season last year, Slowik said this scheme doesn't bear any resemblance to last year's.

"Zero. New terminology, new techniques," he said.

"Basically, he's simplified it," Paymah said. "You don't want to be out there week to week changing the scheme up because guys will get confused. You can't be out there thinking, you've got to be reacting."

The Broncos made major changes in the offseason, signing free-agent linebackers Boss Bailey and Niko Koutouvides, which allows D.J. Williams to move from middle linebacker to the weak side, his natural position.

They also signed safeties Marlon McCree and Marquand Manuel and traded for defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson to help bolster the front line, where a lot is expected from second-year players Jarvis Moss, Marcus Thomas and Tim Crowder, all of whom had big growing pains as rookies.

"We've got a good nucleus," Slowik said. "But we've got a long ways to go. We're not close yet. But if we keep working with the attitude we have, we should improve."

His job certainly could depend on it.

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