Broncos CB Chris Harris expects defense to take it to 'another level' under Joe Woods

Posted at 1:48 PM, Apr 17, 2017

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- This was a press conference. "This is Spinal Tap," however, was briefly the vibe.

All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris Jr. stood in the front of the media Monday and made a promise. The Broncos' own the NFL's top-ranked pass defense over the past two seasons. Harris believes this year's defense could turn it up to 11. Get the amp ready.

"(Joe Woods) getting elevated to defensive coordinator is the perfect fit for us and what we are trying to do. We are adding more wrinkles and taking it to another level," Harris said Monday. "With (former coordinator) Wade (Phillips) we were on level two with a lot of things and now we are on level three."

The Broncos rocked last season. But they still were rolled in multiple games, experiencing letdowns against Atlanta and at Kansas City. Despite strong statistics across the board, the defense featured flaws against the run and on first possessions. At times, the Broncos were more predictable than a Scooby-Doo ending. Teams ran their first 15 plays with little resistance. The Broncos counter punched, but placing Denver's offense in a sinkhole proved an ineffective strategy. 

"We will change things up, disguise things more," Harris said.

The idea remains simple. Force teams to attack the No Fly Zone, exposing quarterbacks to turnovers and the relentless pass rush of Von Miller and crew. For this to transpire, the Broncos must stop the run. They were awful last season, allowing 130.3 yards per game compared to 83.6 during the Super Bowl championship season.

"We will be so much better because of (free agents Domata) Peko and (Zach) Kerr. We didn't have enough beef," said Harris, who was named Denver Athletic Club's professional athlete of the year on Monday. "We weren't big enough."

Harris, entering his seventh season, plans to assume a leadership role on a defense stocked with alpha-personalities. The Broncos lost veteran DeMarcus Ware, but have strong voices in Harris, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib, Miller and Derek Wolfe.

"We will continue to talk mess to the offense, talk mess to the receivers," Harris said. "We are going to hold everyone accountable. It will be the same mentality."

Following Harris' logic is easy when looking at his production. Harris has been among the league's steadiest performers the past few seasons. However a team cannot win with defense alone. For the second straight spring, the Broncos face questions at quarterback. Confidence in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch seems more tangible when juxtaposed to last year's uncertainty.

"Trevor had a great year last year. He definitely had some ups and downs, but the dude played injured a lot. He took a lot of hits, and for him to get back up from them, we saw a lot of promise from him," Harris said. "And Paxton, it's going to be a huge year for him. But I think (offensive coordinator) Mike McCoy's offense will help him, the play style. Paxton was in a spread offense. He came in with a tough offense to learn, and I think Mike McCoy's offense will be a lot more like what he ran in college."

And then there is the draft, perhaps the most important in general manager John Elway's tenure as general manager. Emmanuel Sanders said he wouldn't mind if the Broncos landed a left tackle or tight end in the first round. As for Harris?

"I like playmakers," Harris said. "We definitely need a guy that can play running back, receiver and returner. A guy that can do that, I would definitely love him."

When asked if that "sounds a lot like Christian McCaffrey." Harris looked over and smiled. It's spring. No crime in turning up the optimism. 


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