Some have worried that the departure of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will set the Denver defense back a step. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. has the opposite view.
“We like it,” Harris told reporters on Monday regarding the elevation of defensive backs coach Joe Woods. “He knows our strengths, so that is a good thing having a guy that really knows how we play and things like that. Him getting elevated to the [defensive] coordinator, I think it is a perfect fit for us and what we’re trying to do.
“We’re doing a lot of things that we have done in the past, but we’re kind of adding more wrinkles and taking it to another level. With Wade we were on Level Two on a lot of things, but now we are on Level Three on some coverages.”
Harris actually hopes he won’t be in coverage as much as he’s been in the past.
“Hopefully I am blitzing more,” he said. “Hopefully I get to get some more sacks like I did my first four years. I was very active in the run, getting sacks and playing the ball, so hopefully I’ll be able to do it all this year. . . . I want to be active. I want to be able to show everything that I can do. I can blitz. I can cover. I can play zone and play man. I can do it all. I want to add everything to my game.”
The defense as a whole needs to add something to its game, because the defense found itself giving up too many opening-drive points last year.
“They were coming out with their best first 15 plays,” Harris said. “They were getting us and we started out slow. Now, I think Joe [Woods] and them are going to be way more prepared going into this [season] because these teams keep repeating the same type of plays versus us. Now, we’re going to be well prepared for that. I think we’ll be able to start a lot faster. We’ve got a lot of new stuff, too. They’ve got to be able to disguise what we’re doing now and we kind of make it a little bit harder for them to understand what we are in.”
It remains to be seen whether swapping Phillips for Woods will have that impact on the defense. But the Broncos wanted to elevate Woods now because they feared losing him to another team as a coordinator.
If Woods gets the defense back to where it was two years ago, they’ll have to fear losing him to another team as the head coach.