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Woods meets with Harris, defensive backs to discuss play calls

One thing about adding sophistication to the defense: It increases player responsibility to carry out their assignments.
Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Chris Harris Jr. #25 of the Denver Broncos reacts as his blocked field goal return for touchdown is nullified by a penalty in the second quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Baltimore

ENGLEWOOD – Joe Woods began his press conference with a bemused smile.

He coached such outspoken characters as Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and Chris Harris Jr. during the height of the No Fly Zone, when all was swell. And we think Harris essentially telling the coaches what to do after the Broncos’ loss at Baltimore was a new development?

“I’ve heard that before, honestly, coaching those guys here,’’ Woods said Friday during his defensive coordinator press gathering.

What Harris said after the Broncos’ secondary got sliced up by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was there needs to be more creativity to Denver’s defense. Opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Flacco have all completed a high percentage of passes against the Denver defense through three games.

Harris explained his thoughts further this week in a sitdown interview with 9News, parts of which can be seen both on Sunday morning on Broncos Game Day (9 a.m., Channel 9) and during our pregame show Monday night.

“It wasn’t out of frustration,’’ Harris said. “I think as a whole talking to players and coaches, everybody, we need to disguise what we’re doing, we need to give them different looks and we’re just making it too easy where the quarterback doesn’t have to think at all. We just want to put some pressure on them, make ‘em think a little bit and try to force them to make some mistakes.’’

For the most part Broncos’ bosses and coaches agreed with Harris. Truth is, former Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was known for keeping it simple. When you have talents like DeMarcus Ware, Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan, Talib and Ward along with holdovers Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, Darian Stewart, Bradley Roby and Harris, simple works.

Woods, Harris and the rest of the secondary talked it out this week.

“Chris has played the game for a long time,’’ Woods said. “He’s playing at Pro Bowl level and he’s extremely smart. I sat down with all the DBs. In the meeting, we talked through a lot of different issues. I listened to some things they were concerned about and I explained to them why I was calling the things that I called. We’re in a good place right now, and moving forward, we’ll make sure we try to do that.”

They better be pulling on the same rope Monday night. The Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes – the hottest quarterback in the league with 13 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions in a 3-0 start – are coming to town.

It has appeared that the Broncos' cornerbacks have been playing a couple yards off receivers much more than they did during their Super 50 season of 2015 -- when Woods was their defensive backs coach, by the way.

“They’re putting (receivers) in tight splits where you can’t press them at all,'' Harris said. "It might look like we’re trying to play off but we’re not trying to play off -- they’re forcing us to play off. People might think on TV that we’re playing off because we choose to—trust me, we all choose to play press but it depends on what they’re doing.’’

One thing about adding sophistication to the defense: It increases player responsibility to carry out their assignments. Harris, one of the smartest football minds in the league, is trying to help his teammates.

“This week we’ve put so much extra time together that we know something’s good got to happen sooner or later,’’ Harris said. “We’re putting extra work in. I got us doing extra film and I’m breaking it down for everybody, so everybody can be on the same page. I think with Pacman (Jones) out there this week we should be way better.’’