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After falling short of his 2017 goals, Chris Harris Jr. is angry

Posted Apr 24, 2018

"My focus is to come back, [play] at an All-Pro level this year [and] get this team back winning,” Harris said.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Some players flushed the 2017 season away right as the finale against Kansas City concluded.

After a 5-11 campaign, it made sense to much of the Broncos’ roster to turn the page on an unacceptable season and turn toward 2018.

Chris Harris Jr. chose to implement a different strategy.

The Broncos’ No. 1 cornerback harbored the disappointment — and anger — over the course of the offseason as he prepared to help the Broncos return to playoff contention.

“I would say I’m pissed off, man,” Harris said Tuesday. “Just angry. This whole offseason, I’ve been mad. I didn’t get the goals I wanted last year, so I’m angry. My focus is to come back, [play] at an All-Pro level this year [and] get this team back winning.”

During Harris’ seven prior seasons with the Broncos, he hasn’t often dealt with a lack of success. From 2012 to 2016, the Broncos won five consecutive AFC West titles, appeared in two Super Bowls and won a world championship.

Similar success has escaped the Broncos over the course of the last two seasons, and Harris is made it clear he won’t accept that level of play.

“Every year — up to the last two years — I’ve been in the playoffs,” Harris said. “I’ve been chasing Super Bowls. We don’t like having the Chiefs and the Raiders and the [Chargers] ahead of us in the division. We used to have mind control over them. We want to bring that back.”

Returning to the top of the division will take both improvement from current players on the roster and an influx of talent from this season’s draft class.

In regards to the latter, Harris said he’s hoping President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway selects a player in the first round of Thursday’s draft who can “come in and play.”

“We need somebody’s who’s going to come in and play now,” Harris said. “Whether that be [Saquon] Barkley, [Bradley] Chubb — the guard from Notre Dame [Quenton Nelson]. One of those three guys. We know those guys can come in and play right now.”

The internal improvements will certainly take more time than the 10 minutes on Thursday that the Broncos are on the clock.

Harris attributed the secondary’s 2017 struggles to a lack of communication, an influx of young players and teams catching on to the Broncos’ overall defensive scheme.

If those mental errors can be fixed and the young players develop at an expected pace, Harris foresees a quick return to the level of dominance the defense played at two and three years ago.

“It was our red-zone defense,” Harris said. “You saw us on the field, you saw us on third down, we were tough. We still finished top five in a lot of categories, but our red-zone was terrible. We gave up too many passing touchdowns. Guys weren’t on the same page. We just panicked a lot in our red zone.

“I think if we can fix that and continue to play at a high level inside the field like we were [on] first, second and third [down] and tighten up our red-zone [defense], we’ll get back to being dominant.”

As the Broncos approach the season, Harris seems resolved to take on the burden of the responsibility as he aims to help the Broncos return to the playoffs.

“I’m praying I get thrown at more,” Harris said. “So hopefully I’ll be able to match up with No. 1 receivers more and really force those teams to throw at me even more. Not just playing in the slot, but playing everywhere and being able to match up any type of receiver we have on our list.”

In Week 1, that means Seattle’s Doug Baldwin.

An angry Chris Harris Jr. will be ready.