top of page

Interview: Washington Football DB Coach Chris Harris

ASHBURN, VA -- August 1, 2020, Washington Football Team defensive backs coach Chris harris speaks to the media.

On what he envisions the defensive scheme for the secondary in Washington:

“It’s going to be a scheme where guys are up there getting their hands on receivers. We will have various techniques that we will use, some possibly similar to what we did with the [Los Angeles] Chargers. [Assistant Defensive Backs/Nickel] Coach Vieselmeyer who has been with Coach [Defensive Coordinator Jack] Del Rio in Denver. It will be a few various things.”

On what it takes to create success in the secondary:

“First of all, it takes trust. All four or five guys in the back end all trusting that they are going to do their job. That is so cliché, you hear that everywhere but it really is a trust factor. A corner has to trust that a safety is going to be where he is supposed to be. A safety has to trust that a corner is going to do his job if he is going to cover a person. It goes hand in hand. I think that is the biggest thing creating some continuity back there, so you build that trust and that continuity.”

On how he sees the cornerback group shaking out:

“Right now, we haven’t really seen anyone out there on the field so it is kind of hard to envision it. One thing is that it is going to be an open competition. I am all about competing for jobs. No one will be given a job regardless of what your stature is, how much money you make, how long you’ve been in the league or how short you’ve been in the league. Everyone has to come in and compete to earn that starting role. Everyone will understand what that role is once we get here.”

On if any of the players have stood out to him on the Zoom meetings:

“To be quite honest with you, all of those guys have done a tremendous job in the Zoom meetings. Better than I anticipated. It is hard when you don’t get a chance to walk through or do those things. When you are virtually teaching it over the internet, showing clips, showing power points, but not physically getting the reps, it is tough. The guys have done a tremendous job with their attention and learning the details of the defense that we have been installing.”

On if his background coming from a smaller school affects how he coaches:

“Absolutely. Coming from the University of Louisiana Monroe, fortunate enough to be drafted in the sixth round. When you come in as one of those bottom picks, sixth, seventh round or even a free agent, you have a different chip on your shoulder. You obviously felt that you should’ve been drafted higher than you were. Everyone feels that way and if you don’t you are in the wrong sport. You have a chip on your shoulder so being able to talk to a guy like Jimmy [Moreland], a guy like [Greg] Stroman, I understand because I’ve been in those shoes that they feel right now. Coming in, having to earn a spot, never having anything given to you. You have to go take it. Having that mindset and being able to relate to those guys, that gives me a one-up in my coaching career. Having been a former player, a low-round draft pick, understanding what that grind looks like and what it takes to succeed at a high level coming from a smaller school.”

On what he remembers about playing with LB Thomas Davis Sr. and what he thinks of him as a player:

“It’s amazing. Thomas and I are really good friends. We both were drafted in the same draft. I’ll be 38 on Thursday and Thomas is 37. We were both drafted in 2005 at the same position at safety. I was fortunate enough to be his teammate for three seasons in Carolina. He is a guy that brings energy and juice. He may be the most competitive person that I have ever been around, and he is still that way even today. We are going on year 16. This is his 16th year playing and my 16th year in the NFL, but half of that is coaching and the other half is playing. I was with Thomas last year. He was with us with the Chargers. He played with us last year and I was on the coaching staff. He still has that fire and still has that energy. The biggest asset that he brings is leadership. He can really teach those young guys, not just in the linebacker room but in the entire organization, just how to be professional. He has done it for 16 years and has had the longevity that he has had and had a very successful career. That doesn’t happen by accident.”

On if having played for Coach Rivera helps him in now coaching for him:

“It helps a lot because I kind of understand him. I kind of know how he thinks, especially from a player standpoint and being around him. When he coached me back in Chicago the year we went to the Super Bowl, those two years he was there as the coordinator. He was a guy that demanded respect from the room, and he had the respect of all the single guys – not only on the defense but the entire team – because of the way he carries himself. You’re going to know exactly what’s expected is one thing I like about Ron. He’s not going to sugar coat anything. He’s going to tell you exactly what it is, this is the right way, this is the wrong way, and we’re going to do things the right way around here. If it happens not to go good but you do it the way we said we’re going to do it, he’s going to take all the blame for it because he’s got big shoulders. As a player, playing for a coach like that, all you can do it respect that. He’s a guy that will definitely reach the ears of this team, and I think it was a great hire when Washington decided to hire him as the coach. I knew he was going to be a head coach when I played for him in 2005 and 2006.”

On how he feels about Washington’s secondary:

“I’m excited. We’ve got some talent in the secondary. I’m extremely excited to get ready to work with Landon [Collins]. He’s been an established player in this league – a Pro Bowl player, an All-Pro player. Kendall Fuller is another exciting player. I love watching Jimmy [Moreland] on tape when I got here. Seeing Jimmy play corner, lower round pick that I’m pretty sure he exceeded expectations last season. We’ve got some guys here that I’m really excited about. We just got [Ronald] Darby in free agency and Sean Davis, so watching those guys on tape when we evaluated them during free agency and we thought that they could help as well. I’m extremely excited. I’m glad we’ve got Aaron Colvin back, another veteran in the group that’s played some very meaningful football in his career. I’m very happy with the group that we have, and I didn’t even mention a couple guys. Fabian [Moreau] who’s a second-round pick and so we expect big things. There’s going to be great competition because we have some really able bodies and some good football players here. It’s just trying to get ready to get back on the field so that we can get that competition going.”

On his thoughts on CB Fabian Moreau after breaking down his tape:

“I like Fabian. Fabian has really, really good size for the cornerback position. He’s got great speed. I like his length, and I think that’s really going to help him with the style of defense that we are going to play. I’m excited. He has the versatility to go outside and go inside, so we one thing we’re going to pride ourselves in is being flexible and being versatile in the backend. Players will learn how to play multiple positions, whether that be a corner being able to play nickel or whether that be a safety maybe having to go slide in at nickel some or play outside. One thing we want to do is we call ourselves DB’s [defensive backs]. You’re not a corner; you’re not a safety; you’re a DB, a defensive back. We’ll learn and we’ll put guys in the best position we see fit going forward.”

On where he envisions CB Kendall Fuller lining up:

“He has a tremendous talent because he can play on the outside, he can play on the inside, and he also can play safety. When you get a guy like that, that is as versatile as he is, we’re going to utilize him and put him in the best positions that we think will help out defense. Right now, it’s hard to say exactly where he’s going to be until we get out there on the field. We’re going to utilize his strengths and put him where we best feel he can help this football team.”

On how he will challenge a player like S Landon Collins:

“Oh yeah, he’s a tremendous talent and he really shows up when he’s in the box. When he’s near the line of scrimmage is when you really see him show up. I mean he can play back deep as well. Our goal is to utilize his talents. He’s an excellent blitzer. He can come off the edge, he creates havoc when he’s up close to the line of scrimmage. He creates tackle for losses, and he’s kind of like a spark plug. That starter for you, you know, a box of matches. He can be that guy that you strike, and you just need one match to light the whole fire, the whole box of matches. He can be that guy. We plan on utilizing his strengths, his ability to hit people and knock people back and get him taking the ball away. I’m extremely excited to work with him. I was fortunate enough to work with a guy with the Chargers, and I feel we have a guy here in Landon that can do some of those things.”

On if he sees any differences in Coach Rivera from his time in Chicago to now being in Washington:

“When I was with Ron, I had a player/coach relationship with him. A player/coach relationship is a little different than a coach to coach relationship. He’s definitely evolved as a coach. He’s still an excellent motivator, an excellent leader. Getting that coach to coach relationship with Coach Rivera has been great and it almost feels like playing days back when I was with him as a player. He’s a very personable person. He’s a person where his door is always open, and he always listens. You can come into his office anytime. I appreciate that with him. He coaches his coaches up the same way he coaches his players. I think it’s been great. It’s been actually great.”

On if there is a moment with Coach Rivera that has always stood out to him:

“Actually, yeah. I'm pretty sure you all remember the Monday Night Football game with 'The Bears are who we thought they were.' Denny Green with the Bears and Arizona. We were in Arizona; it was 2006 on Monday NightFootball and we did not play really good football in the first half. Ron came in there and he let it be known. He told everyone to man up and said, 'I don't want to see anyone pointing any fingers. You turnaround and point that finger at yourself. You do your job. If you do your job, then we will win this football game.' And he came in and just laid it out there and he is a very blunt person and he is going to tell you exactly like it and that is one thing that as a player I respected from Coach Rivera. So, I remember that locker room halftime speech when we came back and won that game in Arizona on Monday Night Football.”

On how he determines what best suits a player at a certain position:

“It is going to come down to the reps to determine that. Inside – guys that have instincts, that have really good instincts that can have a great feel and can play two-way goals inside and man coverage when they are in the slot. Guys on the outside – can do a great job playing lateral, getting their hands on receivers, being able to come out of their breaks and transition well at the top of the route while playing on top and staying on top to be able to defend deep balls.”

On how much of Coach Rivera’s Arizona halftime speech he could share in mixed company:

“I don't know if I can speak any of it in mixed company (laughs). But it was intense. It was intense, it was very intentional and it was very blunt. He kind of told it like it is. He didn't sugarcoat anything. We weren't playing well defensively. We gave up 18 points in the first half and had to bleep out some words if it was live (laughs). But, he got his point across and I don't think we gave up a point in the second half, or we gave up three. So, he got his point across and guys came out and we played a really good second half of defensive football.”

On how he envisions using CB Jimmy Moreland:

“I envision him playing both inside and outside. I think he has the versatility to be able to slide on the outside as well as slide on the inside. The one thing that I love about Jimmy that I watched on tape that sticks out to me when I watched him when I got here was his toughness. I think he is a tough individual, and I like tough football players. I've reiterated to those guys that the defense is only as tough as the defensive backs who come up and tackle. I am a firm believer in that. I'm somewhat old school. I'm not old – I don't think I'm old anyway – but I somewhat have an old school mentality that your corners have to be able to tackle and your team and your defense is only as tough as your corners tackling. That is kind of my philosophy and I preach it and that stuck out on tape when I watched Jimmy.”

On how he will address miscommunication issues:

“It starts in the meeting room. Whenever we meet and we're doing everything virtually now, but whenever we're talking, they have to communicate back to me. They have to communicate what is going on, give me the close call, give me the check here. It is not lecture style in my meeting rooms. It is open dialogue, open talk and I make them communicate and make them talk back to me and they are communicating and talking to each other. So, I'll just run the tape, give them the call and they've got to communicate to each other while watching the tape. But, it starts in the classroom and then once you take it from the classroom you've got to take it outside on to the field. Then you take it on to the field and into the game. Everything starts in the classroom, so we make sure we communicate, they communicate amongst each other with the checks while watching the tape and talking amongst themselves.”

On if he saw miscommunication issues when he watched the tape from last year:

“It was something. You saw it. You saw evidence of it when you were watching tape. It was just something that we want to harp on and make sure that our communication is top notch. You can't have a quiet defense, and everybody needs to know exactly what it is that they're supposed to do and do it.”p

28 views0 comments


bottom of page