According to NFL Insider Aaron Wilson, the Indianapolis Colts are targeting Washington Football Team defensive backs coach Chris Harris as the team’s new defensive coordinator:
Indianapolis Colts targeting Washington Football Team defensive backs coach Chris Harris, former 2nd team All-Pro Bears safety who intercepted 16 career passes with 439 tackles, as leading candidate for their defensive coordinator job to replace Matt Eberflus, per league sources— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) February 1, 2022
The Colts had reportedly interviewed Harris this past weekend and apparently he really impressed in the initial round among the team’s top brass.
The former NFL safety was selected by the Chicago Bears as a 6th round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft and had an 8-year playing career in the NFL. He was an NFL Second-Team All-Pro with the Chicago Bears in 2010—and played in ‘the Windy City’ when Colts general manager Chris Ballard was a prior scout for the franchise, so there’s some familiarity there.
At 39 years old, Harris has previously served as the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers assistant defensive backs coach (2016-19) and Chicago Bears defensive quality control coach (2013-14).
Having played under former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith under two separate stints (2005-06 and 2010-11), and later served as the Los Angeles Chargers assistant defensive backs coach under ex-defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, it’s likely that Harris would deploy a predominantly Cover 2 or Cover 3 defensive scheme (very similar to departed Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus) just like his coaching mentors.
Under Washington Football Team defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, Harris has been exposed to a 4-3 base defense again that also uses a lot of zone coverage schemes.
Aside from former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the vast majority of the Colts defensive coordinator candidates have so far been either from the Cover 2 or Cover 3 defensive coaching trees—which means that’s the defensive system they’ll likely continue to want to deploy going forward.
It also makes sense because the team doesn’t have to overhaul its defensive roster, and some of the Colts best players are already suited for such a scheme.
What might separate Harris from others is that by not being too far removed from being a former NFL player, and a good one at that, he may be able to better communicate, coach, and develop young players—in addition to calling the defensive plays along the sideline.