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CHJ on urgency to win: ‘It’s critical RIGHT NOW’

The cornerback, who will be tested mightily on Sunday against the Rams, said the Broncos defense knows what it has to do.

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Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Snow is likely to welcome the L.A. Rams to town on Sunday and although the Broncos say they look forward to their potential advantage playing in the cold, it’s going to take a lot more than winter weather to stifle the high-flying Rams.

Like a defense that refuses to let Todd Gurley III have a record-breaking game or allow Jared Goff to throw for five touchdowns and more than 450 yards, for one.

It’s a tall order for a defense that just allowed one of the league’s most mediocre offenses to run roughshod over it.

But Chris Harris Jr. underscored why it’s an order the Broncos have to fulfill when asked at what point in the season winning was critical.

“It’s critical right now! I mean, if you don’t know, it’s a critical point right now,” the cornerback laughed.

But the goal to get back .500 at 3-3 is no joke for Harris Jr. and the Broncos.

“The Chiefs are running away with the division being undefeated. We’ve got to make up some ground with them. That’s one of our goals,” he said. “If it’s not urgent to you right now, then you’re pretty lost in this game right now.”

Bradley Roby’s dedication was called into question after he missed Monday’s practice and a players-only meeting following one of his worst NFL games to date. But the beleaguered cornerback, who apparently just didn’t communicate with teammates and coaches that he was sick, insists he is ready to bounce back.

“Obviously, I did not have a good game. I didn’t perform well. I [stunk], actually,” Roby acknowledged, adding that “everything is under a microscope” at corner. “I have to win my battles, not let the team down and just do my job.”

Roby and Harris Jr. might get a small break if Cooper Kupp and/or Brandin Cooks are still in concussion protocol (though the expectation is that they’ll be ready to play), but you can bet Sean McVay will bring an innovative offensive scheme with a lot of deceptive pre-snap motions to the Mile High city that Broncos should not underestimate.

“It’s going to be a game where we have to be disciplined with our eyes. It’s a lot of jet motions, it’s a lot of sweeps, it’s a lot of crossing routes,” coach Vance Joseph noted. “He definitely tests your discipline, so we have to be that way on Sunday to play well against his offense. Again, no one’s stopped them yet, so we’ll see. It’s our turn.”

Tackling better and anticipating better would be a great start in stopping somebody on offense.

“We definitely do,” Harris said about tackling better. “[The Jets] had a great scheme, trying to bounce everything and the guy was coming full speed a lot of the times. So, it’s a tough tackle for our corners, but we’ve changed some stuff up to make it an easier tackle.”

Hopefully Harris Jr. has also learned his lesson after joking about how many picks Joe Flacco has thrown him over the years as well as highlighting the potential for picks from young QBs like Patrick Mahomes and Sam Darnold. All three of those quarterbacks have made the Broncos’ secondary look below average three weeks in a row.

“They do a lot of jet motions like the Chiefs,” Harris Jr. said of the Rams’ offense. “Other than that, it’s more downhill running with Todd Gurley. Kupp, he’s kind of [Goff’s] safety net guy. He gets open, he moves the chains and he’s really comfortable with [Goff] throwing him the ball.”

The veteran corner pointed out that studying offenses - many of which are run-pass option schemes - is a lot different than it used to be in the NFL.

“You’re studying these teams and what they’re implementing with the college game. I mean, everything is like RPOs now,” No. 25 said. “Studying for me is totally different than it was studying four years ago in the NFL. I think every game you have to be ready for [anything].”

Joseph elaborated more on just how dynamic the Rams offense has been and what that will mean for the Broncos defense.

“It’s an explosive unit,” Joseph said, noting the Rams average 34 points a game. “Obviously, that halfback (Todd Gurley) is a great player. It starts with him as far as the zone-running scheme, and the pass game is built off that. The quarterback (Jared Goff) is playing really well. He’s hot. And they’ve got three really good receivers in Cooper Kupp, [Robert] Woods and [Brandin] Cooks.”

There’s not a ton of confidence among fans right now that the Broncos are the team to beat that trifecta, but fans don’t play the game, so it’s more important that players believe they can play disciplined enough to hold off Goff, Gurley & Co. anyway.

And Harris Jr. seems to think they can.

“I think everybody wants it bad. Everybody is tuned in. We just had a bad game. It just happens,” he said. “I’ve got confidence in everybody and I believe in everybody. ...They can beat us twice by us not bouncing back this week, not getting our mind right for the Rams and be stuck in that hole. We don’t want them to beat us twice. We’re trying to get over that.”

Horse Tracks - docllv’s pick of the day

John Elway’s worst personnel decision was free agent that got away: Wade Phillips
I rarely recommend a Kizsla read...but this time he is right. /Sigh.

Horse Tracks

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Numbers that matter: The key stats for #LARvsDEN
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Los Angeles Rams O-line has yet to be charged with a sack this season - Turf Show Times
Jared Goff’s had some mighty fine protection thus far in 2018

Broncos changes we could see this week after third straight loss - Denver7
Coach Vance Joseph promised changes. Here are some of the possibilities.

The Neutral Zone: Rebounding vs. the Rams
On this week’s episode of “The Neutral Zone,” Phil Milani and Aric DiLalla look back at the turning points of the Broncos’ loss to the Jets (0:56), talk with rookie WR DaeSean Hamilton about his first career receptions and more.

Redskins’ Josh Norman faces criticism, says contract makes him ‘a target’ - WashPo
The cornerback, in the third year of a $58 million deal, hits back at criticism that he is not longer an elite player.

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The Kansas City Chiefs' offense presents a multitude of mismatches on a weekly basis. Or as Pats coach Bill Belichick puts it: "They're all dangerous."