COACHES

Wade Phillips
Defensive Coordinator

Biography

Wade Phillips, who is in his 48th year of coaching, enters his first season with the Rams and will take on the defensive coordinator role on Head Coach Sean McVay’s staff.

A veteran of 39 NFL seasons, Phillips owns 35 years of experience as a defensive coordinator or head coach. He most recently served as defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos (2015-16), which was his second stint with the club after serving the same role from 1989-92, and also as head coach from 1993-94.

Phillips has been a part of 21 different top-10 defensive units during his NFL career and has coached a total of 31 Pro Bowlers, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Elvin Bethea, Curley Culp, Rickey Jackson, Bruce Smith and Reggie White.

He is one of three individuals in NFL history to be named Assistant Coach of the Year multiple times by the Pro Football Writers of America, being honored with that distinction in 2011 with Houston and in 2015 with Denver. Phillips also received the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award from the PFWA in 2016 (lifetime achievement as an NFL assistant coach).

Denver finished the 2016 season at the top of the league in several key categories with Phillips at the helm of the defense. The Broncos ranked first in the NFL in pass defense, yards per play and interception return yards, as well as fourth in total defense and scoring defense. The unit tied for third in the NFL with 42 sacks and ranked second in the league with 113 quarterback hits in 2016. Several players earned consecutive Pro Bowl nods in Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., and Aqib Talib, while Darian Stewart notched his first such honor.

In his first year back with the Broncos in 2015, Phillips directed an historic defense that finished as the top unit (283.1 ypg) in the NFL for the first time in team history. Featuring four Pro Bowlers—linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware as well as cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib—Denver’s defense posted a league-high 52 sacks while contributing five defensive scores in the regular season.

During the Broncos’ postseason run, the defense recorded 14 sacks and six forced fumbles while limiting the league’s No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 scoring offenses to nearly half (50.7 percent) of their average regular-season point totals and a combined 7-of-42 (16.7 percent) on third down attempts. Miller posted 2.5 of Denver’s seven sacks in Denver’s Super Bowl 50 win against Carolina to become just the 10th defensive player to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

Prior to returning to Denver, Phillips was the defensive coordinator on Gary Kubiak’s staff in Houston from 2011- 13. He took over the league’s 30th-ranked unit in 2011 and guided the defense to a No. 2 overall ranking (285.7 ypg) in his first year with the club to earn PFW/PFWA Assistant Coach of the Year honors. The Texans ranked seventh in total defense (323.3 ypg) in 2012, paced by Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, who led the league with a franchise-record 20.5 sacks and added 16 passes defensed.

Phillips served as interim head coach of the Texans for the team’s final three weeks in 2013, representing the third time in his career he assumed that role to close out a season for an NFL team.

His longest head-coaching tenure came with Dallas from 2007-10 as he compiled a 34-22 (.607) regular-season record and led the Cowboys to NFC East Division titles following the 2007 and 2009 seasons.

Before arriving in Dallas, Phillips spent three years as defensive coordinator for San Diego (2004-06). During that time, the Chargers ranked second in the league in run defense (88.9 ypg) and sacks (136) while twice finishing first in the AFC West standings.

In his two seasons with Atlanta from 2002-03, Phillips’ defense was one of the best in the NFL in forcing turnovers, tying for sixth in the league with 63 takeaways (34 INT, 29 FR) in that period. He was named interim head coach for the final three weeks of the 2003 season, guiding the Falcons to a 2-1 record.

Phillips was with the Buffalo Bills for a six-year stretch from 1995-2000, spending three seasons as the club’s defensive coordinator before being promoted to vice president of football operations/head coach for three additional campaigns. His defenses finished no worse than ninth in the NFL during five of his six years with the Bills, including consecutive top-three finishes in 1999 and 2000. Bruce Smith tied for third in the NFL with 55 sacks during his final five seasons (1995-99) in Buffalo, helping the Bills rank second in total quarterback takedowns (223) in that period.

Phillips led Buffalo to a 29-19 (.604) regular-season record in his three years at the helm, helping the Bills to their two most recent playoff appearances and double- digit win seasons (1998, ’99). In addition to coaching defensive standouts like Bruce Smith, Bryce Paup and Ted Washington, Phillips coached a talented trio of future offensive Hall of Famers: quarterback Jim Kelly, wide receiver Andre Reed and running back Thurman Thomas.

As the 10th head coach in Broncos history from 1993- 94, Phillips recorded a 16-16 (.500) regular-season record. His initial 1993 squad finished 9-7 and earned a wild card playoff berth as quarterback John Elway piloted the AFC’s top-ranked scoring offense (23.3 ppg) and led the conference in attempts (551), completions (348), passing yards (4,030), touchdown passes (25), completion percentage (63.2) and passer rating (92.8).

Phillips also coached tight end Shannon Sharpe and tackle Gary Zimmerman, as the pair teamed with fellow future Hall of Famer Elway to lead the Broncos to a third- place NFL offensive ranking (341.1 ypg) from 1993-94.

During his four seasons as Denver’s defensive coordinator (1989-92), Phillips coached safety Steve Atwater, linebacker Michael Brooks, defensive tackle Greg Kragen, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg and safety Dennis Smith to Pro Bowl honors.

The Broncos finished fifth in total defense (284.3 ypg) in 1991 as Denver advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the fourth time in six seasons. Phillips’ most complete defense was the Broncos’ 1989 Super Bowl unit that ranked in the top five in the NFL in total defense (3rd), scoring defense (1st), run defense (6th), pass defense (3rd), takeaways (2nd) and sacks (4th).

Before his first stint in Denver, Phillips spent three seasons (1986-88) as defensive coordinator in Philadelphia. The Eagles posted the second-most takeaways (128) in the league during that stretch and ranked third in the NFL with 152 sacks—including 57 quarterbacks takedowns by White to represent the highest three-year total in history.

Phillips’ first coordinator position came with New Orleans from 1981-85, working under his father and Head Coach Bum Phillips. Led by Jackson, who was selected by the club in the second round (51st overall) of the 1981 NFL Draft, Phillips’ defenses were among the best in the league, especially during a three-year stretch from 1982- 84 when the Saints ranked second in total defense (297.9 ypg) and fifth in sacks (142).

He served as interim head coach for the Saints during the last four games of the 1985 season, earning a 29-3 win against the Los Angeles Rams in his head coaching debut on Dec. 1, 1985.

Phillips began his NFL career as linebackers coach for Bum Phillips and the Houston Oilers in 1976 before moving on to coach the club’s defensive line from 1977-80. Houston advanced to the AFC Championship Game in 1978 and 1979 as Elvin Bethea earned Pro Bowl selections following both of those years playing for Phillips.

A linebacker at the University of Houston from 1966-68, Phillips began his coaching career with his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 1969.

He spent three years (1970-72) as defensive coordinator at Orange (Texas) High School before working as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University (1973-74) and the University of Kansas (1975).

Phillips, who was born on June 21, 1947, in Orange, Texas, played linebacker at Port Neches-Grove High School in Port Neches, Texas. Phillips and his wife, Laurie, have a son, Wesley, the tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins, and a daughter, Tracy, who is a professional actress, dancer and choreographer in Hollywood, Calif.

Wade Phillips, who is in his 48th year of coaching, enters his first season with the Rams and will take on the defensive coordinator role on Head Coach Sean McVay’s staff.

A veteran of 39 NFL seasons, Phillips owns 35 years of experience as a defensive coordinator or head coach. He most recently served as defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos (2015-16), which was his second stint with the club after serving the same role from 1989-92, and also as head coach from 1993-94.

Phillips has been a part of 21 different top-10 defensive units during his NFL career and has coached a total of 31 Pro Bowlers, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Elvin Bethea, Curley Culp, Rickey Jackson, Bruce Smith and Reggie White.

He is one of three individuals in NFL history to be named Assistant Coach of the Year multiple times by the Pro Football Writers of America, being honored with that distinction in 2011 with Houston and in 2015 with Denver. Phillips also received the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award from the PFWA in 2016 (lifetime achievement as an NFL assistant coach).

Denver finished the 2016 season at the top of the league in several key categories with Phillips at the helm of the defense. The Broncos ranked first in the NFL in pass defense, yards per play and interception return yards, as well as fourth in total defense and scoring defense. The unit tied for third in the NFL with 42 sacks and ranked second in the league with 113 quarterback hits in 2016. Several players earned consecutive Pro Bowl nods in Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., and Aqib Talib, while Darian Stewart notched his first such honor.

In his first year back with the Broncos in 2015, Phillips directed an historic defense that finished as the top unit (283.1 ypg) in the NFL for the first time in team history. Featuring four Pro Bowlers—linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware as well as cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib—Denver’s defense posted a league-high 52 sacks while contributing five defensive scores in the regular season.

During the Broncos’ postseason run, the defense recorded 14 sacks and six forced fumbles while limiting the league’s No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 scoring offenses to nearly half (50.7 percent) of their average regular-season point totals and a combined 7-of-42 (16.7 percent) on third down attempts. Miller posted 2.5 of Denver’s seven sacks in Denver’s Super Bowl 50 win against Carolina to become just the 10th defensive player to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

Prior to returning to Denver, Phillips was the defensive coordinator on Gary Kubiak’s staff in Houston from 2011- 13. He took over the league’s 30th-ranked unit in 2011 and guided the defense to a No. 2 overall ranking (285.7 ypg) in his first year with the club to earn PFW/PFWA Assistant Coach of the Year honors. The Texans ranked seventh in total defense (323.3 ypg) in 2012, paced by Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, who led the league with a franchise-record 20.5 sacks and added 16 passes defensed.

Phillips served as interim head coach of the Texans for the team’s final three weeks in 2013, representing the third time in his career he assumed that role to close out a season for an NFL team.

His longest head-coaching tenure came with Dallas from 2007-10 as he compiled a 34-22 (.607) regular-season record and led the Cowboys to NFC East Division titles following the 2007 and 2009 seasons.

Before arriving in Dallas, Phillips spent three years as defensive coordinator for San Diego (2004-06). During that time, the Chargers ranked second in the league in run defense (88.9 ypg) and sacks (136) while twice finishing first in the AFC West standings.

In his two seasons with Atlanta from 2002-03, Phillips’ defense was one of the best in the NFL in forcing turnovers, tying for sixth in the league with 63 takeaways (34 INT, 29 FR) in that period. He was named interim head coach for the final three weeks of the 2003 season, guiding the Falcons to a 2-1 record.

Phillips was with the Buffalo Bills for a six-year stretch from 1995-2000, spending three seasons as the club’s defensive coordinator before being promoted to vice president of football operations/head coach for three additional campaigns. His defenses finished no worse than ninth in the NFL during five of his six years with the Bills, including consecutive top-three finishes in 1999 and 2000. Bruce Smith tied for third in the NFL with 55 sacks during his final five seasons (1995-99) in Buffalo, helping the Bills rank second in total quarterback takedowns (223) in that period.

Phillips led Buffalo to a 29-19 (.604) regular-season record in his three years at the helm, helping the Bills to their two most recent playoff appearances and double- digit win seasons (1998, ’99). In addition to coaching defensive standouts like Bruce Smith, Bryce Paup and Ted Washington, Phillips coached a talented trio of future offensive Hall of Famers: quarterback Jim Kelly, wide receiver Andre Reed and running back Thurman Thomas.

As the 10th head coach in Broncos history from 1993- 94, Phillips recorded a 16-16 (.500) regular-season record. His initial 1993 squad finished 9-7 and earned a wild card playoff berth as quarterback John Elway piloted the AFC’s top-ranked scoring offense (23.3 ppg) and led the conference in attempts (551), completions (348), passing yards (4,030), touchdown passes (25), completion percentage (63.2) and passer rating (92.8).

Phillips also coached tight end Shannon Sharpe and tackle Gary Zimmerman, as the pair teamed with fellow future Hall of Famer Elway to lead the Broncos to a third- place NFL offensive ranking (341.1 ypg) from 1993-94.

During his four seasons as Denver’s defensive coordinator (1989-92), Phillips coached safety Steve Atwater, linebacker Michael Brooks, defensive tackle Greg Kragen, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg and safety Dennis Smith to Pro Bowl honors.

The Broncos finished fifth in total defense (284.3 ypg) in 1991 as Denver advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the fourth time in six seasons. Phillips’ most complete defense was the Broncos’ 1989 Super Bowl unit that ranked in the top five in the NFL in total defense (3rd), scoring defense (1st), run defense (6th), pass defense (3rd), takeaways (2nd) and sacks (4th).

Before his first stint in Denver, Phillips spent three seasons (1986-88) as defensive coordinator in Philadelphia. The Eagles posted the second-most takeaways (128) in the league during that stretch and ranked third in the NFL with 152 sacks—including 57 quarterbacks takedowns by White to represent the highest three-year total in history.

Phillips’ first coordinator position came with New Orleans from 1981-85, working under his father and Head Coach Bum Phillips. Led by Jackson, who was selected by the club in the second round (51st overall) of the 1981 NFL Draft, Phillips’ defenses were among the best in the league, especially during a three-year stretch from 1982- 84 when the Saints ranked second in total defense (297.9 ypg) and fifth in sacks (142).

He served as interim head coach for the Saints during the last four games of the 1985 season, earning a 29-3 win against the Los Angeles Rams in his head coaching debut on Dec. 1, 1985.

Phillips began his NFL career as linebackers coach for Bum Phillips and the Houston Oilers in 1976 before moving on to coach the club’s defensive line from 1977-80. Houston advanced to the AFC Championship Game in 1978 and 1979 as Elvin Bethea earned Pro Bowl selections following both of those years playing for Phillips.

A linebacker at the University of Houston from 1966-68, Phillips began his coaching career with his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 1969.

He spent three years (1970-72) as defensive coordinator at Orange (Texas) High School before working as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University (1973-74) and the University of Kansas (1975).

Phillips, who was born on June 21, 1947, in Orange, Texas, played linebacker at Port Neches-Grove High School in Port Neches, Texas. Phillips and his wife, Laurie, have a son, Wesley, the tight ends coach for the Washington Redskins, and a daughter, Tracy, who is a professional actress, dancer and choreographer in Hollywood, Calif.

 

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