The Rams announced Monday afternoon that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' contract will not be renewed.
"Coach Wade has been a veteran voice in heading our defense for the past three seasons," Rams head coach Sean McVay said in a statement. "His wealth of experience, sound advice, and helpful demeanor has been invaluable to our coaches and players, and also has set an example for me as a head coach and a leader of men. I thank Coach Phillips for his numerous contributions to the Los Angeles Rams and our community, and I wish he, his wife Laurie, and the rest of the Phillips family the best."
Serving in that role on McVay's staff since McVay joined the organization in 2017, Phillips helped Los Angeles win back-to-back NFC West titles in 2017 and 2018. The Rams ranked 12th in scoring defense in Phillips' first season, holding opponents to 20.6 points per game. They ranked third in the league in takeaways (30) during Phillips' second season, which saw the Rams reach their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.
Despite losing several key starters, Phillips' unit still managed to improve from 19th to 13th in the NFL in total defense, going from 358.6 yards allowed per game in 2018 to 339.6 in 2019.
Prior to the season finale against the Cardinals, McVay spoke highly of Phillips' experience – 2019 marked his 42nd year coaching in the NFL – and how influential it was over the last three years.
"He's been great. Even from the very first time that we started working together," McVay said on Dec. 26. "His experience that he's had, to be able to draw on. I think our personalities, it's a good balance – in terms of some of the things where you see just how even-keeled he is, has helped. Like I've mentioned in a lot of different ways, he's always had a great perspective just based on his experience – whether it be as a head coach or as a coordinator, but it's never pushed on you. He's always willing to share and has a way that he thinks is the best way to be able to do it, but I've never felt like any of that was pushed on you."
Phillips took to Twitter to confirm the news and thank the Rams.
"I have been informed by the Rams that my contract will not be renewed," Phillips wrote. "I want to thank them for the opportunity to be a part of their success the last 3 years. Most of all I want to thank the players who I loved workings (sic) with. I still want to coach and feel I can contribute."
The feeling for the players was mutual.
Linebacker Samson Ebukam was among the first to offer a tribute to Phillips, thanking him for the words of wisdom he shared. Johnson, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, safety Eric Weddle and defensive lineman Michael Brockers also shared their appreciation via social media.