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Phillips with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007
Phillips with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007

Wade Phillips (born June 21, 1947[1]) is an American football coach who is the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). He also served two stints as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, where his team was Super Bowl finalists in his first stint and champions in his second stint. He has served as head coach of the NFL's Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys. He was also an interim head coach for the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and the Houston Texans. His career winning percentage as a head coach is .546. Phillips is considered to be among the best defensive coordinators in the NFL.

Early career


Phillips attended Port Neches–Groves High School in Port Neches, Texas, and went on to the University of Houston, where he was a three-year starter at linebacker from 1966 to 1968. He held the school record for career assisted tackles[2] (228) until 2011 when the record was broken by Marcus McGraw.[3]

Phillips began his coaching career as a graduate assistant to Bill Yeoman at the University of Houston in 1969. From 1970 to 1972 he served as defensive coordinator at the former Lutcher Stark High School (now West Orange-Stark High School) in Orange, Texas. He then coached the linebackers at Oklahoma State University from 1973 to 1974, under his father, Bum Phillips, who was OSU defensive coordinator at that time. In 1975, Phillips coached the defensive line at the University of Kansas under head coach Bud Moore.[4]

NFL coaching


Phillips began his professional coaching career with the Houston Oilers, head-coached by his father. He served as the linebackers coach in 1976, and the defensive line coach from 1977 to 1980.

Wade remained on his father's staff as the pair headed for New Orleans. Bum stepped down as head coach of a struggling Saints team in late 1985, and Wade stepped in as interim head coach.

Wade spent the next three years as the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wade Phillips then spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. The Broncos reached Super Bowl XXIV, where they lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 55–10. Phillips replaced Dan Reeves as head coach for the Broncos in 1993, but was fired after a mediocre 1994 season in which management felt he lost control of the team.

Phillips enjoyed a successful coaching stop at Buffalo. He always kept the team competitive and in the playoff hunt. A loss to the Titans in the 1999 playoffs haunted Phillips for the rest of his time at Buffalo. Prior to the game, Phillips made the controversial decision to start Rob Johnson at quarterback, after Doug Flutie was the starter the whole year and led the team to the playoffs.

Before the 2007 season,[5] Phillips was named the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, replacing the retired Bill Parcells. This was the most successful coaching stop for Phillips. He was chosen after Jerry Jones interviewed 10 potential replacements, including former Cowboys and former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner, former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and former Cowboys quarterback Jason Garrett. In the 2007 NFL playoffs, he led the Cowboys to another playoff loss, making his playoff record 0–5. The Cowboys failed to make the playoffs in 2008, as the season ended with a 44–6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, preventing a wild card playoff berth.

Prior to the 2009 season, Phillips also took over as defensive coordinator, replacing the fired Brian Stewart. Phillips called defensive plays for the final 10 games of the 2008 season after Stewart was stripped of the responsibilities.[6] In the 2009–10 playoffs,[7] Phillips's Cowboys defeated the Eagles in the wild card round, ending the club's 12-year playoff win drought (6 games total, Phillips was only coach for one of those losses) and earning Phillips his first playoff win.[8] Following the 2009 season, Phillips signed a contract extension through the 2011 season.[9] However, he was fired by the Cowboys on November 8, 2010, following the second-worst start in franchise history (one win in their first eight games) punctuated by a 45–7 loss to the Green Bay Packers.[10]

Prior to the 2011 season,[11] Phillips was hired as the defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans replacing Frank Bush, who was released by Texans owner Bob McNair.[12] The Texans defense made major improvements on defense in Phillips's first year calling Houston's defense. Houston allowed the fourth-fewest points in the league in 2011 (compared to fourth-most in 2010), the second-fewest yards allowed (third-most in 2010) and third-fewest yards per play (4.8, compared to 6.0, second-worst in 2010). On November 3, 2013, Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at the end of the first half of the Texans-Colts game; he was then hospitalized at a local hospital. In Kubiak's absence, Phillips was given the head coaching duties as the acting head coach for the remainder of the game. On November 6, 2013, the Texans and Kubiak decided to temporarily hand Phillips the head coaching duties, and named him the interim head coach until Kubiak was medically cleared to return. Exactly one month later, Kubiak was fired after his team had lost 11 games in a row. Once again, Phillips served as interim head coach for the Texans until the end of the season, when former Penn State head coach and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was hired as the new head coach.[13] When Phillips was dismissed by Houston, this ended a continuous run where he had coached football at the high school, college, and NFL levels.[14]

On January 28, 2015, Phillips joined Gary Kubiak's staff at the Denver Broncos as the defensive coordinator; Phillips' second stint at that position with the team. Phillips replaced his predecessor's complex wait-and-react scheme with a simple style of going after the ball, making Denver the top-ranked defense that season which carried the team to a 12–4 record and the number one seed in the AFC despite their offensive struggles. In Super Bowl 50, played on February 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, California, the game was seen by some as a contest between Phillips and Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula, as both of them were sons of well-known NFL coaches, and as Carolina had the top-ranked offense in the 2015 regular season.[15] Denver's defense shut down Carolina and Cam Newton in a 24–10 victory, giving Phillips the first Super Bowl victory of his career.[14]

Following the retirement of Kubiak as head coach after the 2016 season, Phillips was replaced by Joe Woods as the defensive coordinator for the Broncos.[16]

After a successful stint with the Denver Broncos, Phillips left to become defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, alongside new head coach Sean McVay.

In Super Bowl LIII, Phillip's defense was credited with keeping the New England Patriots and Tom Brady out of the end zone until the fourth quarter, as the Rams only trailed by a field goal for the first three quarters despite the Patriots' offense having the majority of possession. The Patriots' offense had to resort to running the ball often which eventually tired out the Rams defensive line.[17] However, the Rams' top-ranked offense that game was stifled and they lost to the Patriots, 13–3.[18][19]

Head coaching record


Counting head coaching jobs as well as interim stints, Phillips has served as head coach for more teams in NFL history (six) than any other person.

Interim head coach

Coaching tree


NFL head coaches for whom Phillips has served:

Assistant coaches under Phillips who have become NFL or college head coaches:

Personal life


Wade is the son of former NFL coach Bum Phillips and Helen Wilson Phillips.[4] He adored his father, both personally and professionally, stating, "I was blessed to have him as a father and coach. I got to coach with him for 11 years. He taught me everything I know about coaching. He taught me right and wrong. He taught me to enjoy life."[20] Wade and wife Laurie met in 1964 at Port Neches–Groves High School, where he was the quarterback of the football team and she was the head cheerleader;[4] they have a daughter, Tracy, an actress, dancer, and choreographer living in Southern California, and a son, Wes, who is now serving alongside his father on the Los Angeles Rams staff as tight ends coach.

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