On Sunday, Super Bowl 50 will very likely be decided based primarily on what Wade Phillips top-rated Denver Broncos defense can do to slow down the NFL’s highest-scoring offense and its MVP quarterback.
Exactly two years prior to that, I wrote a post right here asking how in the world Phillips was unemployed.
It made no sense.
Phillips hadn’t been a particularly successful head coach, winning just one playoff game in 12 seasons with the Saints, Broncos, Bills, Falcons, Cowboys and Texans (although he was only an interim head coach in New Orleans, Atlanta and Houston). But as a defensive coordinator, Phillips was — and remains — magic.
Phillips has now had a top-10 defense in eight of his last nine seasons as a coach or coordinator, dating back to 2006 in San Diego. That’s in four different cities.
It doesn’t matter where Phillips is coaching. His defenses are always good.
In 1988, the Broncos ranked 20th in football in terms of points allowed. They hired Phillips as defensive coordinator in 1989 and immediately ranked first in the same category. They also shot up from 22nd to third in terms of yards allowed and 24th to second when it came to takeaways.
In 1994, the Bills ranked 22nd in scoring defense. Then they hired Phillips and shot up to 12th.
In 2001, the Falcons ranked 24th in terms of points allowed. Then they hired Phillips and shot up to eighth.
In 2003, the Chargers ranked 31st in the same category and 31st when it came to takeaways. Then they hired Phillips and immediately ranked in the top 10 in both fields.
In 2006, the Cowboys ranked 20th in scoring defense. Then they hired Phillips and in 2007 they ranked 13th.
In 2010, the Texans ranked 29th in the league in points allowed and 30th in yards allowed. Then they hired Phillips, and in 2011 they finished fourth and second, respectively.
Finally, in 2014, the Broncos ranked 16th in terms of points allowed. Then they hired Phillips and in 2015 they ranked fourth.
Wade Phillips, magician. Don’t count the man out on Sunday.