For the first half of the NFL season, Wade Phillips was the punching bag of the league. Whether it was his sideline expressions or his Dallas Cowboys’ poor play and sometimes even poorer decisions, it was pretty easy to hop on the bandwagon of making fun of Dallas’ front man.
That hasn’t got Phillips down.
The veteran coach and respected defensive mind landed on his feet as the defensive coordinator with the Houston Texans, where he plans to implement his 3-4 scheme that he’s known for. Someday, and given the immediate future of the NFL’s labor agreement who knows when it will be, maybe we can all forget about the man who became known as the irritated mall Santa.
Wade Phillips joined KILT in Houston with Shaun and Barry to discuss his final weeks in Dallas, his current job, what he sees in the Houston Texans’ defensive players, putting this past year behind him, getting Brian Cushing back on the right track and switching to the 3-4 scheme.
What he was thinking during his last few weeks in Dallas:
“When you win the most games in the NFC in the previous three years and you’re halfway into the season … it still surprises you. Those things happen. It’s all part of what happens.”
On whether he’s faced the fact that he may never be a head coach in the NFL again:
“I love coaching and I’m really happy to be here and this might be the best job I’ve ever had, even though I’m not a head coach. I almost had this job the first time around because they offered it to me when my dad got fired here. I’m really glad. … I don’t really like to look back on things, I look forward to the next opportunity.”
What he sees from the current Houston personnel:
“I’m so impressed about how hard they played. Obviously they didn’t play well at times or things they didn’t do well, but they showed a lot of heart. … We’ve got to shore up a few things and get some things better, but I just like the heart of the team.”
How he’ll put together a new scheme right away given the uncertainty of the league:
“I think everybody knows that, defensively, we put in things and caught them quickly and had young players play quickly. Whenever it is, they’ll give us time to put in what we need to put in.”
On putting the Cowboys and the past year behind him:
“I really don’t want to get into all that. … I’m still proud of what I’ve done as a coach. We had a tough year this year, or half a year. Who knows what would have happened the last half of the year? I’m ready to move on and look forward to this team. I really don’t want to talk about that.”
Can he get Brian Cushing to bounce back and be a playmaker?:
“I think he will be. I think he’s certainly got the ability but also you can see on film … his demeanor on the field and his competitiveness, it shows that he wants to do well. … I think he’ll get better and better.”
Why he wants to switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4:
“I go back to what we’ve done and I don’t have the exact stats, but in the last six years, and that’s two different teams, I’m sure we’ve averaged in the top three in the NFL in sacks in those six years. … It’s all the front seven. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to play in a system like that. Guys in the past that I’ve had, the Bruce Smiths and on and on, they’ve had success.”