Since Wade Phillips is only two months removed from head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, I guess it’s still my duty to inform you that he is now the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans. Not that you really care, but it’s slightly comical, so maybe it’s worth it. On Monday, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak fired four of his defensive assistants, including defensive coordinator Frank Bush. Then it was announced on Wednesday that Phillips was the new defensive coordinator. If you thought the Cowboys’ defense was bad under Phillips this year, wait until you see what he has to work with now.
In the 2010 NFL season, the Texans ranked 3rd to last in total team defense. That number is a combination of a 13th-best run defense and a pass defense that came in at dead last in the league. However, the recently-boastful Phillips says he already knows how to fix the Houston defense. “I won’t go into specific things, but I look at things and try to see what I can do to help and get players better,” Phillips said. “I’ve got a lot of experience, so I think I know the kinds of things that can help players, and the schemes that can help them. That’s what you do as a football coach.”
Another part of being a football coach is motivating your astronomically high-paid players to perform at a professional level. That part of the job is a little tougher for the oh-so-experienced Phillips. Curious? The evidence is in the enchiladas. The Cowboys’ defense gave up very similar yardage and points per game over Phillips’ 8-game stretch as head coach and Jason Garret’s. The key difference is turnovers, which leads to victories. The Dallas defense only forced 9 turnovers under Phillips while producing 19 under Garrett. Phillips’ unit only managed 37 points directly from turnovers while Garrett’s produced 73. The obvious difference is the record. Phillips went 1-7 over the first half of the season and Garrett went 5-3 over the second half. So for argument’s sake, the Cowboys would have went 2-14 this year under Phillips and 10-6 under Garrett if those numbers were stretched out over the entire 16-game season.
The lingering connection between Phillips and Dallas is his trying to bring some of his assistants with him down I-45. Both Cowboys assistant secondary coach Brett Maxie and linebackers coach Reggie Herring worked under Dom Capers in Houston back in 2002 and then under Phillips in Dallas. “We’re trying to move as quickly as we can, but we want to get the right people,” Phillips said. “We’ll look at everybody who’s available. Some of them on the Cowboys’ staff are unavailable right now.” So he wants to bring the whole staff with him, but he knows he can’t? I know humans are creatures of habit, so we want familiarity around us, but this guy needs to realize it’s time to move on. Heck, if anybody in the world needs a fresh start, it’s Wade Phillips. With Garrett now the permanent replacement for Phillips, it’s time for yet another fresh start for the Cowboys as well.