Wade Phillips returns to NFL as Broncos’ defensive coordinator
Wade Phillips is returning to Denver as Gary Kubiak’s defensive coordinator.
Phillips, 67, interviewed for the position this week after the Broncos were rebuffed in their attempts to speak with Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph about the position. Joseph, who has a year left on his contract in Cincinnati, had interviewed for the Broncos head coaching vacancy following John Fox’s ouster earlier this month.
Phillips was Kubiak’s defensive coordinator in Houston from 2011-13 and replaced him as interim coach when Kubiak was fired by the Texans in December 2013.
Phillips has also served as head coach of the Saints, Cowboys, Falcons, Bills and Broncos, where he went 16-16 from 1993-94. He was out of football last season for the first time since 1975.
Under Phillips, the Broncos figure to capitalize on their pass-rushing duo of Pro Bowlers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware by playing more of a 3-4 defense, with three down linemen and four linebackers.
Under Fox the last four seasons they were primarily a 4-3 team.
Taking on an added urgency under such a switch would be the re-signing of soon-to-be free agent nose tackle Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton because the fulcrum of a 3-4 alignment is a stout run-stuffer who can command double teams.
Knighton has said he wants to finish his career in Denver, but he’s also said he wants to keep playing for Jack Del Rio, who was hired as Oakland’s head coach after the Broncos bowed out of the playoffs. Del Rio drafted Knighton in Jacksonville and was his defensive coordinator in Denver.
Also Wednesday, the Broncos hired tight ends coach Brian Pariani and agreed to terms with Joe Woods to coach their defensive backs. Woods was Oakland’s secondary coach in 2014.
Pariani brings 24 years of NFL coaching experience, including 19 as a tight ends coach, to Denver, where he also coached the tight ends from 1995-2004.
His prize pupils then were Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe and Pro Bowler Dwayne Cars well. This time, it could be Pro Bowler Julius Thomas and Virgil Green — providing the Broncos re-sign them. They are among Denver’s dozen unrestricted free agents come March and general manager John Elway has said he’d like to keep them in Denver.
Last season Pariani coached the tight ends in Baltimore, where Kubiak was offensive coordinator. He also coached tight ends during Kubiak’s entire eight-year tenure with the Texans.