It’s been almost 40 years for Wade Phillips in the NFL, working his way up from position coach to a usually successful head coach. Despite his record with teams like the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys or his reputation as an excellent defensive coordinator, there seems to be zero interest in his talents for the head coaching position this offseason, with most opening already being filled.
I’m not sure Phillips want to enter the situation in Cleveland, but his tweet yesterday highlights the absurdity in the reality of him not even getting a single interview offer from NFL teams, proving that despite his resume, something about his image and his age doesn’t really sit right for certain teams.
Disappointed not even an interview after 7 straight full seasons of top 10 D with 3 different teams. Last 5 times as D C= playoffs1st yr
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) January 15, 2014
Phillips spent some time on the sidelines as a interim head coach with the Texans this season. Gary Kubiak’s health issues forced him into that role after being the team’s DC since 2011, being a big part of the team making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history two years in a row. Previously he was mostly successful with the Cowboys from 2007 to 2010, making the playoffs twice. He was fired in the middle of the 2010 season (Tony Romo was out for most of it) after a 1-7 start, the worst in franchise history.
The circle of life for NFL head coaches means that after getting fired, a coach will get a coordinator job and if he does well he enters the pool of potential head coach candidates after a couple of years. Phillips should be in that “circle of trust” but for various reasons, he isn’t.
Most teams that are getting rid of their head coaches enter some sort of rebuilding mode, even if sometimes it’s only about making minor fixes. Unless an older head coach has Super Bowl experience (which Phillips doesn’t), they almost always go for a younger guy. The way things ended for Phillips in Dallas and his age (66) just didn’t fit the equation of this round of hiring across the NFL.
Maybe it’s a sign for Phillips to leave the game he’s been a part of as a coach for the last 44 years since taking on the Graduate Assistant role at the University of Houston, especially if his goal is to still be a head coach, something that’s not likely to happen again. Maybe it’s also a sign for him to stick to what he’s best at, and that is being a defensive coordinator. If he wants to stay in the NFL no matter what, that’s probably his best chance of “survival”.