Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate DNVR Sports Community!

Could Wade Phillips reignite the Orange Crush?

Ian St. Clair Avatar
July 17, 2015

Wade Phillips knows defense better than you.

He knows defense better than just about anyone on the planet. Phillips takes that knowledge and creates success. The most recent example is his time with the Houston Texans as the defensive coordinator.

As Bucky Brooks from NFL.com points out, Phillips transformed a defense that ranked dead last in pretty much every statistical category in 2010 into the No. 2-ranked defense in the NFL. He also did that without a Pro Bowl player on his roster.

Imagine what Phillips could do with the talent on the Denver Broncos defense. If he could take a defense that was the worst in the league and the very next season make it one of the best, with nowhere near the talent, there’s no end to what he could do with the Broncos. When you pair him with new Broncos defensive line coach Bill Kollar and his other assistants, you have the makings for something really special on that Denver defense.

The return of the Orange Crush is closer than we think.

The last time Phillips was in this position with the Broncos he had one of the best defenses in the NFL. It was at the end of the Orange Crush days. Gone were Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson, Louis Wright and Billy Thompson. What will this Denver defense look like? How will it compare or even live up to those great defenses from just a few years ago?

It’s fair to say that defense did alright. Phillips created a defense that allowed Karl Mecklenburg and Simon Fletcher to do their thing – rush the quarterback. That allowed the secondary, led by Dennis Smith and a young Steve Atwater, to dominate.

The unit Phillips has now can be even better than that Broncos defense.

For some that’s not enough. They can’t look past his failed stints as a head coach, one with the Broncos in the early 1990s (he still has a record above .500, so that’s not accurate to say either). They say Phillips isn’t nasty and mean enough. What does that mean anyway? You can either coach or you can’t. You know defense or you don’t. They say he’s a retread and won’t bring anything fresh. If you look above, that’s complete nonsense.

Phillips is one of the brightest defensive minds football has seen the last 30 years. This is his eighth stop as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. Here are two examples of his success in that role, look up the other five and you will see much of the same.

But that’s not the only reason Gary Kubiak brought Phillips back to Denver. There’s no doubt familiarity breeds into that since they worked together in Houston. It also goes back to Kubiak’s playing days in Denver when Phillips was the defensive coordinator here.

This goes deeper than that. This goes beyond that. Phillips is a Bronco. He knows what the organization is about. He knows what the goal is. He’s lived it. He’s breathed it.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the last two coaching staffs didn’t get that. The expectations that come with being the head coach in Denver crushed them. One didn’t get it or care, the other had one foot out the door and quit.

If Phillips wasn’t a defensive genius, this wouldn’t work. There’s no way Kubiak would hire Phillips for his defensive coordinator. But when you see what Phillips did in Houston with a defense that is nowhere near the level of the Broncos, there’s no wonder why Kubiak did.

This was a move the new Denver head coach had to make. If he didn’t, Kubiak would be doing a disservice to the players on the defense and the organization.

Fans have their favorites. They have the guys they think are “the guy” because they meet their criteria and bring what they think the Denver defense needs. Jim Schwartz, Teryl Austin and Vance Joseph are the most ballyhooed by Broncos Country – still. Even after you hear what Phillips wants to do and how he will get this defense to shake free from the ghosts of Jack Del Rio.

There’s one huge piece that makes Phillips stand out above the rest and it goes beyond his mind and success as a defensive coordinator: He’s a Bronco. He knows what this organization is about. He knows the expectation that comes with that.

Right now, that’s what the Broncos need more than anything.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?