On the heels of a great day for the Houston Texans comes a scary development.
Per John Clayton, Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will interview Friday for the vacant head-coaching job in Tampa Bay.
Phillips had undergone a spectacular career renaissance in Houston. Fired as head coach in Dallas during the 2010 season, he’s shaped a 3-4 scheme and influenced personnel decisions for Houston and overseen the team’s climb all the way to No. 2 in the NFL defensive rankings.
He’s a leading candidate for any assistant coach of the year award, and got my vote in a Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America ballot I submitted on Saturday.
The Texans went two games without him late in the regular season after he had kidney and gallbladder surgery, losing both with linebackers coach Reggie Herring filling Phillips’ post. He’s still not fully recovered, and players spoke after Saturday’s win over Cincinnati of wanting to succeed for him.
“From the scheme to his attitude and just his mindset, that’s really just taken over this defense,” linebacker Brian Cushing said. “To see him there, still not 100 percent, but out there and battling every day, you can tell he’s hurting still. Just how much he misses football and wants to be out there for the guys, we just want to play well for him.”
Phillips has a strong connection to Houston, and this would be a difficult gig for him to walk away from. But he has said his aim is to get a top job again.
Saturday he wasn’t letting on that anything was in the works, he was just reveling in a big day.
“It’s really special for the city,” Phillips said after the 31-10 win over the Bengals that earned the Texans a trip to Baltimore. “I’m a Houstonian and I think it’s great for the city and that’s the way I feel. I mean, I’m a fan, too, and it’s great for all of us.”