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Thursday, September 20, 2012
How Phillips fares against Manning

By Paul Kuharsky

The Atlanta Falcons defense was shapeless for a long time against Peyton Manning, disguising for as long as possible before players got to their spots.

It was very effective at confusing Manning, who struggled against the Falcons.

But it doesn't mean Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will be adopting an amoeba defense in a week.

The Texans are a good defense doing their own thing.

“I thought they were outstanding a year ago,” Denver Broncos coach John Fox said this week. “I think Wade has done a fantastic job. They’ve got good personnel. They play very hard. They play very sound. The two looks we’ve got in the regular season, they’ve been outstanding as well. We expect a very talented, tough defense coming to Denver.”

I asked Katie Sharp of ESPN Stats and Info to pull together what Phillips’s defenses have done against Manning. It’s not been great.

“They have a different defensive coordinator since the last time I played them -- I didn’t play last year since Coach Phillips has gotten there -- and they have some new players,” Manning told Houston media on a conference call this week. “They sure are playing well, that certainly jumps out on film, and guys flying around and really doing a lot of good things on defense, so it’ll be a tough challenge...

“A very well-coached defense, very disciplined. You have to have certain types of players to make that defense work and he has those guys at certain spots, and you can see how it’s all working together with the scheme and with the players, so that’s why they’re playing really well right now, in my opinion.”

Phillips will certainly want to confuse Manning -- when isn’t that the key to beating a good quarterback? But while the Texans can bring pressure from different spots, they’re awfully talented. If they beat the Broncos and Manning I think we’ll be talking more about players than scheme.