Wade Phillips told McNairs to draft Manziel

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
4:27
PM ET
If you miss Thursdays with Wade Phillips, good news!

The former Texans defensive coordinator spent about an hour on the radio this morning with Nick Wright and John Lopez, rehashing last season and looking forward.

The guys asked him who the best player in the draft is, regardless of team needs.

"You always have to worry about need anyway," Phillips said. "When I did the interview with the McNairs, I told them they ought to take 'Johnny Football.' And I'm sitting here now, so I don't know what they're going to do."

[+] EnlargeWade Phillips
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsWade Phillips has been a coach in the NFL since 1976.
He added the last part with a laugh.

"Just the times I've seen him, what he did against a really great Alabama team two years ago, to make the kind of plays he made," Phillips said. "I had Flutie at the end of his career, he was a lot older at that time. Those kind of guys who can make first downs when you're not supposed to, they give you something."

Phillips noted that he thinks Case Keenum could "come along" and said he isn't sure what Matt Schaub's future holds, but that Manziel makes plays nobody else can make.

"I thought it would be the Earl Campbell of Houston; the reincarnation," Phillips said. "Having a Heisman Trophy winner come to Houston, from Texas, from the state of Texas. I just thought it'd be a neat deal."

Some other topics they discussed:

  • "The McNairs were great to my dad and I never can repay them enough for that."
  • Phillips was asked if his age had anything to do with why he doesn't have a job yet. He said, chuckling "I wish it was, because I could get a good lawsuit going." He also said there were several coaches who were candidates for head jobs they didn't get who said if they were hired they would've brought him on as defensive coordinator. "There may be a consulting position that I can help with the defense somewhere, or even a position coach. I'm open to it."
  • That led Wright to astutely ask why Phillips would take a job as a position coach. "I'd just like to stay in the league. Once you get out of it, you can get caught."
  • In discussing what went into drafting J.J. Watt: "We looked at Aldon Smith, he was high on our list because we needed an outside 'backer. He was taken quickly, which surprised a lot of people and didn't surprise us. It came down to the next deal, we said we could move Mario [Williams] outside, then we need a defensive lineman, because Mario wasn't an inside 3-4 defensive end, more outside 4-3, kind of guy. We wanted him coming from the outside. We said maybe we could take a defensive lineman instead of the second best or third best outside linebacker."
  • On Ed Reed's play: "I was obviously surprised because we watched him the year before. He still had that zip. We didn't know as a staff -- overall as a team I don't know if we knew or didn't know -- he had an operation on his hip that turned out to be a real problem for us."
  • On Ed Reed's post-departure shots at the Texans: "I've never had a problem with any player. I've never had a player come out -- I don't know if he took a shot at me, I think he said I was the reason he was gone because we demoted him. The Jets did that at the end of the year, they played him only on third downs ... He's going to be in the Hall of Fame and he certainly deserves it. He had trouble moving when he was with us, coming off a major injury."

Tania Ganguli

ESPN Houston Texans reporter

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