ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Having been rebuffed in their attempt to hire their first choice for defensive coordinator, the Denver Broncos continued to reach into their past to round out Gary Kubiak's coaching staff.
The team has contacted former Broncos head coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, multiple sources said Thursday. The move comes as the Broncos have been unable to secure Cincinnati Bengals defensive backs coach Vance Joseph as their defensive coordinator.
The Bengals have blocked Joseph from taking the job because he is under contract. By league rules, the only time an assistant coach under contract cannot be prevented from taking a new job is the move from coordinator to head coach.
The Broncos interviewed Joseph for the team's head-coaching job two days before team officials met Kubiak in Houston on Sunday. Kubiak was formally introduced as the Broncos' new coach on Tuesday.
The team has continued its efforts to hire Joseph, hoping the Bengals will reconsider. However, the latest approach to Phillips is no surprise, given he served on Kubiak's Houston Texans staff from 2011 to 2013.
Phillips took over as Texans interim head coach 13 games into the 2013 season after Kubiak was fired. The Texans were 30th in total defense in 2010, 29th in scoring defense and last in the league in pass defense when Kubiak looked to Phillips to repair the unit.
The team selected defensive end J.J. Watt in the first round of the 2011 draft and Phillips pushed the improved unit to No. 2 in total defense in 2011, No. 4 in scoring defense. The Texans were also No. 7 in total defense in 2012 and were No. 7 in total defense in 2013, even as the team finished 2-14.
If the Broncos close the deal to hire Phillips, it would require some juggling of personnel. The situation will depend on whether the team runs a 3-4 defense, as Phillips has in his time as a defensive play-caller, or some adjustment on Phillips' part to meld the Broncos' personnel into a 4-3, 3-4 mix.
Phillips was the Broncos' head coach in 1993 and 1994, after which he was fired following a 7-9 finish. He was 16-17 overall, including a loss in the 1993 wild-card round.
Phillips was the Broncos' defensive coordinator from 1989 to 1992.
Also Thursday, the Broncos hired Bill Kollar as their defensive line coach after Texans coach Bill O'Brien let him out of his contract.
Kubiak already has filled out the team's offensive staff, with Rick Dennison as coordinator, and Joe DeCamillis hired as special teams coordinator.
The Broncos are expected to retain linebackers coach Richard Smith. He, too, was on Kubiak's staff in Houston and spent the past four seasons on John Fox's staff.