Wade Phillips has been a fixture on NFL sidelines for most of the last four decades as a defensive coordinator or head coach, but 2014 was the rare season that unfolded without Phillips being a part of any team.
He got his chance to return with the Broncos after Gary Kubiak was hired as head coach and brought Phillips on board as defensive coordinator in a reprise of their partnership with the Texans. The play of the Broncos defense this season has been a reminder of why Phillips has lasted so long as well as a reminder of the role chance can play in the NFL.
Phillips wasn’t the Broncos’ first choice for a coordinator — their attempt to interview then-Bengals assistant and current Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph was rebuffed — and he said Monday that he feels lucky to be coaching in the Super Bowl for the second time in his career.
“I do. I’m lucky to be where I am in some ways,” Phillips said. “I think I’ve earned a lot of it, but you still have to be lucky. Just look how this year turned out. I didn’t have a job last year. I thought I was going to get one, guys that thought they were going to get a job didn’t get it. This year, pretty much the same thing was happening and I did get the interview at Washington, didn’t get that job. And I was second place at Denver, but it worked out great for me. Sometimes you’re at the right place at the right time.”
It’s impossible to know how things would have worked out for the Broncos if they hired Joseph. Given how good their defense has been and how good they’ve needed it to be this season, though, it’s hard to imagine anyone would want to go back in time and replay the 2015 season without Phillips at the reins of the unit.