CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The fallout from Gary Kubiak's departure will have far-reaching repercussions, beginning with his coaching staff.
The turnover could be enormous depending on the next coach. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, whose unit spearheaded last year's Super Bowl victory, told Denver7 on Sunday night he wants to return. His contract, however, is up, and his status became even more tenuous with Kubiak's departure.
"I want to be here," Phillips said. "I don't want to go anywhere else."
The Broncos finished first in pass defense for the second straight season, anchored by the No Fly Zone secondary. Denver ranked sixth in points allowed, and, outside of the Kansas City Chiefs loss at home, the defenders kept the Broncos within striking distance as the offense fizzled. However, the defense showed a flaw this season, ranking 29th against the run (135.2 compared to 83.6 last year). Defensive end Malik Jackson's departure in free agency and Vance Walker's season-ending knee injury in training camp undermined the ground defense.
Players speak highly of Phillips. He has shown a willingness to adapt and relate to his players over his 46-year coaching career, including 38 seasons in the pros. But as with most teams, a new coach typically has a strong say in his staff. The Broncos are known to be high on secondary coach Joe Woods, among others. After the team was unable to pry Vance Joseph away from the Bengals, Phillips joined Kubiak's staff in February 2016. He immediately connected with players who embraced his aggressive 3-4 defense after feeling constricted under Jack Del Rio's assignment-heavy philosophy.
Despite the defense's 2015 dominance, Phillips was unable to land a contract extension following the Super Bowl win.
"It's tough. I feel like we have the best defensive position coaches there are," linebacker Shane Ray said. "I would love to keep working with all them every single day. But that's how the business goes."
Added cornerback Chris Harris, "It is kind of nerve-wracking when you don't know what is going to happen."