Wade Phillips draws up a defensive game plan like no other.
When it comes to life, his game plan also shows signs of pure genius.
The Denver Broncos defensive coordinator is one special man.
We’re always told “you’re as young as you feel.” Well, the “Son of Bum” is 68 going on 8. Phillips is an example to us all how to keep the inner child alive. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and savors each second he gets. We should follow his lead.
He loves what he does. He loves life. He’s genuine.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s the best in the NFL at what he does. But consider this: Last year at this time he had just been hired by the Broncos to become their defensive coordinator. That’s after he spent the previous season out of football. Prior to his hire in Denver, 21 other teams passed him by.
If there was ever a time to feel down in the dumps, that was it. He may have wondered if he would ever get the chance to do what he loves again. Would someone hire him?
But Phillips didn’t give up. He remained resolute in who he is. If he did get the chance, he would take full advantage of it. It’s not like Phillips didn’t have success at his previous job with the Houston Texans. As Bucky Brooks from NFL.com pointed out, Phillips transformed a defense that ranked dead last in pretty much every statistical category in 2010 into the No. 2-ranked defense in the NFL. He also did that without a Pro Bowl player. And he did that in his first season on the job.
So there was evidence for those 21 teams who hired defensive coaches.
Wonder how they feel about that decision now?
With that knowledge of Phillips’ previous success, the talent the Broncos had and coaching staff in place, there was no limitation to what the defense could do. Of course it helps to have familiarity with the people who hired him. This made the decision to hire Phillips a simple one.
Then the season started and it surpassed what people thought.
Then it became consistent.
Then people started to have “greatest of all-time” discussions.
Then the playoffs happened and there was no longer any doubt.
What the Broncos did in an era when the game is geared toward offense is historic. Do it against the teams, offenses and quarterbacks that Denver did, and it makes it even more special.
Teams knew what they needed to do beat the Broncos, and they still couldn’t get it done. There were no surprises. Can your best beat that? That’s the mark of greatness. What Denver did against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers is the greatest defensive performance we have ever seen in the Super Bowl.
What makes all of this even better is that Phillips made it happen. And not just because of the absurd game plans he created in the playoffs to cement himself as a defensive genius.
What makes a coach great isn’t just the Xs and Os. Does he bring out the best in his players? Does he allow them to do what they do best - on the field and off?
A great coach doesn’t force players to fit his system, but adjusts his system to fit his players.
You want a historic defense that wins a Lombardi Trophy? Follow the lead of Phillips.
You want your players to respect you? You show them who you really are. You let them in. You have fun with them. You show them it’s not just about football.
That means dancing with them. That means “drippin’” with them.
Oh, and that means owning Twitter when you get on and are able to troll with the best of them. Even if that means your head coach says, “He gets carried away with that Twitter sometimes.”
But Gary Kubiak knows better than anyone how much fun Phillips has and the great person he is.
“Wade, the job he did was special,” Kubiak told the media the day after the Super Bowl win. “He’s been a tremendous coach in this league. He was a helluva head coach, assistant coach. I gave him a hug at the end of the game.
“What a career Wade has had, and I’m just so fortunate that he’s been a part of mine also.”
With all of the talk of Peyton Manning and DeMarcus Ware, even longtime owner Pat Bowlen, what’s been lost in the shuffle is that Phillips won his first Super Bowl.
The last time he coached in the NFL’s pinnacle game, his Denver defense was rolled by Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV.
It’s safe to say Super Bowl 50 had a smoother feel to it as it went down. The only way this could get better for Phillips is if his dad, legendary former coach Bum Phillips, was here to experience it with him.
“I said, ‘You know how proud your dad would be of you today,’” Kubiak said.
That’s one instance where Phillips will lose his customary smile. It also shows you the huge heart he has.
But right on cue, at the Broncos’ post-game party on Sunday night at the team hotel, Phillips was dancing and dabbing up on stage.
At 68 going on 8, you shouldn’t expect anything less.
The “Son of Bum” shows us all how to keep our inner child alive.
He really is a genius.