Tag:Wade Phillips
Posted on: January 8, 2012 3:04 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 3:25 pm
 

Texans Phillips to talk to Bucs; Mike Zimmer too?

Wade Phillips is going to talk to Tampa about their opening. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Earlier on Sunday we passed along the report that the Bucs might be closing in on naming Mike Sherman their next head coach. So it's interesting (very interesting actually) that the Buccaneers asked the Texans for permission to interview defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

And, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans gave Tampa Bay permission to talk with Wade and the two sides will speak on Friday.

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"I'm gratified somebody noticed," Phillips said, per McClain. "I don't want to leave Houston but I want to be a head coach. We'll talk and see how much interest [the Bucs] have in me."

Phillips has been a head coach at the NFL level three times. He went 16-16 as the Broncos head coach in 1993 and 1994, 29-19 as the Bills head coach from 1998-2000 and 34-22 as the Cowboys head coach from 2007-2010. He was also an interim head coach for four games with the Saints in 1985 and for three games with the Falcons in 2003.

Wade's gotten the lion's share of credit for turning the Texans defense from the NFL's worst unit in 2010 to the NFL's second-best unit in 2011. Even though the additions of Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning also helped, there's no question Phillips made a huge impact and his stock went way up after the Texans strong defensive performance this season.

Given the way the Buccaneers finished the season -- losing 10 straight in embarrassing defensive fashion and falling to 30th in the NFL in defense in the process -- talking with Phillips makes a lot of sense.

According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the Bucs will also speak with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Zimmer can interview and take the position at any point since Cincinnati's eliminated from the playoffs. But the Bucs can't actually hire Phillips until the Texans are knocked out, which would be Monday, January 16 at the earliest (Houston and Baltimore play that Sunday).

All of this makes it much less likely that Sherman's announced as the next coach within the week.

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 11:21 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 11:46 am
 

Film Room: Texans vs. Bengals wild-card preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


The Bengals managed to back-in to the playoffs despite going 1-6 against teams with a winning record. They may not seem like a dangerous playoff opponent, but if you’re the Texans – a team that’s 0-0 all-time in postseason play – every playoff opponent is dangerous. Here’s a breakdown of the Saturday afternoon wild card matchup.


1. Bengals run game vs. Texans front seven
Cincinnati’s methodical, power-based rushing attack (ranked 19th) struggles against fast defensive front sevens. Cedric Benson has more lateral agility than you’d guess, but he lacks the elite initial quickness to make dramatic cutbacks early in the run.

This lends a certain predictability to Cincinnati’s ground game. Less concerned about getting burned in their own over-pursuit, front seven defenders take a faster, more attack-oriented approach.

The Bengals counter this by overloading with six-man offensive lines and multiple lead-and motion-blockers. A speedy defense might trip them up early in the game, but the belief is Benson and his blockers can wear it down late.

That wasn’t the case when these teams met in Week 14. The Bengals tried to go to the ground to protect a late lead, but Benson totaled minus-five yards on five carries in the fourth quarter. Not only are the Texans’ linebackers collectively faster than any in the NFL, but defensive ends – J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith and Tim Jamison are elite penetrating run-stoppers.

If the Bengals want to sustain offense against Wade Phillips’ crew, they’ll have to go to the air.

2. Dalton and the passing attack
The second-rounder from TCU has been one of the steadiest, most cerebral game-managers in all of football this season. What Dalton lacks in arm strength he makes up for in timing, poise and confidence.

First-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has built a system ideally suited for Dalton, featuring play-action and rollouts, moving pockets and quick-strike reads to the slot and flats (hence the expanded joker role for tight end Jermaine Gresham). Dalton has the pocket toughness and moxie to make it work.

But that speedy front seven from Houston can jeopardize all this. It’s not just that the Texans sack quarterbacks (they ranked sixth in that department this season), it’s that they make them play fast. Connor Barwin’s and Brooks Reed’s relentless off the edge rattles pockets; J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith are two of the few 3-4 ends who can beat a pass-blocker with a quick first step; and perhaps most significant, inside linebacker

Brian Cushing blitzes with impeccable speed and timing. Cushing’s effectiveness in this sense is a big reason why Houston has frequently had success blitzing with just five rushers. Able to keep defenders back, the Texans have racked up gobs of coverage sacks.

Dalton is willing to hang in there against the blitz (worth noting is that last time these teams met, Phillips was more aggressive than usual, occasionally playing Cover 0 and bringing the entire gauntlet of defenders). He’s been just a tad inconsistent in his precision accuracy the last few games, and he quietly struggled throughout the year on deep balls. These issues, however, have not derived from hasty or flawed mechanics and aren’t prominent enough for a defense to intentionally exploit.

Green and Joseph will square off again in the playoffs. (Getty Images)

3. Johnathan Joseph on A.J. Green
The Bengals passing attack centers around the downfield acrobatics of A.J. Green. They take several deep shots a game with the rookie Pro Bowler – often off play-action from run formations – and have him clear out coverage for the underneath receivers in the flats.

Interestingly, Green will be guarded by Johnathan Joseph, the sensational ex-Bengals corner who’s now the fulcrum of Houston’s coverage schemes. Joseph is arguably the premier deep ball defender in the NFL. That’s a big reason why he’s in the select group of corners who truly shadow the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver week in and week out.

Joseph’s unique talent lends multiplicity and versatility to the rest of Houston’s secondary. That’s something Dalton and his ancillary targets must adjust to (one-on-one coverage for Jerome Simpson is not guaranteed this Saturday). The Joseph-Green matchup could very well decide the outcome. The last bout was a draw; Green finished with just 59 yards receiving but did have a tremendous 36-yard touchdown.

4. Bengals D vs. T.J. Yates
Even though it was Yates’ first start on the road, Gary Kubiak did not keep tight reigns on his fifth-round rookie quarterback at Cincinnati. He ran Houston’s regular passing attack, which is built around play-action off the stretch handoff (see: below), screens and downfield crossing patterns that attack man-to-man or Cover 3 (a zone the Bengals commonly play against base offensive personnel).

If you could characterize Gary Kubiak’s offense in one snapshot, this would be it. This is the stretch handoff, the most potent play in Houston’s zone run game. We froze the shot here because it’s indeterminable whether it’s a run or a play-action pass. Look at the Bengals back level defenders. The linebackers (53 Thomas Howard and 58 Rey Maualuga) have no choice but to flow right; the defensive backs are playing back and not attacking the run or their receiver.

The stretch handoff forces an entire defense to pause before committing to an attack. It presents a more dynamic play-action element because when it’s finally revealed whether the quarterback handed the ball off or kept it himself, the play has been unfolding for nearly two seconds (much longer than a traditional play-action). By this point, if it’s a handoff, the offensive linemen are further down their run-blocking paths; if it’s a pass, the receivers are further into their routes. Thus, any defenders who misdiagnoses the play is caught even further out of position than usual.

This is the case if the stretch play is executed well. As an offense, the risk is that when your stretch play is executed poorly, the drawn-out time elements work just as potently against you, as defenders that easily sniff out what you’re doing now have more time to react.

Kubiak trusted Yates to make plays; aside from a few short-armed throws, Yates responded extremely well. He exhibited his quick release, poise in the pocket and patience in progressions, completing 26 of 44 for 300 yards and engineering a brilliant 13-play, 80-yard game-winning touchdown drive.

Since then, Yates’ confidence has led to a few bad decisions. He had two atrocious interceptions in the loss to Carolina and did not push the ball downfield the next week when Indianapolis’ defense took away the crossing routes and rollout passes. There’s no telling how Yates might respond to unfamiliar looks in a playoff game.

A deep, lively defensive line has allowed Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to drift away from some of the high-risk pressure concepts that have long defined his system, but don’t be surprised if Zimmer throws a few safety/corner blitzes at the rookie on Saturday.

5. Texans zone run game
Even if they’re confident in Yates and finally have Andre Johnson at full force, the Texans will center their offensive attack around the ground game. Their front five is by far the best zone-blocking unit in the league – LT Duane Brown, C Chris Myers and RT Eric Winston have all had Pro Bowl caliber seasons – and they have the AFC’s best all-around runner in Arian Foster.

Compact 220-pound backup Ben Tate can also move the chains. The Bengals have a staunch run defense, thanks to meaty nose tackle Domata Peko and the great one-on-one play of his sidekick Geno Atkins. They also benefit from the athleticism at linebackers and the superb outside tackling of cornerback Nate Clements.

However, this defense did give up a big run to Ben Tate in Week 14 and got burned on huge runs by Ray Rice (who plays in a zone scheme similar to Houston’s) in both losses to Baltimore.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Wild Card games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: January 4, 2012 10:23 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:47 pm
 

2012 NFL Postseason Awards

Brees and Rodgers could square off three times this year, if you count awards. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We won't bore you by listing our preseason predictions (you can read those here), but suffice to say, all of mine were correct. Take a peak at the midseason hardware if you want too, but right now we're interested in dishing out the awards for the full season.


Speaking of which, I've already ranted on Drew Brees vs. Aaron Rodgers for the MVP, but I find it fascinating that at midseason, no one even picked Brees for Offensive Player of the Year, much less MVP. I'm not here to knock Brees, I'm just saying the award's for an entire season's worth of work.

Anyway, below are our full season picks. (You can also read Pete's full season picks here and Clark's full season picks here.)

Most are obvious but "BFA" is "Best Free Agent Addition," "WFA" is "Worst Free Agent Addition," and "DOH!" is "Pick I'd Like to Have Back." (Haha, yes I did pick the guy who eventually iced his own kicker to win "Coach of the Year." At least I was driving the Camwagon though.)

Dive in below and leave your gripes and complaints in the comments.

Award Brinson
Wilson
Katzowitz
Prisco
Judge
MVP
Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers
OPOY
Drew Brees Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Drew Brees Drew Brees
DPOY
Jared Allen Terrell Suggs Jared Allen Jason Pierre-Paul Jared Allen
OROY
Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton
DROY
Von Miller Aldon Smith Aldon Smith Von Miller Von Miller
COY
Marvin Lewis Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh
ASST
Rob Chudzinski Rob Chudzinski Wade Phillips Wade Phillips Wade Phillips
BFA
Darren Sproles Darren Sproles Darren Sproles Darren Sproles Darren Sproles
WFA
Sidney Rice Braylon Edwards Santonio Holmes Ray Edwards Ray Edwards
Comeback
Steve Smith D'Qwell Jackson Aaron Maybin Matthew Stafford Matthew Stafford
Most Improved
Matthew Stafford Antonio Brown Victor Cruz Rob Gronkowski Rob Gronkowski
Surprise
Bengals Broncos Broncos Bengals 49ers
Disappoint
Eagles Jets Eagles Eagles Eagles
Executive
Rick Smith Rick Smith Rick Smith Martin Mayhew Mike Brown
DOH!
Garrett for COY Rivers for MVP Rivers for MVP Fins in/Lions out Rams in NFCW

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 3:25 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 4:39 pm
 

Bum: Wade had tumor 'the size of a volleyball'

By Will Brinson

The Texans haven't revealed much about Wade Phillips health issue that left him sidelined for two of the team's final three games of the regular season, requesting that everyone respect Wade and his family's privacy. Well, Wade's family -- or, more specifically, his father Bum Phillips -- disclosed some details of Wade's condition recently.

According to Bob West of the Port Arther News, Bum, speaking at a Texas Bowl Gridirons Legend induction on Saturday, said that Wade had "a tumor the size of a volleyball that encompassed his kidney and his gall bladder, so he had them all taken out. He’s got a scar about this long."

Bum then, according to West, held up his hands "about a foot apart."

Bum's a friend of the old blog, so I'm not going to sit here and doubt whether or not his medical recollection is accurate. But I've sat here holding my arms in the shape of a volleyball up to my stomach and, well, it's bigger than me.

So is Wade, of course, and West writes that he's lost a lot of weight.

If Bum's description of Wade's condition is accurate -- or even close to accurate -- it's a good thing he had the surgery when he did, and it's kind of insane/impressive/terrifying that Wade's already back to coaching.


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Posted on: December 24, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: December 24, 2011 10:09 am
 

Kubiak sticking with T.J. Yates as Texans starter

Yates will keep on starting for Houston despite his struggles. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson


Follow all the Week 16 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
CLE-BAL | DEN-BUF | TB-CAR | ARI-CIN | OAK-KC | MIA-NE | NYG-NYJ | STL-PIT | JAC-TEN | MIN-WAS

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SD-DET | PHI-DAL | SF-SEA



T.J. Yates was a heck of a story -- a rookie quarterback, drafted in the fifth round, the only Carolina quarterback to start an NFL game -- for a few weeks when the Texans were winning. Now, after two straight losses to the Panthers and Colts, he's the chief concern for the people of Houston.

But Gary Kubiak is riding out the rookie and said Friday that he's going to continue to start Yates over either Jake Delhomme or Jeff Garcia, both of whom were signed when Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart went down.

"Oh yeah, he’s done a lot of good things," Kubiak said when asked point-blank if Yates was starting. "I think T.J. continues to do some good things. I think he continues to get better, and like I said, for where we're heading here, he needs to continue to get better, and we just got to trust him and move forward."

The issue isn't so much Yates as it is the defense, however. The Texans have scored just 29 points in the last two games, but they've allowed 47 points after a stretch of seven-straight games where they didn't allow a team to score more than 20 points.

It shouldn't be considered a coincidence that this happened right after defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took a leave of absence (hey, maybe we should vote him for MVP!).

Yates' decision making needs to improve -- he fumbled against the Colts -- but it's not like he's making a pile of mistakes. Two interceptions against the Panthers were quite costly, but the Texans were losing and he still completed well over 50 percent of his passes. Against the Colts, Yates was 13 of 16.

The offense is more limited because a rookie quarterback's under center, but that's a pretty basic fact of life when you plug a young guy like Yates in with just a few weeks left in the season. The Texans wouldn't become an aerial assault team just because Delhomme or Garcia started taking snaps.

A simpler solution that would've kept these issues from surfacing? Stopping Dan Orlavsky from driving 78 yards in less than two minutes.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:09 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Report: More tests expected for Mike Smith

Head coach Mike Smith is expected to undergo further testing after the team’s game Thursday night. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

UPDATE: Thursday, December 15, 1:45 p.m. ET -- The Falcons deny that Smith continues to experience chest pains. Falcons V.P. of Football Communications Reggie Roberts told the Atlanta Journal Constitution D. Orlando Ledbetter that Smith  “feels fine,” adding that  “He spent the week preparing his team for the nationally televised game against Jacksonville.  Smith had a previously scheduled appointment.  It was made after he left the hospital in Charlotte.” 

Following the Falcons' 31-23 victory over the Panthers Sunday, head coach Mike Smith was rushed to a Charlotte-area hospital with chest pains while the team boarded their charter plane back to Atlanta. The Falcons indicated later Sunday evening that the incident was a "non-emergency" and "reaffirmed his health," adding that he was "resting comfortably."

On Wednesday, sources told TSX’s Len Pasquarelli that Smith has continued to experience chest-related discomfort and is expected to undergo further testing after the team’s game Thursday night.

The Falcons host the Jaguars Thursday in a matchup that has playoff implications for Atlanta. Entering Week 15, they're the No. 5 seed in the NFC. At 8-5, they share the same record with the Lions (No. 6 seed), and have a one-game lead over the Bears (No. 7) and Cowboys (No. 8).

After this week's game with the Jaguars, Atlanta travels to New Orleans in Week 16 before wrapping up the regular season at home against Tampa Bay.

Hopefully, Smith, who is just 52, will be on the sidelines, completely healthy, to coach his team. 

Earlier Wednesday, Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips announced that he was taking a medical leave to undergo surgery for a kidney condition. 

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Wade Phillips takes 'medical leave of absence'

By Will Brinson

The Texans remarkable defensive turnaround in 2011 has a lot of people talking about Wade Phillips and how he deserves another head coaching chance. Unfortunately, people are talking about Phillips on Wednesday for a different reason, as Texans defensive coordinator will miss the next few weeks for as he undergoes surgery for what the team describes a kidney condition.

According to the Texans, Phillips "will take a medical leave of absence due to a scheduled surgical procedure later this week." Houston's press release also states that Phillips "is expected to return later this season."

"It's not life-threatening," Phillips said Wednesday. "There's no chemotherapy involved ... I don't want to get into it. It's not a vasectomy, in case you wondered."

The Texans made ridiculous strides defensively this season, going from the league's worst defense in 2010 to a top-five unit in 2011. Rightfully so, Philips gets most of the credit for that success.

"We're playing good defense all over," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said recently. "Of course it feels good, to be able to get out there and stop some people. You're definitely not worried about people scoring on you because you know everybody is being accountable. Everybody's holding up their end and knowing what they're supposed to do, so you're comfortable when you're out there."

There's no mention of what type of surgical procedure Phillips will have, but the timing of this is surprising to say the least -- the Texans clinched the playoffs last week and welcome the Panthers to Houston Sunday for their first of three remaining games.

Linebackers coach Reggie Herring will take over the defense while Phillips is gone.

"This is a system," Herring said Wednesday. "I've been raised under Wade Phillips for the last 4 years. "I feel very confident about this. We have a lot of things to finish. We have a lot to play for."

"We've got to make sure Wade's health comes first and get this taken care of so we can move forward," Kubiak told Panthers reporters on a conference call Wednesday morning.

For as much as the Texans have been through in 2011 -- losing Mario Williams, dealing with an Arian Foster injury, dealing with an Andre Johnson injury, losing Matt Schaub and then Matt Leinart, for starters -- having Phillips sidelined might be the most debilitating loss of them all. He's been critical in turning around the Texans defense in 2011 and if there was an award for top assistant in the NFL, a sure-fire lock to win.

Hopefully he'll be healthy when the playoffs role around.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:56 am
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