They don’t hand out awards for assistant coach of the year, but if they did, it would go to Texans first-year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
Ousted as the Cowboys’ head coach midway through the 2010 season, Phillips has done wonders for a Texans defense that was its Achilles heel last year. Houston finished 6-10 and 30th overall in defense, but the Texans are now atop the AFC South with a 9-3 record and the league’s to-ranked defense.
The Texans are allowing an average of 274.1 yards per game, and also lead the league in fewest points allowed (189). Their 537 penalty yards are third lowest in the NFL. They’re tied for the AFC lead with 17 interceptions, and they’re only three sacks away from breaking the franchise for most sacks in a season (37). And they’ve produced these impressive stats for the most part without pass rusher Mario Williams, who suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in Week 5.
It’s no surprise that the Texans are better under Phillips’ tutelage. Say what you will about his head-coaching ability, but there’s no questioning his talent as a defensive coordinator. Consider: When he had previously taken over defenses in New Orleans, Denver, Atlanta, San Diego, Buffalo and Dallas, the teams all improved in his first season. The only defense he coordinated that didn’t improve was the 1986 Eagles, who were a top-10 defensive team the year before.