Pending the resolution of Dan Quinn’s tenure with the Seahawks, four teams are currently conducting a search for a defensive coordinator, as our 2015 OC/DC tracker shows. Two of those clubs reside in the AFC West, as the Broncos and Raiders are attempting to replace Jack Del Rio and Jason Tarver, respectively, and today we’ve learned a bit more about the DC hunts being undertaken in Denver and Oakland.
The Broncos initially targeted Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph as the top candidate to fill their defensive coordinator vacancy, but Cincinnati refused to release Joseph from his contract. Reports indicated that Denver would subsequently move on to interviewing other options, but we hadn’t heard any more news on the search until today, as Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com reports that the club has contacted longtime NFL coach Wade Phillips to gauge his interest in the position. Phillips, 67, worked with new Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak in Houston from 2011-13, and many around the league expect a deal to be struck for Phillps to head to Denver, per Legwold.
Phillips, who started coaching in the NFL in 1976 as the Houston Oilers defensive line coach, has decades of NFL experience — he’s served as the head coach of the Broncos, Bills, and Cowboys, and acted as DC for a multitude of other clubs. He’s generally run a 3-4 front, which would require some personnel changes by Denver, who has run a 4-3 look in recent years under Del Rio. The club would have something of a head start on the schematic shift, as Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are perfect fits as 3-4 OLBs, while free agent defensive lineman has the size to handle nose tackle.
The Raiders, meanwhile, have interviewed Mel Tucker and Eric Mangini (who has since accepted the 49ers’ DC gig) for their coordinator opening, while ex-Falcons head coach Mike Smith has been viewed as the favorite to land the job. However, Oakland might be unhappy with the results of its search, as Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 tweets that the club is now looking to the college ranks to fills its DC void. There’s no word on any specific NCAA candidates, but Bill Williamson of ESPN.com believes (Twitter link) the report means two things — that the Raiders have been turned down quite a bit, and that Del Rio intends to call defensive plays, meaning that the new coordinator would have less latitude.