Wade Phillips

Latest On XFL Coaching Staffs, Front Offices

The XFL made a bit of a spectacle of announcing all of the staff that would be involved in the league once it returns in 2023. Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network provided a rundown of all eight teams’ staffs (all Twitter links).

Dallas Renegades

Director of player personnel: Rick Mueller
Head coach: Bob Stoops
Offensive coordinator: Matt McMillian and Jonathan Hayes
Defensive coordinator: Jay Hayes

Mueller, 54, has an extensive history in the player personnel circles of football. He’s spent time in the college ranks, the CFL, the UFL, and held high-level positions with the Jaguars, Saints, and Eagles. Stoops has a storied history as a college football head coach, most notoriously spending 18 years with the Oklahoma Sooners. Jonathan Hayes, the brother of Jay Hayes, coached with Stoops at Oklahoma before spending 16 years as the Bengals’ tight ends coach.

DC Defenders

Director of player personnel: Von Hutchins
Head coach: Reggie Barlow
Offensive coordinator: Fred Kaiss
Defensive coordinator: Gregg Williams

Hutchins is a former cornerback who played for the Colts, Texans, and Falcons back from 2004-2009. He also spent time in personnel roles with the Raiders and Packers. Barlow is a former NFL receiver who has head coaching experience with FCS Alabama State and Division II Virginia State. Kaiss has worked in the past with Barlow at the FCS level. Williams has vast NFL experience serving as the head coach of the Bills, interim head coach for the Browns, and defensive coordinator for eight different teams, most recently the Jets in 2020.

Houston Roughnecks

Director of player personnel: Marc Lillibridge
Head coach: Wade Phillips
Offensive coordinator: A.J. Smith
Defensive coordinator: Brian Stewart

Lillibridge has a bit of a thin history with the NFL with experience both representing and scouting players over the years. Phillips has enough NFL experience for the both of them, though. Phillips has served as the head coach of the Broncos, Bills, and Cowboys, interim head coach of the Saints and Falcons, and the defensive coordinator of eight different teams, calling defensive plays in Denver in two separate stints. Smith is an innovative, young coach who created a virtual system to train quarterbacks. He’s worked over the years with Gardner Minshew, Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh Rosen, and others. Stewart has worked previously with Phillips as his defensive coordinator in Dallas. Since his time in the NFL, he has served as a defensive coordinator at the collegiate level at Houston and on two separate occasions at Maryland.

Las Vegas (TBD)

Director of player personnel: Joey Clinkscales
Head coach: Rod Woodson
Offensive coordinator: TBD
Defensive coordinator: TBD

Clinkscales has served in personnel roles for the Steelers, Jets, and Raiders dating back to the early 1990s. At his height, he was hired as the Raiders’ director of player personnel in 2012, parting ways with the team when then-general manager Reggie McKenzie was fired in 2019. Woodson is a legendary former NFL defensive back who last played in the early 2000s. Since then, he has worked in some assistant coaching roles with the Bengals, Broncos, and Raiders.

Orlando (TBD)

Director of player personnel: Larry Lee
Head coach: Terrell Buckley
Offensive coordinator: Robert Ford
Defensive coordinator: Tony Carter

Lee is a former NFL center from the 1980s who became the Lions’ vice president of football operations after his retirement. He hasn’t worked in a professional football league in two decades, serving most recently as the deputy executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance. Buckley is a former NFL cornerback who moved to coaching after playing, holding multiple assistant coaching positions around the college ranks over the past 15 years. Ford has been coaching for almost 50 years, breaking into the NFL in 1991 with the Cowboys, where he won three Super Bowl rings as a tight ends coach. He has served as an assistant coach with the Dolphins, Cardinals, and Raiders, as well, with his last stint in the NFL coming back in 2006. Carter is another former NFL cornerback who moved to coaching after his playing time ended, taking small coaching roles with the Raiders and Lions since retiring.

San Antonio (TBD)

Director of player personnel: Will Lewis
Head coach: Hines Ward
Offensive coordinator: Jaime Elizondo
Defensive coordinator: Jim Herrmann

Lewis is a former NFL player and assistant coach who moved to the personnel side of football in the late 1990s. After starting as a scout with the Packers, Lewis has held high-level positions with the Seahawks and Chiefs. He also served as general manager for a franchise in the short-lived Alliance of American Football. Ward is a former longtime receiver for the Steelers who, since retiring, has held assistant coaching roles with the Jets and at the collegiate level. Elizondo has a long history of coaching football at the collegiate level and in the CFL, as well as serving as an offensive coordinator in the 2020 iteration of the XFL. Herrmann has been a defensive coordinator at his alma mater, the University of Michigan, as well as an assistant coach for the Jets, Giants, and Colts.

Seattle Dragons

Director of player personnel: Randy Mueller
Head coach: Jim Haslett
Offensive coordinator: June Jones
Defensive coordinator: Ron Zook

Mueller has served in the past as general manager for the Saints and Dolphins while holding other high-level positions for the Seahawks and Chargers. Haslett was the head coach of the Saints for six years in the early 2000s . He has also been a head coach in the UFL and served as interim head coach of the Rams. He’s held defensive coordinator positions with the Saints, Steelers, Rams, and Washington, as well as holding assistant coaching positions with the Raiders, Bengals, and Titans. Jones was the head coach of the Falcons back in the mid-1990s and, subsequently, served as a head coach in the CFL. He’s held offensive coordinator jobs at nearly every level of competitive football. Zook adds to the head coaching experience in Seattle with two stints as a college football head coach. He’s served as defensive coordinator for the Saints and special teams coordinator for the Steelers and Packers. He has lots of experience as a coordinator at the collegiate level, as well.

St. Louis BattleHawks

Director of player personnel: Dave Boller
Head coach: Anthony Becht
Offensive coordinator: Bruce Gradkowski
Defensive coordinator: Donnie Abraham

Boller has scouting experience with the Buccaneers back in the late 1990s. Becht is a former NFL tight end whose only coaching experience is as a positional coach in the AAF. Gradkowski is a former NFL quarterback who served as a backup for much of his career. Since his retirement, Gradkowski has been serving as a high school head coach in Ohio. Abraham continues the trend of former NFL player coaches in St. Louis with no NFL coaching experience. Abraham was a cornerback for the Buccaneers and Jets from 1996-2004. Since retiring he has been a head coach at the high school level, an assistant coach in the Arena Football League, an assistant coach at the collegiate level, and an assistant coach in the AAF.

XFL Assigns Franchise-Coach Pairings

The identities of the head coaches who will be on the sidelines when the XFL begins its third iteration were already known. Today, though, it has been revealed which franchise each coach will be working with when the league re-starts in 2023. 

[RELATED: XFL Announces HCs For 2023 Season]

As detailed by Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter), Wade Phillips has been assigned to the Houston franchise. That will mark the second stint coaching a professional team in that city for the soon-to-be 75-year-old, as he took over interim HC duties for the Texans during his time there in 2013. This will mark his first time on the sidelines since 2019, when he served as defensive coordinator of the Rams.

The list of XFL coaches also includes decorated former players. One of them is Hines Ward, who will be joining Phillips and Bob Stoops in the state of Texas by coaching the San Antonio franchise. The former Super Bowl MVP worked as an offensive assistant with the Jets in 2020 and 2021; he spent the past campaign as the WRs coach at Florida Atlantic. The XFL post will mark his first time as a head coach at any level.

Another brand-name player the XFL will be featuring on the sidelines is Rod Woodson. The Hall of Fame corner has more experience than Ward with respect to time spent as a positional coach at the NFL level, including two separate stints as the CBs coach of the Raiders. In his case as well, though, the XFL will provide a first-time HC opportunity. He will take the reins of the Las Vegas team.

Long before the league unveiled its batch of HCs for the upcoming season, the XFL announced a formal partnership with the NFL. While the former will not organize itself as a strictly developmental league for the latter, there will be notable collaboration between the two on a number of matters, including the NFL’s Alumni Academy. While it remains to be seen if the third time proves to be the charm for the enterprise now co-owned by Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia, these agreements, along with the interest generated by these coaches, should give the league a chance at long-term success.

Here is the full breakdown of the franchise-coach pairings, per Wilson:

Wade Phillips, Rod Woodson, Hines Ward Among XFL HCs

Out of the NFL since the 2019 season, Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will resurface in the latest XFL iteration. The longtime NFL coach will be one of XFL 3.0’s eight HCs, the rebooting league announced Wednesday.

Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, former Pro Bowler Hines Ward, and ex-Oklahoma national championship HC Bob Stoops will join Phillips. Former Saints and Rams HC Jim Haslett will also lead an XFL team. The league’s third round of HCs also includes former NFLers Terrell Buckley, Anthony Becht and Reggie Barlow.

“Our head coaches are a diverse group of leaders, champions and hall of famers with experience competing and coaching at the highest level in football. Not only will they be mentors to our players, but they are also ambassadors of the XFL as we work together to build tomorrow’s league,” said Dany Garcia, Co-Owner and Chairwoman of the XFL. “What is most exciting about our talented coaches is that they all share our vision for the XFL and are committed to advancing the game of football for players and making it into a must-watch program for fans. The XFL is anchored in the belief of opportunity, and, just like our players, these football legends will drive the future of the game.”

Head coach or interim HC for four teams, Phillips was on the sideline for the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 win and coached in Super Bowls XXIV and LIII as Denver and Los Angeles DC. The veteran coach also had a long career as a defensive coordinator, with his most recent gig coming with the Rams between 2017 and 2019. The last we heard from Phillips, he was discussing a potential role on the Browns staff in 2020. Phillips will be 75 when he takes the field in February.

Haslett, the 2000 AP NFL Coach of the Year, served as the Titans inside linebackers coach over the past two seasons, but he wasn’t retained following the 2021 campaign. He last served as a HC in 2008, going 2-10 as the interim head coach with the Rams. In six seasons with the Saints, the team went 45-51 with only one playoff appearance.

Woodson has some experience coaching in the NFL. He had two stints as the Raiders cornerbacks coach, and he also had coaching jobs with the Bengals and Broncos. Similarly, Ward had a two-year coaching stint with the Jets before spending the 2021 campaign as Florida Atlantic’s wide receivers coach.

NFC Coaching Notes: Seahawks, Vikings, Falcons, Packers, Bears

With the various changes to coaching personnel around the league winding down, teams are beginning to officially unveil their 2022 staffs. The Seahawks recently did so, confirming a number of changes following a disappointing season, but some important retentions as well.

As Bob Condotta of The Athletic tweets, Sanjay Lal is remaining with the team in his current role of wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator. The 52-year-old has worked with that position group on seven different teams dating back to 2009. He spent the 2020 campaign in Seattle, but spent last season in Jacksonville. Meanwhile, Karl Scott, 36, is officially being brought in as the team’s secondary coach and defensive pass game coordinator. That move had been expected since last week when it was reported the team was in talks with him.

In addition, Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports (in a pair of tweets) more names on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Dave Canales will remain as the team’s QBs coach, a role he first had in 2018, but he will no longer have the passing game coordinator title. Brad Idzik has been added as an assistant WRs coach; he entered the NFL with Seattle in 2019. Lastly, Nate Carroll has been promoted to senior offensive assistant, after spending 11 years with the Seahawks in various roles.

As for the defensive staff, Aaron Curry is now an assistant defensive line coach; the former Seattle draftee spent the last two seasons on their sideline. He will be joined in that role by Damione Lewis. Another former player on staff is DeShawn Shead, who has been promoted to defensive backs coach. The last to fit that description is Will Tukuafu, who is coming aboard as a defensive quality control coach.

Here are some other coaching notes from the NFC:

  • USA Today’s Mike Jones tweets that it is “sounding like” Wes Phillips and Chris O’Hara will be following newly-hired head coach Kevin O’Connell to Minnesota. The former, who is also the son of Wade Phillips, has been a TEs coach with three different teams, the most recent being the Rams. It was reported earlier this week that O’Connell was expected to give him the role of either OC or passing game coordinator. The latter only spent the 2021 season in L.A., but worked as an offensive assistant in Jacksonville and Washington before that.
  • According to Josh Kendall of The Athletic, the Falcons are parting ways with WRs coach Dave Brock (Twitter link). The 54-year-old has an extensive background in the college ranks, but his only NFL experience was in Atlanta starting in 2017. Chandler Henley, who had been an assistant offensive line coach with them, has left to join the Dolphins.
  • The Packers are supporting new ST coordinator Rich Bisaccia with Byron Storer, reports Matt Schneidman of The Athletic (Twitter link).The 37-year-old has worked with Bisaccia in each of his other three NFL coaching locations, and even knows Aaron Rodgers dating back to their college days.
  • Lastly, the Bears are hiring Brent Salazar as their strength and conditioning coach (Twitter link via Wilson). He has more than a decade of experience in the NFL, having previously worked with three different teams. He also spent the years between 2017 and 2020 as the director of performance for the United States Tennis Association.

Wade Phillips Waiting For Next NFL Opportunity

When the Rams parted ways with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, we expected the veteran coach to garner tons of interest from teams. Apparently, that hasn’t been the case. Phillips says that he has been hanging on the telephone to no avail. 

I just want to be able to help somebody win,” Phillips told Albert Breer of The MMQB.

Phillips, 72, spoke with new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski about a position on his staff, but a deal never came together. At this point, Phillips may be looking at his first year outside of the NFL since 2014. Most in their 70s would be content in retirement, but that’s not the case for Phillips, who began his pro coaching career all the way back in 1976.

In 2019, Phillips’ Rams D allowed 22.8 points per game and 339.6 yards per contest, putting them in the middle of the NFL pack in both categories. It wasn’t his finest year, but Phillips has guided some elite defenses over the years. Before he linked up with Sean McVay, Phillips oversaw the Broncos’ vaunted “No Fly Zone” secondary and helped the franchise capture a Super Bowl ring in 2015. Despite last season’s hiccups – including the surrender of 44 points to the Cowboys in December – Phillips remains a beloved and well-respected figure in the NFL.

For now, Phillips and his wife are still in California. If he doesn’t land a job for this upcoming season, they’ll relocate back to their permanent home in Houston.

Browns Hire Chad O’Shea As WR Coach; Latest On OC/DC Search

The Browns have hired former Dolphins OC Chad O’Shea as their new WR coach and passing game coordinator, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. O’Shea lasted one year in Miami and drew some criticism for installing an overly complex offense, and he was recently fired in favor of spread offense guru Chan Gailey.

But despite the talent limitations on Miami’s offense, the team did perform reasonably well down the stretch and actually ranked in the top-10 in passing offense and top-15 in scoring offense after Ryan Fitzpatrick reentered the starting lineup in Week 7. As such, O’Shea’s dismissal came as something of a surprise, though recent reports indicated that, while he is an excellent receivers coach, he is not a great coordinator.

O’Shea spent 10 years as the Patriots’ WR coach, so he comes to Cleveland with plenty of experience. He will also have a great deal of talent to work with, and he will be tasked with continuing to get the most out of Jarvis Landry while also helping Odell Beckham Jr. return to prominence. As passing game coordinator, he will also help develop game plans for Baker Mayfield, who struggled in his sophomore campaign but who still has plenty of potential.

As for the Browns’ vacant offensive coordinator post, Rapoport says the team has interest in 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur and run game coordinator Mike McDaniel. Cleveland had some interest in both men for their head coaching post but never requested interviews with them. The Browns may not request OC interviews either, because San Francisco is unlikely to grant such requests. The Browns may also go without an official OC given new head coach Kevin Stefanski‘s offensive prowess.

Unlike LaFleur and McDaniel, 49ers passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Joe Woods is not under contract through 2020, so he can join the Browns if he so chooses. We recently heard that Cleveland had narrowed its defensive coordinator search to Woods and incumbent Steve Wilks, though Rapoport says Wade Phillips remains a possibility as well.

Browns Eyeing George Edwards, Wade Phillips For DC?

The Browns got their new head coach by hiring former Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski away from Minnesota, and they may not be finished raiding the Vikings’ staff. There have been rumblings that Gary Kubiak and/or Klint Kubiak could join Stefanski in Cleveland, and Vikings DC George Edwards could do the same.

We heard on Sunday that Edwards is unlikely to return to Minnesota in 2020, and Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune says a Stefanski-Edwards reunion could happen in Ohio (Twitter link). Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com says Edwards wants to go somewhere he can call plays, which he cannot do with the Vikings since head coach Mike Zimmer handles those responsibilities (Twitter link).

Edwards, 52, has been in the NFL in some capacity every season since 1998. He was the Redskins’ defensive coordinator in 2003, the Bills’ from 2010-11, and he has been the Vikings’ DC since 2014. He’s also served as a positional coach with several different clubs, including the Browns in 2004.

In addition to Edwards, the Browns may also be interested in Wade Phillips, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. We recently heard that Phillips, 72, would not be returning to the Rams in 2020, but his vast experience could be appealing to Stefanski, just as it was to Sean McVay when he became a first-time head coach in 2017.

In 2019, the Rams allowed 22.8 points per game and 339.6 yards per contest, putting them in the middle of the pack in both categories. But Phillips, who has plenty of head coaching experience in addition to his years as a defensive coordinator with multiple clubs, remains a respected defensive mind and would command the type of respect that Cleveland’s locker room could use.

Rams To Move On From DC Wade Phillips

Wade Phillips won’t return as the Rams’ defensive coordinator in 2020. On Monday, Phillips announced that he’s leaving Los Angeles. 

I have been informed by the Rams that my contract will not be renewed,” Phillips wrote. “I want to thank them for the opportunity to be a part of their success the last three years. Most of all I want to thank the players who I loved workings with. I still want to coach and feel I can contribute.”

Phillips, 72, was a part of head coach Sean McVay’s inaugural staff. He’s been in the NFL since 1976 and even though he has done it all and captured a Super Bowl ring, he has no desire to retire. Given his resume, there’s little doubt that Phillips will be able to hook on elsewhere as a defensive coordinator, even though things did not go according to plan for his Rams defense in 2019.

In 2019, the Rams allowed 22.8 points per game and 339.6 yards per contest, putting them in the middle of the pack in both categories. Still, he didn’t get as much help from the offense as he would have liked – McVay’s much-ballyhooed offense put up just 24.6 points per contest.

West Notes: Rams, Phillips, Suggs, Carr

The Rams have obviously been having a disappointing season, as they enter the final two weeks of the season with their playoff chances hanging by a thread the year after making a Super Bowl run. Anytime a team fails to meet expectations there’s the possibility for major changes, and it sounds like that could be the case in Los Angeles. Wade Phillips might be nearing the end of his time with the team, as Alex Marvez of Sirius XM NFL Radio tweets that he’s “hearing there’s a chance” Phillips doesn’t return for the 2020 season. Phillips, 72, has been the Rams’ defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, and was part of head coach Sean McVay’s inaugural staff.

The former Cowboys head coach has been coaching in the league since all the way back in 1976. Before joining forces with McVay he was the defensive coordinator in Denver, overseeing their vaunted ‘No Fly Zone’ secondary which won a Super Bowl in 2015. Marvez adds that Phillips is in the final year of his contract, and that if he were to depart then linebackers coach Joe Barry would be a “strong replacement candidate.” The Rams’ defense has had some notable meltdowns this season, like when they gave up 44 points to the Cowboys last week or 45 to the Ravens a month back, but they’ve also played quite well at times. The secondary has been better since trading for Jalen Ramsey, and they’ve given up 17 or fewer points in six of their last eight games. If Phillips does get the boot or chooses to leave on his own, he’d likely draw some interest from teams in search of a veteran assistant, perhaps to be paired with a young offensive-minded head coach.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Terrell Suggs initially said he’d only play for the Ravens after he was cut by the Cardinals, but when he was claimed by the Chiefs it was immediately reported that he’d be joining Kansas City. What changed? Apparently all it took was a short call with Andy Reid. “I was really uncertain about my future last week, but I talked to Coach and it was a brief conversation and I was like, ‘OK,”’ the veteran pass-rusher said earlier this week, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “I asked Coach, ‘I just learned the hard way that a player like me just [doesn’t] fit in anywhere.’ He was like, ‘Trust me, you’ll fit in here.'” Suggs spent the first 16 years of his career with Baltimore before signing in Arizona this past offseason. Now, he’ll be joining one of the Ravens’ main AFC rivals with a chance at a potential final playoff run.
  • Raiders safety Karl Joseph was placed on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury early last month, and now we have more details. Joseph had a “partial case of plantar fasciitis in his right foot,” according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tafur also reports that he’ll be good to go in April when offseason programs start across the league. The Raiders declined Joseph’s fifth-year option, so the former first-round pick will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Joseph started the first nine games of this season, and has said he wants to be back with the Raiders. He was receiving average marks from Pro Football Focus before going down.
  • Speaking of the Raiders, there will be a lot of talk about Derek Carr this offseason. The Raiders are set to move to Las Vegas for 2020, and it’s not quite settled as to who will be their quarterback when they play their first game there. Jon Gruden has been publicly supportive of Carr, but “there is a significant disconnect between the coach and the quarterback,” writes Michael Lombardi of The Athletic. Lombardi writes that he believes the Raiders will hold onto Carr, while also drafting a quarterback next April. He speculates that Gruden might look to trade Carr, finding a partner willing to take on Carr’s relatively affordable contract. It’s often hard to tell what Gruden is really thinking as he’s often publicly said one thing while doing another during his short time back in the league, but it’s certainly plausible that he decides to move on from Carr, one of the last holdovers from the pre-Gruden Raiders.

Latest On Broncos/Wade Phillips Split

The Broncos and Wade Phillips could not agree on terms to bring back the DC for a third season in Denver, re-routing the veteran assistant to his 10th NFL franchise. Conflicting reports have attempted to illuminate some reasons why the architect of the league’s top defense the past two years will be overseeing the Rams’ unit in 2017.

A report earlier this week indicated Phillips played a role in pitting the Broncos’ defense against their offense, dividing the locker room and alleging the DC was responsible for a similar situation on the 2013 Texans. Phillips himself shot back (Twitter link) and denied any such claim, something which All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris (via Twitter) backed up.

The somewhat surprising split after Phillips helped guide the Broncos to their third Super Bowl championship a year ago may have occurred for several reasons, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk describes it as an amicable breakup. Phillips’ daughter lives in Los Angeles, leading Phillips to the understandable desire to want to relocate there if given the opportunity. But 2016 negotiations for a second Phillips contract in Denver featured a chasm between the sides on terms.

Phillips, per Florio, wanted to be the highest-paid defensive coordinator in football after playing a key role in leading a defensively powered Super Bowl team. The Broncos, though, resisted, and NFL veteran of more than 30 years entered this season on an expiring contract. Denver’s pass defense finished with a top-10 all-time DVOA in 2016 en route to ending up as the top DVOA total defense for a second straight year, and the 69-year-old coach became a sought-after commodity on the open market. He drew interest from the Browns, Redskins and Rams before deciding to move west.

Denver’s new DC, Joe Woods, was also drawing interest as a possible coordinator candidate, Florio notes. The Broncos did not want to lose a potential rising talent to another team, so they promoted Woods to fill Phillips’ spot shortly after he left. The team could have blocked the 46-year-old Woods from interviewing elsewhere — something that wasn’t rumored prior to him being promoted — but chose to promote him instead of denying him an opportunity. Current Broncos HC Vance Joseph experienced this two years ago, when the Bengals denied their then-defensive backs coach permission to become the Denver DC in 2015, leading to Phillips’ return to Colorado.