By Greg Beacham, The Associated Press
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Wade Phillips is the Los Angeles Rams’ new defensive coordinator, the team confirmed Thursday.
A week after 30-year-old head coach Sean McVay said the 69-year-old Phillips would be joining him on the West Coast, their partnership finally was made official by the Rams, who are rebuilding after finishing 4-12 in their 13th consecutive non-winning season.
Phillips begins his 40th NFL season as a coach with the Rams, the 10th franchise to employ him. He was a head coach at Dallas, Buffalo and Denver, and he served as an interim head coach for New Orleans, Atlanta and the Houston Texans.
The son of famed coach Bum Phillips has been one of the NFL’s top defensive minds for decades. He spent the past two years with the Broncos, coordinating the dominant defense that won the Super Bowl last season.
“Wade has seen it all in our league, and I believe that his wealth of knowledge and experience will be a tremendous asset to our entire coaching staff and players,” McVay said in a statement. “Our defense has been one of our core strengths, and I expect it to continue to grow and thrive under Wade’s leadership.”
Phillips, who will turn 70 before the upcoming season begins, might seem to be an unlikely partner for McVay, who will be the youngest head coach in modern NFL history even after he turns 31 next week.
But they have a strong family connection: Phillips’ son, Wes, was McVay’s tight ends coach for the past three seasons in Washington.
Phillips and his wife also have personal reasons to be excited about a move to Southern California: His daughter, Tracy, works in Los Angeles as a dancer and choreographer.
Gregg Williams was Jeff Fisher’s defensive coordinator last season with the Rams, who haven’t made the playoffs since the 2004 season in St. Louis. Williams left for the Cleveland Browns shortly after the regular season ended with the Rams losing the final seven games in their homecoming season.
Phillips traditionally runs a 3-4 defense, but Rams defensive linemen Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers all excelled in Williams’ 4-3 scheme. McVay said last week that he expects Phillips to have no problem coming up with ways to maximize the success of Los Angeles’ talented defensive line.
McVay’s coaching staff is quietly taking shape one week after the Rams hired the former Washington offensive coordinator. The Rams are retaining special teams coordinator John Fassel, who served as their interim coach for the final three games after Fisher was fired last month.
The Rams are soon expected to announce the hiring of veteran offensive coordinator Greg Olson as their quarterbacks coach. Olson worked on Jon Gruden’s staff at Tampa Bay with McVay, who says he will call the Rams’ plays next season.
Veteran NFL assistant Joe Barry is in line to become the Rams’ assistant head coach and linebackers coach, and Bill Johnson is expected to be their defensive line coach. The team hasn’t announced their hiring yet, either.