Possible DC Candidates With NFL Experience for the Oakland Raiders

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Dec 1, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on the sidelines against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium. The Patriots beat the Texans 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

6. Wade Phillips

Wade Phillips is a name that has been thrown around in the media, but as of now there hasn’t been much if anything to connect him to the Raiders. Phillips, at 67, is old, and has been around a long time, beginning his NFL coaching career on his father Bum Phillips’ staff with the Houston Oilers in 1976.

Including stints as an interim man, he has been an NFL head coach six different times, going back as far as 1985. He has never coached with Jack Del Rio, but in 1985, he was the defensive coordinator in New Orleans when the Saints drafted Del Rio. Wade took over for his father as the interim head coach after his father resigned late in the year, and coached the young Del Rio to a solid rookie year, after which he was named New Orleans Saints Rookie of the Year and named to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team.

It would take weeks to detail every stop in Phillips’ long career, but suffice it to say he has been everywhere. He was Buddy Ryan’s defensive coordinator from 1986 through 1988, coaching a defense that included Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons and Eric Allen. One of his assistants in Philadelphia was Jeff Fisher.

From 1989 through 1992 he was Dan Reeves’ DC in Denver, where Mike Nolan was his linebackers coach and Steve Atwater was his strong safety. Atwater had two consecutive first team All-Pro years under Phillips in Denver. Phillips was named head coach of the Broncos in 1993 and held the job for two years.

Phillips spent 1995 through 2000 in Buffalo, first as Marv Levy’s defensive coordinator and later as head coach with the Bills. Ted Cottrell was his linebackers coach and later his defensive coordinator, and Bryce Paup had an All-Pro year and three consecutive Pro Bowl years under Phillips in Buffalo. The legendary Bruce Smith enjoyed three consecutive years as a first-team All-Pro under Phillips, as well. The Bills made the playoffs in the first two years of Phillips’ stint as head coach there.

In 2002, Phillips went back to work for Dan Reeves as the defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, where he employed a young quality control assistant named Dennis Allen. Keith Brooking enjoyed his two most productive seasons in Phillips’ offense. Late in the 2003 season, Phillips stepped in as the interim head coach for Reeves.

In 2004, Phillips went to work for Marty Schottenheimer in San Diego, and in three years there, the San Diego defense never finished lower than 10th in total defense. Shawne Merriman and Jamal Williams enjoyed All-Pro seasons in Phillips’ defense.  Phillips’ linebackers coach in San Diego was Chuck Pagano.

In 2007, Phillips returned to Texas, hired by Jerry Jones as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Todd Bowles and Jason Garrett were both on his Cowboys staff as he led the team to a 13-3 record in his first year there. Demarcus Ware enjoyed three consecutive seasons as a first team All-Pro selection under Wade Phillips and twice led the NFL in sacks with Phillips as his head coach. Terrance Newman, Ken Hamiln, Greg Ellis, and Jay Ratliff all had Pro Bowl seasons during Phillips’ tenure as Cowboys’ head coach. Unfortunately, his time in Dallas ended in disaster, as he was fired after a 1-7 start to the 2010 season and replaced by Jason Garrett.

Phillips went home to Houston in 2011, and spent three years as the defensive coordinator in Houston, three years in which the Texans were always among the best defensive units in the NFL, even in the awful 2013 season. He coached current Raider defensive tackle Antonio Smith, as well as a young JJ Watt, Brian Cushing, Conner Barwin, and Jonathan Joseph. When Gary Kubiak suffered a stroke on the field late in the year, Phillips stepped in as the interim head coach one more time.

Phillips spent 2014 out of football, but a coach with the resume of a Wade Phillips is always going to be considered for a vacancy. It was announced earlier today that the Denver Broncos had contacted Phillips regarding their opening at the defensive coordinator position, where he would be re-united with Gary Kubiak, only three years removed from taking the Houston Texans to the second round of the playoffs together, and only two years removed from that abysmal 2-14 mark. Phillips’s roots in Denver go back as far as Kubiak’s, as Phillips was coaching there under Dan Reeves while Kubiak was backing up John Elway. It all seems a bit too perfect.

Phillips is a longshot, probably the longest shot on this list, but is a big name and worth mentioning. Jack Del Rio, a seasoned defensive coach in his own right, likely respects Phillips’ body of work, but teams coached by Phillips have a tendency to somewhat become Phillips’ team, even if he’s a coordinator. Phillips also may not necessarily fit wit the position coaches that Del Rio has in place in Robertson and Sunseri. But a young sports blogger would be remiss if he wasn’t included, even if he is both last and least.