NFL.com recently ranked the top 10 defensive coordinators in the NFL, and Wade Phillips made the list in the #6 spot. This is no surprise, Phillips is considered one of the best coordinators of the past 30 years. Since he took his first defensive coordinator job in 1981 Wade Phillips' defenses have ranked in the top ten 11 times and only ranked in the bottom five twice. Bucky Brooks' reasoning for placing Wade 6th was:
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The veteran defensive architect might be underrated on this list, given his impeccable career résumé. Phillips has built stellar defenses at nearly every stop, including his most recent in Houston. He is a creative 3-4 schemer adept at tailoring his system to his talent, allowing his premier playmakers to disrupt the game at every turn. While unleashing explosive rushers off the edge and moving around destructive interior defenders, Phillips will utilize stunts, loops and blitzes to terrorize opponents at the point of attack. His tactics are certainly impressive to watch, but the fact that he scales down the communication (verbiage) to allow his players to play fast and free is one of the big reasons why he consistently gets exceptional production from his top dogs. And given the impact that stars have on the game, Phillips' adaptability is what makes him one of the top defensive minds working today.
Wade is known for running a solid, fundamental defense that isn't exceptionally aggressive but is flexible and gets the most out of his front seven. Wade is ranked behind:
5th Sean McDermott, Carolina
4th Teryl Austin, Detroit
3rd Romeo Crennel, Houston
2nd Vic Fangio, Chicago
1st Rod Marinelli, Dallas
It's hard to disagree with most on this list since McDermott, Crennel, Fangio and Marinelli all have coached defenses exceptionally well in the past, but Austin seems a bit high since he only has one year as a defensive coordinator under his belt. He did coach the Lions to the 3rd best defense last year after they ranked 15th the year before but I see no reason for him to be over Wade or even McDermott.
It's important to remember these power ranking can be kind of silly though; the Broncos also had the 6th ranked defensive coordinator last year in Jack Del Rio and we saw how that worked out. It also varies differently from other defensive coordinator rankings. So while I personally think Wade is the best Broncos defensive coordinator since Larry Coyer, or really Wade himself, by a wide margin, but I'm not sure trusting power rankings is the reason for my confidence in Wade.
I've got high hopes for the Broncos defense this year and it's entirely based on Wade Phillips being back on the Broncos coaching staff.