The coach possibly most responsible for the Broncos bringing back the Lombardi Trophy in February got another trophy from the NFL today - his "Assistant Coach of the Year" award presented by Associated Press.
Wade Phillips, hired by Gary Kubiak just after the former backup QB himself had been named the Broncos new head coach more than a year ago, awakened an already impressive defensive roster into the Loch Ness Monster of NFL defenses.
When Von Miller gave his post-Super Bowl MVP presser, he was quick to hang that on Phillips too.
"Coach Phillips did an amazing job," said Miller, who garnered 2.5 sacks, six tackles, two forced fumbles and two QB hurries in his MVP performance. "He always likes to say that mistakes are on him, but the Super Bowl is on him, too. I really appreciate everything he's done for the whole team, not just the defense."
Following the transformation of the Broncos defense as well as its sheer domination, Phillips will be considered one of the great defensive minds ever to coach in the NFL. Especially since he doesn't do anything complicated; he just uses each player to his strength.
And Phillips' defense produced over and over again.
Against the Ravens. Against the Chiefs. Against the Vikings. Against just about everyone. And certainly against the best when it counted.
All season long the pundits didn't think the defense was for real, didn't think it could keep winning games or that the No. 1 ranking was legit.
"We couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers. We couldn't stop Tom Brady. We couldn't beat Ben Roethlisberger," T.J. Ward said, in all-out sarcasm mode just before the Super Bowl. "But somehow we're in the Super Bowl."
And after a 24-10 victory that nearly kept the NFL's No. 1 scoring offense from double digits, finally there were believers.
In 3 postseason games, the Broncos allowed 1 TD pass to Cam, Brady & Big Ben combined. They threw 92 this regular season.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 8, 2016
In the three postseason wins against the Steelers, the Patriots and the Panthers, the Broncos' defense gave up just ONE passing touchdown. And that was against three of the most prolific passers in the NFL - Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Cam Newton.
In those three games, the Broncos gave up just 16 points to the Steelers, 18 to the Patriots and 10 to the Panthers - all teams that ranked among the top five in scoring this year.
And at Phillips' direction, Miller & Co. hit Brady an unbelievable 20 times during the AFC Championship (more than any QB in any game the last decade), then marched into the Super Bowl and rammed into Newton more in one game (13 hits) than he'd been hit all year.
It was utter domination, and the Broncos knew who deserved the most credit.
The man who was unemployed just 12 months before.
"He came in and figured out how to utilize the talents," linebacker DeMarcus Ware told ESPN. "With Von Miller, you can see how well he played. You can see how he utilized Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe and Sylvester Williams, and those guys are more than just run-stoppers. He changed everything up to where we could be more aggressive and get to the player, but also create a lot of havoc."
Phillips and Kubiak were both fired by the Texans after the 2013 season, and Phillips didn't coach anywhere in 2014.
"I went from unemployed to [coach in the] Super Bowl," Phillips joked after that game. "Now, I went from unemployed to winning the Super Bowl."
And now he's going from winning the Super Bowl to defending it with many of the same players. Looks like Son of Bum could have another big year.