The Denver Broncos are not immune to this movement. Wade Phillips is the perfect example of this glacial flow. It seems strange to many in Broncos Country that Phillips became expendable when Gary Kubiak retired. A defense that is mentioned in the same breath as some of the greatest in the history of the league seems valuable enough to warrant keeping its leader, no matter the situation.
Losing Phillips has been difficult because he is a brilliant coordinator. Joe Woods will likely have no problem continuing the excellence that is the hallmark of the defense, but he will be hard pressed to match Phillips’ connection with the fans. Just follow Phillips on Twitter.
His posts are always worth checking out. But that doesn’t make management want to keep coaches around.
Generally, success is the saving grace for a coach in the league, but GMs and owners are often looking for the next big thing. Young coaches, with strong pedigrees will almost always be the priority. Wade is the victim of this now. Woods was seen by many as the next big thing in the world of coordinators, and to ensure he stayed, Phillips had to go. And for all the fans shouting for Kyle Shanahan, this would not have changed.
That is what has made the vitriol around the Vance Joseph hiring so strange. Youth always wins out in the end. John Elway knows this from the perspective of a player, and as the VP of Football Operations. Elway has been one of the best GMs in the game since taking over the Broncos. He has never sat on his hands, or rested on his laurels.
Two years ago when Joseph interviewed with the Broncos for the defensive coordinator position, Elway took note. Phillips got the job, but Joseph has been the target ever since. Kubiak’s retirement put Elway in a position to go out and get the next big thing. Now, Joe Woods looks like he could be the next big thing. That comes at a price. Wade Phillips was the cost.
This is not the end of the dominant Broncos defense. Elway is not throwing away talent. He is bringing in enthusiasm and youth. He is bringing in long-term security for that historic defense, or as much as possible in the NFL. The building will be done on the offensive side of the ball. Elway and Joseph will need to make the right adjustments, and bring in the right coaches and talent. But the defense is secure, even with the loss of Phillips.
Wade will always be loved in Denver, and that’s a good thing. But as long as the defense continues to move forward, he won’t be missed for too long.