The Los Angeles Rams have announced they will not be renewing defensive coordinator Wade Phillip’s contract. Here, we look into the positives he would bring to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Cincinnati Bengals defense had a less than desirable season, to say the least. According to The Athletic’s Jay Morrison, Cincinnati fielded the 29th overall defense, ranking the worst in the league in stopping the run and 21st in defending the pass.
While those figures are hard to swallow, they don’t tell the whole story. Current defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo inherited one of the worst defenses in the NFL from the previous coaching regime. If that weren’t enough, he dealt with countless injuries in the secondary as well as an alarming lack of depth at the linebacker position. After a rocky start, however, he led the team to a much better performance.
Several young players such as Germaine Pratt and Darius Phillips began to break out under the coaching of Anarumo. In addition, the first-year coordinator found ways to scheme around the lack of personnel in key spots. If Anarumo remains the man in charge for Cincinnati next season, he has shown enough for there to be optimism on that side of the ball.
However, with Zac Taylor finishing his first campaign as a head coach with a record of just 2-14, he can’t settle for silver linings. That’s where Wade Phillips steps in. After the Los Angeles Rams announced they won’t be renewing the long-time defensive guru’s contract, Phillips is on the market.
The 72-year-old has been coaching in the NFL for the majority of his life, 42 seasons. During that time, he’s overseen defenses that ranked among the best in the league, held head coaching positions, and made Superbowl appearances. That kind of resume should be a welcome addition to a Bengals staff that is among the youngest and least experienced in the league.
Perhaps his best work was with the 2015-2016 Denver Broncos. On their way to trouncing every team they faced in the postseason, Phillips led a defense that ranked 1st in pass defense, 3rd in sacks, and 4th in total defense. It’s clear his expertise would significantly improve the Bengals in both defending the pass and the run. In addition, he will undoubtedly help the young playmakers on the roster generate more turnovers, something the team has been lacking as of recently.
Beyond the on-the-field impact Phillips would obviously have, he could give the Bengals a substantial boost in both free agency and the draft.
His stint in Los Angeles could help him lure intriguing free-agent options such as Andrew Whitworth or Cory Littleton to Cincinnati. Even if those two aren’t on the front office’s radar, the respect Phillips has garnered around the league could attract other players.
As far as the draft goes, all of Phillip’s years in the league means he knows talent when he sees it. This could help the Cincinnati Bengals identify targets while coaching the Senior Bowl as well as assist them in identifying quality players later in the draft.
It seems like a no-brainer if Zac Taylor can beat out the competition to bring Wade Phillips into the fold. The experienced veteran could serve as a mentor to a youthful coaching staff, lift the defense to new heights, and help the team bring in solid players.