3 Teams That Could Hire Wade Phillips to Turn Around Their Defense

Tristan Jung
Wade Phillips coaches in a game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Wade Phillips coaches in a game against the Arizona Cardinals. / John McCoy/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams will not be retaining veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips as part of a coaching shake-up that comes after missing the playoffs in 2019. Many teams will be interested in his services, as he has built many successful defenses throughout his career, including the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl-winning unit in 2015 the Rams defense that made the Super Bowl just last year. The Rams even improved defensively in 2019, going from No. 17 in Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA metric in 2018 to No. 9 this year.

The 72-year-old Phillips has been coaching in the NFL since 1976, and he will remain one of the top coordinators in the game for as long as he wants to work.

Sure to be a highly coveted coaching hire, here are three teams that should target Phillips to help turn around their defense.

1. New York Giants

Saquon Barkley takes a handoff for the Giants.
Saquon Barkley takes a handoff for the Giants. / Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Giants hired former Patriots wide receivers coach Joe Judge as their new head coach just one day after Phillips was let go. Judge is just 38 years old and was never an offensive or defensive coordinator in either college or the pros. He could use some veteran leadership on his staff. The Giants went 9-23 under Pat Shurmur's tenure, largely due to their many defensive issues. From DVOA (24th and 27th in Shurmur's two years) to the eye test, the Giants defense struggled. While they have invested heavily on the defensive side of the ball under GM Dave Gettleman, they have not yet reaped the benefits. Phillips could play a big role in maximizing the talent and giving their young offensive weapons like Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley some support on the other side of the ball.

2. Cleveland Browns

Damarious Randall makes a tackle in a game against the Bengals.
Damarious Randall makes a tackle in a game against the Bengals. / Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Under the recently fired Freddie Kitchens, the Cleveland Browns had major leadership issues. Hiring an experienced coordinator like Wade Phillips would go a long way to resolving those problems. The Browns finished No. 22 in defensive DVOA and were abysmal down the stretch, taking a big step back from their 2018 ranking of 12th. Aside from his credentials and scheme, Phillips would bring a healthy amount of stability to a Browns team that seemingly already has all the required talent in place, but that has yet to live up to their potential. This situation will depend on how Browns owner Jimmy Haslam opts to replace Kitchens and GM John Dorsey. Regardless, whoever takes the job could be well served by targeting Phillips to run the defense.

3. Carolina Panthers

Carolina players celebrate after making a play.
Carolina players celebrate after making a play. / Quinn Harris/Getty Images

With the Panthers officially hiring Matt Rhule away from Baylor, the search is on for Carolina's next defensive coordinator. The Panthers finished 25th in defensive efficiency and 31st in scoring defense last year, but still have talented players like Luke Keuchly, Eric Reid, and Dontari Poe. Outside of a brief stint with the Giants, Matt Rhule has no NFL experience and has coached the offense throughout his career. If Rhule is unable to pry his assistants away from Baylor, Phillips could be a solid option for the Panthers.

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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.