SAN FRANCISCO --After guiding the Broncos' defense to the top of the league in most metrics, Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips was named the Assistant Coach of the Year by the Associated Press at the NFL Honors award show Saturday.
Phillips earlier was named the co-Assistant Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America, sawing the award with Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who left to take the head-coaching position in Cleveland.
This week has seen Phillips' career and handiwork in the spotlight as he returns to the Super Bowl for the first time in 26 years, since his first season as Denver's defensive coordinator in 1989. Phillips guided the Broncos to the league's top ranking in total defense and passing defense and the league's best average per play, average per pass play and average per rush.
Denver's defense had never finished atop the league in total defense until the 2015 season, and it was accomplished by molding a scheme that fit the players that he inherited, with just one new starter (Darian Stewart) and a strong core.
"He's one of the best guys at getting things and letting you play your game," said inside linebacker Danny Trevathan. "He puts you in the best position possible. He doesn't really yell at you, he makes you feel like it's on you. You want to go out there and play and you don't want to mess up for him. You don't want to mess up for yourself because you feel like you owe him.
"The way he came in was so humble, it was new to me. I'm not used to having a coach sit back and just watch and observe and then talk to you, so I feel like I took more of a ownership and a leadership role with I'm so I appreciate him coming here and giving me that chance to play within the scheme."
Throughout the week, Phillips deferred to the work of his players and staff, including Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar and Inside Linebackers Coach Reggie Herring, both of whom worked with him in Houston.
"Really, it is the staff. It is the guys that I'm working with and two of the guys I've worked with for a long time: Bill Kollar and Reggie Herring," Phillips said. "That really helps, you know.
"I don't have to go as long in meetings to discuss, 'Hey, how we want to play the defensive line or how we play the inside backers.' Working with the people that you've worked with before who are great coaches, that makes it a lot easier but the staff is tremendous."
It's a tremendous staff with a great leader who received one honor he deserved Saturday. He hopes the other comes Sunday night at Levi's Stadium in Super Bowl 50.