ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** Perhaps no offseason addition has been as much a catalyst for the Denver Broncos as Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips, who transformed a formidable and talented defense into a dominant and terrifying unit.
For his level of success, the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) named Phillips Co-Assistant Coach of the Year, along with former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who was hired by the Cleveland Browns to be their new head coach on Jan. 16.
Check out photos from Wade Phillips' coaching career, including a stint as the Broncos' defensive coordinator from 1989-1992 and head coach from 1993-1994. All photos from Associated Press.
When Phillips arrived in February as part of Head Coach Gary Kubiak's new staff, Phillips mentioned that he wanted to unleash the defense, and after a season in which the Broncos led the league in sacks and in fewest yards allowed, it's clear he and his defensive staff have had that impact.
"That's what a defensive coordinator is in the NFL. You take the talent of the players you have and the really talented ones, you do what they do well and let them do it. It's not the scheme itself; it's the players," Phillips said at his introductory press conference. "What you need to do to be successful is utilize the talents you have on defense, whether it's cornerbacks, safeties, whatever it is. Utilize their talent and that's what we try to do and we've been pretty successful with that."
The defense has garnered multiple accolades already with four Pro Bowl selections (outside linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, and cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib), a first-team All-Pro (Miller) and a second-team All-Pro (Harris).
With talent from the defensive front to the safeties, Phillips' group established themselves either at the top or near it in multiple statistical categories, including the following:
- Total yards per game allowed: No. 1 (283.1 yards)
- Total yards per play allowed: No. 1 (4.39 yards)
- Rushing yards per game allowed: No. 3 (83.6 yards)
- Rushing yards per play allowed: No. 1 (3.28 yards)
- Passing yards per game allowed: No. 1 (199.6 yards)
- Passing yards per play allowed: No. 1 (5.57 yards)
- Sacks per pass attempt: No. 1 (9.08 percent)
- Total sacks: No. 1 (52 sacks)
- Plays of 20 yards allowed: No. 1 (46 total, 41 passing, 5 rushing)
- Opponent passer rating: No. 4 (78.8)
- Points allowed per game: No. 4 (18.5 points)
- First downs allowed per game: No. 5 (18.1 first downs)
- Third-down conversion percentage allowed: No. 7 (35.24 percent)
- Fourth-down conversion percentage allowed: No. 8 (35.71 percent)