- Americans don’t support sending U.S. troops to Ukraine
- Florida lawmakers move to wipe corrupt ‘Boss Hogg’ town from map
- N.C. math whiz to unveil secret of March Madness picks
- An appealing offer: Chiquita merges with Fyffes to make world’s largest banana firm
- Amnesty International says Syria guilty of war crimes for food blockade
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: ‘We are going to crush them’
- Adam Lanza’s dad: He would’ve killed me ‘in a heartbeat’
- North Korea holds election: 100% turnout, Kim Jong-un gets — 100% of vote
- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
Texans coach Wade Phillips taking medical leave
HOUSTON (AP) - Wade Phillips, the veteran coach who has turned the Houston defense into the NFL's best, will have surgery this week to resolve a kidney condition and will be away from the team for a week to 10 days.
The Texans' defensive coordinator disclosed the medical issue Wednesday. He would not specify the condition, but said it is not life threatening, is not cancer, and that doctors recommended that he have the procedure.
Linebackers coach Reggie Herring will run the defense for Houston (10-3) in Sunday's game against Carolina (4-9). Herring was Phillips' linebackers coach in Dallas from 2008-10, then joined Houston's staff after Phillips was hired on Jan. 5.
The Texans said the 64-year-old Phillips was expected to return this season, which will include the expansion team's first playoff game. But his leave is just the latest roadblock for the Texans, who've continued to win despite losing a key player to an injury every week.
Outside linebacker Mario Williams (torn chest muscle) and quarterbacks Matt Schaub (right foot injury) and Matt Leinart (broken left collarbone) are all out for the season, and star receiver Andre Johnson has a strained left hamstring after missing six games with an injury to his right hamstring. On Monday, coach Gary Kubiak said starting right guard Mike Brisiel had surgery on his broken right leg.
Phillips has probably contributed more to the Texans' success this season than anyone.
Fired as the coach of the Dallas Cowboys in the middle of last season, Phillips has talked about feeling rejuvenated with the Texans. He took over the league's worst 2010 defense and implemented a 3-4 alignment before the season.
Houston leads the league in total defense at 275 yards per game. The Texans rank fourth in rushing defense at 91.5 yards per game and third in pass defense at 183.5 yards per game, and have held each of their last seven opponents below 20 points.
The players credit Phillips with not only restoring confidence to the defense, but also creating a scheme that is fun to play.
"We're playing good defense all over," two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans said recently. "Of course it feels good, to be able to get out there and stop some people. You're definitely not worried about people scoring on you because you know everybody is being accountable. Everybody's holding up their end and knowing what they're supposed to do, so you're comfortable when you're out there."
Under Phillips' guidance, several Texans are having career years.
Linebacker Brian Cushing has regained his form from 2009, when he was named the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year. He leads the Texans with 86 tackles, and also has two interceptions and three sacks.
Outside linebacker Connor Barwin leads the team with 9 1/2 sacks after moving into Williams' role, and the same position where DeMarcus Ware excelled under Phillips in Dallas. Barwin, a converted defensive end, has 25 quarterback hits and seven pass break-ups. He had a franchise-record four sacks in Houston's 20-13 win at Jacksonville on Nov. 27.
Rookie defensive end J.J. Watt has 4 1/2 sacks and two fumble recoveries and leads the defensive line with 43 tackles, and rookie linebacker Brooks Reed, pressed into action after Williams was hurt, has already set a franchise record for a first-year player with six sacks.
Phillips has clearly found a new home in Houston under coach Gary Kubiak. He ran the defense in Denver from 1989-92, overlapping Kubiak's playing career as John Elway's backup for the Broncos, but their history goes back even further.
Phillips and Kubiak first met in the late 1970s, when Kubiak was a ball boy and Wade was an assistant for the Houston Oilers, who were coached by Wade's father, Bum.
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- Investigators puzzle: How does a 777 jetliner just disappear into thin air?
- As Crimea falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
- CURL: Today's GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Adam Lanza's dad: He would've killed me 'in a heartbeat'
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again