Former NFL coach Wade Phillips underwent a lengthy interview yesterday for the Washington Redskins’ vacant defensive coordinator position, and Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said the club would fill the post within two days.
Schottenheimer refused to call Phillips, Denver’s coach in 1993-94 and Buffalo’s the past three seasons, his top candidate. But Schottenheimer said former Arizona coach Vince Tobin is not certain to interview, adding to speculation that Phillips has the job if he wants it.
Schottenheimer maintained that his brother, Kurt, is a candidate for any of the three remaining assistants positions on defense coordinator, linebackers and secondary.
Meanwhile, the offensive staff is nearly complete, with Cleveland line coach Tony Sparano near a deal to oversee tight ends. Sparano, 39, also spent 1999 with the Browns as a quality control assistant following five years as coach of the University of New Haven.
One interview is scheduled for today: Cleveland secondary coach Jerry Holmes, for the same position under Schottenheimer. Holmes, like Sparano, had not coached in the NFL before joining the Browns in 1999.
Two weeks ago Schottenheimer offered the defensive coordinator job to Ted Cottrell, Phillips’ coordinator the past three seasons in Buffalo. Cottrell instead became the New York Jets’ assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, leading Schottenheimer to re-inquire about the interest of Phillips, with whom he had spoken by phone early in the search.
Phillips, 53, spent all afternoon and most of the evening with Schottenheimer and was scheduled to fly back to Buffalo this morning. He still isn’t sure if he wants to get back into coaching so soon, and he isn’t looking at any opportunities besides the one here. The combination of Schottenheimer’s involvement and Washington’s roster made Phillips call this opening “intriguing.”
“We’ll see,” Phillips said. “I heard there’s a lot of Texans moving into D.C., so I wanted to check it out. [Seriously,] I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t interested. It’s what’s best for him, what’s best for me.”
Said Schottenheimer: “I think Wade would like to coach. I’m sure he’s ready to dive back in it right now, but he thought enough about this situation that he wanted to come back in and talk about it.”
Phillips went 21-11 as Bills coach in 1998 and ‘99. Buffalo lost in the playoffs’ wild-card round both years, though the latter defeat came at Tennessee on the “Music City Miracle.” A quarterback controversy, injuries and poor special teams led to a 8-8 record last season, and Phillips’ refusal to fire several assistants triggered his dismissal.
Phillips has had four stints as a defensive coordinator, with the past two (Denver, 1989-92; Buffalo, 1995-97) leading to coaching jobs. He also served as Philadelphia’s coordinator from 1986 to 1988 and New Orleans’ from 1981 to 1985. His Broncos units in 1989 and ‘91 led the AFC in fewest points allowed.