"I have so much more confidence. Generally, when you make any kind of change, you sort of hold your breath. You say, 'Boy, I hope this works out.' I'm not saying that here. It will work out. [Wade's] done it. He's been there. He's come in, he's looked at our film, we've talked about it, and he just cut to the quick so fast. He saw exactly what our problems were, and he had ideas as to how they could be corrected that weren't necessarily requiring a lot of additional personnel." -- Texans owner Bob McNair on Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips the day he was hired, 1/6/11
To say that the Texans have pinned their hopes and dreams for a monster turnaround season on the schematic acumen of one Wade Allen Phillips would be an understatement. In the letter from President Jamey Rootes that went to season ticket holders this week "welcoming" them to the 2011 season, there was one Texans employee mentioned in the body of the letter.
It wasn't Andre Johnson, the best receiver in the NFL. It wasn't Arian Foster, the 2011 rushing champion. It wasn't Matt Schaub or even head coach Gary Kubiak.
It was Wade Phillips.
McNair's quote at the top almost makes it sound like either he didn't see a single Texans game last year or he thinks Phillips has some sort of otherworldly football Jedi powers. To think that one coach can come in and cure all of the Texans' defensive ills from 2010 "without requiring a lot of additional personnel" is both insane and infuriating, begging the question "If it's as easy as making this one experienced hire, Bob, then why have you been hiring overwhelmed newbies in nearly every important coaching and personnel management position for the last five years?"
When I picture McNair finding out that Phillips would be taking his talents to our fair city, all I can picture is the scene in Pulp Fiction where Jules Winfield finds out that The Wolf would be coming to help dispose of the bloody car where Marvin's face was liberated from his head by a stray Vincent Vega bullet. It's the exact same thing, minus the colorful language but with just as much bloody carnage (fast forward to 1:15):
"I'm Wade Phillips. I solve problems."
The faith placed in Phillips was obvious during draft weekend. The Texans' first five players selected were all on the defensive side of the ball.
If you've ever played in a fantasy football league and co-owned a team with other guys, you know what I'm talking about. I used to co-own a team with three buddies. Ultimately, this dynamic yielded one guy (me) who was basically making all of the picks and the other three guys doing anything from drinking beer and not paying attention to nodding along and saying "Sounds good." That was basically the Texans on draft weekend -- Wade Phillips making all of the picks, Rick Smith nodding along, and Gary Kubiak (figuratively) eating a plate of chicken wings.
Basically, it felt like Wade had been given the keys to the building.
Fast forward to today. Free agency is underway, and despite drafting a shitload of defensive players back in April the Texans shopping list is still heavy on defensive needs. It looks like this:
1. Starting corner (preferably elite) 2. Starting safety 3. More bodies in the front seven
As of 4:27 p.m. Central Time this afternoon, the Texans free agency activity (not including undrafted rookies) consisted of:
1. Re-signing offensive tackle Rashad Butler 2. Re-signing wide receiver Jacoby Jones 3. Re-signing backup quarterback Matt Leinart
Offense, offense, offense.
The offense was ranked third best in the league last year in total yards. The defense was ranked third worst in all of football, and felt much worse than that. And thus far all the Texans have done is ensured that they're bringing back everyone on offense by securing all of their backups.
Meanwhile, rumors swirl about where Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan Joseph, and the like will wind up, and every report has the Texans sitting on the outside looking in right now.
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Therefore, I have to believe that something is tragically wrong with Wade Phillips. Maybe Gary Kubiak locked him in a shed somewhere, perhaps he's been kidnapped, maybe he's fallen and he can't get up. Something is wrong.
Let's just hope that someone finds ol' Wade in time and that he's okay.
(And by "in time" I mean "before all of the good corners and safeties are locked up," and by "he's okay" I mean "the Texans have salary cap space".)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Sirius 94/XM 208 and 1560 The Game, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.