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Wade Phillips: "You adapt the scheme to what the players can do, not what you can think of."

Wade Phillips

Wade Phillips has spent the better part of the last 40 years coaching in the NFL, 24 of them as a defensive coordinator and eight as a head coach. He took three separate teams to the playoffs, and on Sunday he'll coordinate the Denver Broncos' defense in Super Bowl 50. Add in that Phillips has a total of 46 in coaching and, really, the entirety of 68 years pacing a sideline and watching film and if there's anyone who might think to himself, "You play defense the way I want it played or you don't play at all," it might be him.

Except he isn't that way at all.

Here's Phillips detailing his coaching philosophy via The Monday Morning Quarterback:

“I don’t understand the people that say, ‘Hey, this is our scheme and that guy can’t play in it,’” Phillips said Friday. “Well, to me, there’s something wrong with your scheme. You adapt the scheme to what the players can do, not what you can think of. We’ve always done it that way. We started with [Hall of Fame defensive end] Elvin Bethea. We played a lot of the same things that we play now, but he was so quick and so fast that we stunted him all the time. He was our second-leading tackler on the team as a defensive end. He was a great player, but we didn’t let him sit there all the time playing our technique that you have to play, two-gap or whatever. The nose guards that I’ve had—I’ve had four or five of them make the Pro Bowl. All of them are different. Ted Washington was huge. We played more in the middle with him, but he controlled the gap. Jamal Williams, he was a powerful guy, so we offset him on the nose and played the same gap, but he hard-charged. We had Greg Kragen here. He was an undersized nose guard and we stunted him to that same gap. It’s the same defense, but it’s different players. That’s what you have to do. We played Quentin Jammer at corner. His name was perfect because he wasn’t great playing off, but he was great at jamming a guy on the line of scrimmage. In zone, man and everything that we did, he jammed the guy on line of scrimmage and played well. That’s what you do. That’s a simple way of telling you how you play with players you have and fit your scheme to what they can do.”

This week's MMQB is loaded with more on this and other excellent content.