ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) At 67, Wade Phillips has lost neither his passion nor his esprit.
Both are on full display, along with his trademark confidence, as he begins his second stint as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.
Phillips, who took last year off, said he hasn't gotten his fill of football after working for nine NFL teams since 1976.
''I love coaching. That's what I do,'' Phillips said. ''My wife, Laurie, wanted to get me out of the house after a year of being around so I love what I do. I was a lousy head coach, but I'm a pretty good defensive coordinator and that's what I do well. So I wanted to get back to doing that and I couldn't be happier.''
New head coach Gary Kubiak hired Phillips after pursuing Cincinnati secondary coach Vance Joseph, who also interviewed for Denver's head coaching job. Joseph was an assistant in Houston for Kubiak and Phillips.
''I think John and Kube and me all feel like Vance is a bright young star,'' Phillips said. ''But I believe I'm of first magnitude myself. I think that's the way they judge brightness of stars, anyway. So it worked out great. It worked out great for me and I think I'm going to do a great job for this team.''
Phillips also served as Denver's defensive coordinator from 1989-92 and as the Broncos head coach from 1993-94.
''The `91 defense here was one of the best I've ever had. We lost 10-7 in the playoff game in Buffalo but I think we threw a screen pass for a touchdown to them. That's how they got 10. We had a great bunch. I've had a great bunch everywhere I've been. I've been lucky to get into the right situations with good players and I think we have them here.''
Both Kubiak and John Elway, now the Broncos' executive vice president and general manager, played in that AFC championship game against the Bills that year. After Elway's tipped pass was returned for the Bills' touchdown, Elway got hurt and Kubiak came in and completed 11 of 12 passes for 136 yards in the fourth quarter.
Phillips feigned forgetfulness when asked if he recalled which of his bosses threw the pick-6.
''Yeah, I don't know,'' he said with a laugh. ''I don't know who caught it either. `Kube' almost brought us back in that game. (Running back Steve) Sewell fumbled right at the end of the game and we missed three field goals in the wind. We had the opportunity to win it all there.''
Asked about coming back to Denver, Phillips joked, ''Well, when you've coached for 32 teams, you almost have to come back to one you've been with before.''
Phillips is evaluating personnel as he prepares to install a staple 3-4 scheme in Denver.
This latest gig of his is different in that he's not inheriting a reclamation project but a defense that ranked third in the league under Jack Del Rio last year.
''I'm pretty good at what I'm doing. I've done it a lot of times. This is probably the best situation defensively that I've come into,'' Phillips said. ''Normally they've had a bad year and they've brought me in as defensive coordinator. This team has a lot of talent on defense.
''But we're going to do better. That's what I do is improve them.''
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