Former Oilers Head Coach Ed Biles Dies

David Boclair

Ed Biles, a former Houston Oilers head coach, died Sunday morning from leukemia. He was 88.

Biles led the Oilers for two-plus seasons that kicked off a sustained stretch of futility in which the franchise had three head coaches in five years, had a top 10 overall draft pick five straight years and won five games or fewer each season.

The team’s defensive coordinator for six seasons under Bum Phillips, Biles was promoted to head coach when Phillips was fired following the 1980 season and three straight playoff appearances (two conference championship games). Houston went 7-9 in 1981 under Biles but was 1-8 in the strike-shortened 1982 campaign and lost its first six games of 1983, at which time Biles was fired.

He was 8-23 as head coach.

As a coordinator, his defense twice led the NFL in takeaways (1977 and 1979). The first time was on the strength of an NFL-best 28 fumble recoveries and the second time was behind a league-leading 34 interceptions.

His 1980 defense ranked fourth in the NFL in passing yards allowed, eighth in rushing yards allowed, fifth in total yards allowed and second in points allowed.

After being fired, he never worked in the NFL again. He did return briefly to coaching, in arena football (2005, 2006). He also served as color commentary for football broadcasts in Houston.

He joined the Oilers in 1974 as a defensive assistant under Phillips, who was then the defensive coordinator. Before that, he worked with the New York Jets (1971-73) and New Orleans Saints (1969-70).

Biles jumped to the NFL after season seasons as head coach at Xavier, where he went 39-28-3.

He has been inducted into the Xavier and Hamilton County (Ohio) Athletic Halls of Fame.