June 21, 2011.
What appealed to you about the Texans?
“They had a real good offense. I knew
more about their team than some. It just
seemed like a natural thing. It was
about like San Diego when I went there.”
Did you get a chance to meet with your
players before the lockout?
“We had 1-2 days in there. I met some of
‘em. DeMeco was around. That’s good.
He’s kind of the defensive captain.
Mario came in, especially when we
changed him to linebacker. He was
excited about that. I met some of ‘em,
but not very many.”
Gary says your confidence rubs off on
people. Where does that confidence come
“It’s just experience. I’ve made some
mistakes. You learn from them. When I
first started, it’s where my dad really
helped me. The other coaches would be
arguing about stuff, and he’d say, `I’ve
done it this way and this way and this
way, and this way is the best because…’
I know there’s not just one way to do
“You’ve got to realize I’ve done it 20
games a year for 35 years. You’re
talking about a lot of football games.
It’s experience. It’s almost twice as
much as a college coach in the same
amount of time.”
How has your defensive philosophy
“When we first came in the league, it
was simple. We didn’t think it was
simple, but it was. Everybody had a
two-back offense. There wasn’t any
one-back offenses. There weren’t
substitution offenses and defenses. They
played the same people all the time.
“It has changed quite a bit. Just
formations, motions, shifts. When Joe
Gibbs started shifting everybody, that
added a new wrinkle to it. They’ve gone
empty sets and all kinds of things. It
has made it pretty complicated. You can
have a simple defense, but the
adjustments are complicated because they
can show you so many things.”
It seems like much more of a mental
challenge for defensive players.
“I think it has progressed year by year.
Something would be added one year, and
if it worked, people would copy it and
keep going. We had the run-and-shoot for
awhile, and that worked OK. But they
couldn’t score when they got down
And defenses are as complex as offenses
“That’s where I think college and high
school have fallen behind. You can’t
teach all that stuff because of time.
The playoff games are 45-40. The college
games are all high scoring. We can give
more looks, teach more, audible blitzes
to try and offset being spread out. We
also have better athletes.”
Who has been the biggest coaching
influence on you?
“My dad. We started with a 3-4. He put
it in at Houston. We’ve adjusted a lot.
Some of the things we still do. Some of
the terminology is the same.”
Your basic belief is speeding up the
“That’s some of it. You’re just more
mobile. It’s about speed on the field.
You’ve got linebackers that can run. The
matchups are better. When the Zone Blitz
came in, the 3-4 is a lot better.
Linebackers are used to doing that.”
What did you see when you began studying
“You try to look objectively at
everything. I looked at schemes to see
what they’d been asked to play. I
watched the movement of the individuals.
It’s like making evaluations of college
What gets you excited about this team?
“I think we have some talented players,
some guys who can run and move well. I
certainly worried about how young the
team was. We let two safeties go, two
experienced guys. You worry about the
How much are you missing by not having
the guys on the field?
“It’s not just teaching the scheme. We
can teach that pretty quickly. It’s how
the individuals are going to play in
that scheme, getting everybody in the
Are you comfortable with your nose
“Oh yeah. I like both Cody and Mitchell.
Cody actually played kind of a cocked
nose last year, and played that real
well. You can play it that way.”
You like Earl Mitchell?
“He needs to play. He’s real strong
lower body, which is what you really
like in there. He’s got the quickness
and speed. I really liked him on film. I
would have liked to have seen more of
him. He’s a good looking player.”
What’s your opinion of Cushing?
“He’s a violent player. You can tell
even on tape that he loves to play. He’s
going to be a get after ‘em kind of guy.
He’s tough, real physical. He has good
instincts and can run. He’s a good
football player. He’s a player you want
on your team. I thought he looked good
inside because he can get to the
Talk about shifting Mario.
“We were looking at the draft and kept
saying, `We’ve got to get a guy who can
rush.’ Well, we have a guy. He should be
a top rusher. I finally said, `Maybe we
don’t need a rookie who may or may not
be able to do it. We’ve got a guy who
can do it.’ When you put him out there,
you need a defensive lineman. I thought
it turned out really good for us.”
What about Kareem Jackson?
“I’ve only been around him once. He said
all the right things then. But that was
after the deal in Puerto Rico or
wherever it was. That worries me. I
think technique-wise he needed a lot of
work. That’s what we’ve got to do with
him. I guess he was able to play at
Alabama without a lot of technique
without worrying about staying low
enough or moving his feet, those kinds
of things. I think that caught up with
him. I think we can coach him. We’ll
drill him enough that we’ll go over and
over and over.”
You like your front seven?
“I think we’re strong in the front
seven. I think we’re going to be real
strong. Right now, we’re real young in
the secondary. I don’t know those guys.”
What goals do you have for this defense?
“We set our goals to be in the Top 10 in
most categories. You try to make
realistic goals. I understand when
you’re 31st or 32nd, but I still think
you reach for thing.”
Were you ever intimidated by having a
famous father in the same business?
“He became more famous when I was with
him. I was here with the Oilers. He was
a famous high school coaches. I was in
the fieldhouse all the time. At
Nederland, I was in the fieldhouse. I
did take the water bucket out there. The
players were my heroes, therefore, my
dad was my hero because he was the
coach. Everybody loved the football
coach because he was winning.
“Bum was a famous high school coach.
When you’d go to coaching school,
everybody wanted to hear what he had to
say. Gordon Wood once told me, `You know
I’d won three or four state
championships, and I’d walk into the
coaching school and they were all
wanting to know where Bum Phillips was
speaking.’ Gordon told me that.”
Are players different today?
“They’re different. Society’s different.
But it always has been changing. People
say pro players this and that. I coached
in high school, college and pro ball.
Before the game, they’re all the same.
They’re all excited to play the game.
They’re not thinking about contracts or
any of that stuff. They’re all the same.
They’ve got the look in their eye.”
You seem so calm on the sideline?
“I try to be analytical. If it comes
down to a situation,…. Some guys rant
and rave, and jump up and down. I want
to know what to call on the next play
and what adjustments to make. That’s the
way I’ve always approached it. I like to
be on the field. I can look a guy in the
eye when he comes off the field and talk
to him. Sometimes they’ve got the
deer-in-the-headlights look, and you’ve
got to settle ‘em down.”
How did you feel about getting fired?
“I took it the same way I did when they
fired us on New Year’s Eve here. We’d
been to two straight AFC Championship
Games and lost in the playoffs to a team
that won the Super Bowl (Oakland). We
lost to the Super Bowl winner three
years in a row. I thought I was a good
coach. The Cowboys won 11 games a year
for three years. We had 33 wins in three
years. In half a year, you’re gone.
That’s just part of it.”
What did you do after getting fired?
“I think I watched football. My dad
said, `You ought to come down and help
the Texans.’ I said, `Well, I don’t
think they need my help right now.”’
What are you most excited about?
“Just the new challenge. And working
with a new team and new players.
Unfortunately for coaches, sometimes
something new generates more energy.”
You’re in a holding pattern now.
“It’s OK right now. If we get a training
camp, we’ll be fine. If we don’t have
training camp, then it’s going to be
harder. We can get all our stuff in.
We’re real player friendly. We can get
it taught. I wish they’d give us three
days with no helmets–just classrooms and
walk-throughs–and then start training
How excited would this town be to have a
good NFL team?
“I know how it can be. I’ve been here
when it was. That was something you
never forget. I’d love to a part of
(Source: Houston Chronicle)