Beyond the Boxscore
Old school tough: Wade Phillips comes back from tumor, only asks for a betterdamn chair
You can bet that someone in the operations department at Reliant Stadium is searching for a heck of an ergonomic chair. The world's most comfortable office chair might be in order.
For that was Wade Phillips' only complaint in his return to coaching the Houston Texans' defense Sunday, according to head coach Gary Kubiak.
"It was a long, tiring day for him to be up there (in the press box) for three and a half hours," Kubiak said in his weekly Monday press conference. "He told me the chair wasn’t real comfortable, so we’ll try to get him a more comfortable chair. But he came out OK.
"It’s a long road back from what he’s been through."
Missing only two games after such a surgery speaks to Phillips' immense commitment to these 10-6 Texans and his guys on defense. Is this Clint Eastwood or a football coach?
Kubiak is not kidding on the long road back.
The 64-year-old Phillips tried to keep the extent of his medical condition private, but his dad Bum Phillips told the crowd at a weekend reception for the Texas Bowl Gridiron Legends that his son had “a tumor the size of a volleyball that encompassed his kidney and his gall bladder, so he had them all taken out," as reported by Bob West of The Port Arthur News. Bum Phillips also held his hands about a foot apart and said Wade Phillips had a scar "about this long," according to West.
Now, Bum Phillips can embellish a story better than anyone. But even if the old Oilers coach isn't exactly 100 percent precise on just how big the tumor in his son was, it puts a new light on just what the defensive coordinator who's changed everything for the Texans is going through. Bum Phillips did say the tumor wasn't malignant, which matches with one of the few public remarks Wade Phillips made on his condition — that it wasn't cancerous.
Still, missing only two games after such a surgery speaks to Phillips' immense commitment to these 10-6 Texans and his guys on defense.
Is this Clint Eastwood or a football coach?
Phillips has his gallbladder and kidney operated on, a mass removed, and he's back coaching football in less time than many Houstonians take for a winter break. You have to hope that he's putting his own health first. But you also cannot help but admire the guy's old school character.
It's only a kidney. Get me back with my team.
No wonder why rookie quarterback T.J. Yates isn't complaining about a potentially separated non-throwing shoulder (which also happened to be revealed by Bum Phillips) heading into Saturday's 3:30 p.m. national TV matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, the first playoff game in Texans' franchise history. Kubiak said Monday that he expects Yates to start against the Bengals, which is what everyone expected by the time the rookie left Reliant Stadium on Sunday.
Anybody who wondered if the Texans wouldn't be wise to consider replacing Yates with Jake Delhomme (this writer included) as the rookie struggled in Indianapolis on that Thursday nighter received their answer on Sunday. Delhomme came in and looked . . . well, he looked like a 36-year-old guy who spent most of this season on a farm and only played in five games all of last season.
Delhomme's stats weren't bad: 18-for-28 for 211 yards and a touchdown. And he produced 12 second half points. But he never showed any of the spark that Yates has in flashes.
The rookie fifth-round draft pick from North Carolina looked as good as he has all season in that opening drive, completing all four of his throws in a crisp, 90-yard Texans touchdown march. Almost all of it came after he was slammed into the Reliant grass on the first offensive play of the game, hurting that left shoulder, too.
"He was really sharp early in the game and he continues to do good stuff," Kubiak said of the 24-year-old. "As I’ve told ya’ll, he is very young and this is a big, big game, but he’s the best guy for our football team. If he is able to go and do the things that we need him to do in practice, then we will turn him loose and let him go.”
It turns out that Gary Kubiak knows his quarterbacks. The Texans clearly do not have a better option than Yates that isn't on the injured list.
And no one has a tougher defensive coordinator. Wade Phillips will be back in the Reliant Stadium press box this Saturday, calling the defensive signals from the coaching booth. It's unsure at this point if he'd be able to travel with the team to Baltimore for the second round if the Texans beat the Bengals.
But who's betting against this determined coaching lifer in anything?
Now, if somebody can just get the man a comfortable chair.