Wade Phillips is no stranger to coaching against dynasty teams and Hall of Fame quarterbacks with a Super Bowl on the line or in the Super Bowl.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the team of the 1970s, the San Francisco 49ers were the team of the 1980s and the New England Patriots are the team of this era.
And they had all Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and now Tom Brady.
And Phillips coached against all three.
He was a young coach working for his father in 1978-79 when the Houston Oilers lost to the Steelers in back-to-back AFC title games. Five of the Steelers’ 11 offensive starters made the Hall of Fame.
He was the defensive coordinator of the Broncos when Montana and the 49ers routed Denver, 55-10, after the 1989 season.
He was also the defensive coordinator for the Broncos after the 2015 season, when they beat the Patriots 20-18 in the AFC title game.
He then went on to win his only Super Bowl ring when the Broncos beat Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, 24-10.
And now Phillips will get a chance to coach against Brady and the Patriots, this time in the Super Bowl for the Los Angeles Rams, in a quest for his second ring.
Even though the Patriots lost five road games in the regular season, they protected Brady in their two playoff games as he was sacked just once and hit just three times.
Although Brady picked the Chiefs’ defense apart in the AFC title game and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton was fired, the Patriots would have lost if Dee Ford hadn’t lined up offsides to nullify a late Chiefs interception.
When Phillips Broncos beat the Patriots in 2015, they put pressure on Brady, sacking him four times and hitting him 17 times.
“Really, that was one of the great defenses of all-time,” Phillips said. “People were comparing (the Broncos) to the ’85 Bears.”
Nobody is comparing the Rams to the ’85 Bears. They ranked 14th in pass defense and 23rd in run defense although they created 30 turnovers.
As USA Today has pointed out, Phllips’ Bronco defense not only put the heat on Brady four years ago, but they counted on cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris to be physical at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the timing of the receivers’ routes.
In a strange coincidence, Talib now plays for the Rams.
Still, the Patriots had a lot more injury problems in 2015 and are much healthier now.
Coach Bill Belichick of the Patriots said Phillips hasn’t changed his defense a lot in decades.
He said Phillips has done it against all kinds of offenses.
“I think that is a real credit to what he put together 30 years ago,’’ Belchick said.
But it also might make it easier for Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to plot how to attack the defense.
Of his success against Brady in 2015, Phillips said, “I’ve had teams that played well against him that didn’t do very well (otherwise).”
He added, “That team did really well.”
Phillips knows that scheme only takes you so far against the Patriots.
“You can’t fool the great quarterbacks,’’ Phillips said. “You have to outplay them.”
The Rams have played well against the run in the playoffs, holding the Dallas Cowboys to 50 yards and the New Orleans Saints to 48.
Still, it will come down to whether Phillips’ defense – featuring Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Dante Fowler up front – can keep Brady out of his comfort zone.
And we will find out what Phillips, who had been a defensive coordinator for eight teams, a head coach for three and an interim head coach for three others, plans to dial up in an attempt to stop Brady the way he did four years ago.