Wade Phillips interested in Texans job

The Houston Texans have identified former Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips as a candidate for their now-vacant defensive coordinator's post. If the Texans want him, Phillips said, he's interested.

"Yes, I am interested," Phillips told the Houston Chronicle on Monday night. "I know the owner and coach. I like them, and they're guys I'd like to work for."

ABC13 in Houston reported that Phillips had accepted the Texans' coordinator job, but Phillips denied that report to the Houston Chronicle. Phillips told the Chronicle he has an interview with the Texans on Wednesday.

"That's not true," Phillips told the Chronicle on Tuesday night. "I haven't even interviewed for the job. I talked to Gary today, but I haven't been offered the job. We're going to talk [Wednesday]."

The Texans fired defensive coordinator Frank Bush on Monday and made wholesale changes on the defensive staff. Gary Kubiak, however, will return for another season as Houston's coach despite the team's 6-10 record.

Texans owner Bob McNair said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that he kept Kubiak mainly because he felt like the players and continued to work hard and stay united as the season unraveled.

"One of Gary's strengths, and one of the things that influenced me is that, in spite of the tough period we went through, Gary was able to hold the team together," McNair said. "That's the sign of a good coach, because it's very difficult to do that.

"I was in the locker room, I was on the practice field, I saw how we played," McNair said. "He had everything under control the whole time."

The Texans lost eight of their last 10 games, mostly due to a defense that gave up a league-high 4,280 yards passing along with 33 touchdown passes, tied with Dallas for most in the league.

Speculation has swirled for a week that McNair is interested in meeting with Phillips, who's been a defensive coordinator most of his career. Bum Phillips, Wade's father and the former Houston Oilers coach, showed up at Texans practice last week and chatted with McNair.

In comments to KRIV-TV in Houston, McNair hinted that Phillips is the front-runner for the job. He also revealed that he has already spoken with Phillips but said the conversations have not been "in-depth."

"Well, there's certainly no one better qualified out there right now," McNair told KRIV. "We are going to talk to anyone that we think is a highly qualified person, but I don't know of anybody right now that's better qualified."

McNair told the AP on Tuesday that Phillips is "one of several" candidates for the defensive coordinator's job.

Kubiak said he's "talked to nobody" about filling the vacancy. Phillips has been out of work since the Cowboys started 1-7, their lone victory a 27-13 win over the Texans in Houston in Week 3.

Phillips was the defensive coordinator in Denver from 1986-92, overlapping Kubiak's playing career as quarterback John Elway's backup for the Broncos.

"I know Wade, I've competed against him many times," Kubiak said. "I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, but we'll talk to a number of people. It's pretty safe to say that Wade will be one of the people we'll talk to, and it'll probably be very quickly."

Kubiak said he wouldn't have a problem switching to a 3-4 defense if the new defensive coordinator desires to play that scheme. Phillips is known for using 3-4 defenses.

Being hired by the Texans would mark a return to Houston for Phillips, who was a player and coach at the University of Houston and also was the Oilers' defensive line coach for his father before both were fired after the 1980 season.

"Coming home to Houston would be an added bonus," Phillips told the Chronicle. "I've got family, friends and classmates there."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.