Rams hire Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator

Phillips gives McVay veteran voice to lean on (1:39)

Adam Schefter explains why the Rams hired Wade Phillips to be the team's defensive coordinator and what the team hopes Sean McVay can become as a head coach. (1:39)

The Rams have officially hired longtime NFL coach Wade Phillips to be their defensive coordinator, the team announced Thursday.

Phillips, 69, will work under Sean McVay, who was hired as the team's head coach last week.

"Wade has seen it all in our league, and I believe that his wealth of knowledge and experience will be a tremendous asset to our entire coaching staff and players," McVay said in a statement. "Our defense has been one of our core strengths and I expect it to continue to grow and thrive under Wade's leadership."

Phillips tweeted his reaction Thursday afternoon:

Phillips, who got his first NFL coaching job in 1976, will take on the role vacated by Gregg Williams, who left to become defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.

The Broncos ranked first in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) in each of Phillips' two years as coordinator, which represented his second stint in Denver. While there, Phillips benefitted from a lock-down secondary. With the Rams, the strength will come on a defensive line that is led by Aaron Donald. One central question could be what Phillips does with veteran defensive end Robert Quinn, who may be asked to stand and play a role similar to Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

Phillips knows McVay because his son, Wes, coached tight ends for McVay's Redskins offense over the last three years. McVay told the Rams he could bring Phillips in as his defensive coordinator during his initial interview, assuming the Broncos let his contract expire.

"I think his resume, of what he's accomplished in this coaching profession, speaks for itself," McVay said Friday, shortly after being introduced as the Rams' new coach. "Being familiar with him, just from my relationship with Wes, there's a certain comfort level that exists. I'm a fan of coaches. And watching what he has accomplished, it's exciting to get an opportunity to work with him and collaborate and figure out a way to establish that winning culture that we all want here."

Phillips has spent 25 seasons as a defensive coordinator with seven teams. He also was head coach of the Denver Broncos (1993-94), Buffalo Bills (1998-2000) and Dallas Cowboys (2007-10), and he served as interim coach for the New Orleans Saints (1985), Atlanta Falcons (2003) and Houston Texans (2013).

Phillips' most recent role came as the coordinator of a Broncos defense that was the backbone of a Super Bowl-winning team in 2015, a season that earned him The Associated Press' NFL Assistant Coach of the Year award. His contract in Denver expired after the 2016 season, which ended with Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak stepping down.

Phillips traditionally runs a 3-4 defense, but the Rams mainly used four down linemen in their three years under Williams.

ESPN's Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.