Rams part ways with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Wade Phillips will not return next season as defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams.

Phillips signed a three-year contract with the Rams after Sean McVay was named coach in 2017. The 72-year-old coordinator said last month amid rumors he would not be retained that he wanted to continue coaching, something he reiterated Monday in confirming reports of his exit.

Running backs coach Skip Peete, who was hired in 2016 by Jeff Fisher and then retained by McVay, also was let go.

A season after winning the NFC championship and playing in Super Bowl LIII, the Rams were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16 and finished 9-7.

The Rams' defense ranked 17th in points allowed, giving up an average of 22.6 points per game. While often stout, the unit also suffered several lapses, evident in Week 16 when the San Francisco 49ers converted twice on third-and-16 to kick a game-winning field goal that eliminated the Rams from postseason contention. In losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys, the defense experienced a total meltdown, allowing more than 40 points in each game.

McVay gave no specific explanation for his decision not to renew Phillips' contract in a brief statement issued through the team.

"Coach Wade has been a veteran voice in heading our defense for the past three seasons," McVay said. "His wealth of experience, sound advice, and helpful demeanor has been invaluable to our coaches and players, and also has set an example for me as a head coach and a leader of men.''

In mid-October, the Rams added cornerback Jalen Ramsey to Phillips' defense, which already included two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. Because of Ramsey's addition, the secondary moved to playing more man coverage, which enabled the front to accumulate more quarterback sacks in its 3-4 scheme. The Rams' 50 sacks ranked fourth in the league.

However, Phillips' unit ultimately did not play with enough consistency.

McVay asked Phillips to become his defensive coordinator before he interviewed for the Rams' head-coaching position in 2017. Phillips, who knew McVay through his son, Wes Phillips, initially chuckled at the idea, given that McVay was 30 years old at the time. But when McVay was named the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, Phillips -- whose contract had not been renewed by the Denver Broncos following a head-coaching change -- did not hesitate to join him.

In their first season together, McVay and Phillips transformed a four-win team into an 11-5 division champion. The defense ranked 12th in the league, allowing 20.6 points per game.

The Rams' playoff berth that season marked the continuation of an impressive streak in Phillips' career. Since 1989, every team he has joined -- the Rams, the 2015 Broncos, 2011 Houston Texans, 2007 Cowboys, 2004 San Diego Chargers, 2002 Atlanta Falcons, 1995 Buffalo Bills and 1989 Broncos -- made the playoffs in his first season there.

Last season, as the Rams' offense outpaced opponents, the defense (which allowed 24 points per game, ranking 20th) made several late-game stops that contributed to a 6-1 record in one-score games and helped the team to a 13-win season, a second consecutive division title and the NFC championship before a loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

Phillips began coaching in the NFL in 1976, serving as linebackers coach of the Houston Oilers, where he was hired by his father, legendary coach Bum Phillips.

He served as the defensive coordinator of the 2015 Broncos, who won Super Bowl 50.

Phillips has coached 20 Hall of Famers and has had 101 players, including 35 on defense, selected to the Pro Bowl, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.