With Gary Kubiak taking the week off for medical reasons, the Broncos had to appoint an interim head coach for their game against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night. To some surprise, they opted to go with special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, despite the fact that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has head-coaching experience in the NFL.
Perhaps the only person outside the building who wasn’t caught off guard was Phillips himself. While he may be one of the best coordinators in the league, his track record in the head job is not so good — and that includes interim stints.
Wade Phillips asked if he was surprised he wasn't named interim HC. "Uh, no. If you look at my interim record … (laughs)."
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) October 11, 2016
Phillips has been an NFL head coach three times, posting a respectable 79-57 record in parts of seven seasons at Denver, Buffalo and Dallas. A 1-5 record in the playoffs was the real problem there. However, Phillips also pulled interim stints at New Orleans, Atlanta and most recently in Houston, going 2-7 in those situations. With the Texans in 2013, he guided the team to an 0-3 finish.
Of course, interim coaches typically take over for somebody who’s been fired or resigned, indicating the team is already in poor shape. The 2016 Broncos are not your typical interim situation.
Regardless, it still makes sense to hand the headset over to DeCamillis for a number of reasons. For one, he was the assistant head coach for the Bears in 2013 and ’14, so it’s a role he has prepared for. It also alleviates the pressure on Phillips and particularly offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who already have enough on their plate with the play-calling duties on their respective sides of the ball.
So while Phillips may joke about his record as an interim coach, that likely had little to do with what went into the decision.