Renck: Broncos players insist Woods is ready to take over defense

Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive backs coach Joe Woods on the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter of the AFC Divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Photo by Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps nearly as important as the Denver Broncos finding its next head coach may be the process of surrounding whomever that may be with a strong coaching staff, including talented coordinators.

During the last two seasons, outgoing head coach Gary Kubiak benefitted from the hire of Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator, who led one of the top units in the NFL both in 2015 and 2016.

However, Denver 7 Broncos Insider Troy Renck told Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan’s “The Drive” on Tuesday that it’s “growing increasingly unlikely” that Phillips is back as a member of the new coaching regime.

“The door hasn’t been shut until there’s a new coach. (General manager) John Elway said the new coach will decide on the coordinators and the coaching staff, but it doesn’t look good for Wade,” Renck said.

Renck said he spoke with Phillips after the final game of the season, and the veteran defensive mind said he’d like to stay in Denver but that he also would like to be compensated for his job performance over the past two seasons.

“I don’t know if he wants to be the top-paid defensive coordinator, but it’s certainly in that conversation. The Broncos may decide to move on from that. And it’s very telling that if they wanted him, he would be under contract,” Renck said. “And his situation could be independent of the coach. You could tell the new coach you’re keeping Wade Phillips. They didn’t do that.”

So, should Phillips move on, Renck said the top internal candidate to fill the defensive coordinator slot would be defensive backs coach Joe Woods, who has the backing of nearly a dozen players on the Broncos defense.

“I’ve talked to probably 10 players over the last week. Every one of them, while they would be sad to see Wade go, insists that Joe Woods is ready,” Renck said.

Woods is a 24 year coaching veteran of the NFL, working with defensive backs over the last 12 years in Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, and with Denver since 2015.

During the past two seasons in Denver, Woods’ secondary unit has been the best in the NFL, giving up a league low in yards passing both seasons and the fewest passing touchdowns in 2016.

Dubbed the “No Fly Zone,” the unit had two cornerbacks — Chris Harris Jr and Aqib Talib — selected as first-team All-Pro members in 2016.

Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @JohnnyHart7.


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Johnny Hart

Johnny Hart is a digital content producer for Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan and He's a proud graduate of Colorado State University, and he has covered Denver-area professional sports since 2012. Follow Johnny on Twitter: @johnnyhart7.