Wade Phillips, who was fired as Dallas Cowboys coach in early November after the team's 1-7 start, has emerged as a candidate to become the Houston Texans' defensive coordinator, according to several league sources.
The sources indicated Wednesday they are picking up signals that coach Gary Kubiak could end up keeping his job with the Texans despite their 5-10 record, which includes losing eight of their past nine games. If Kubiak does stay, Phillips would be a front-runner to take over the defense, which ranks last against the pass (277.1 yards per game) and 29th overall (380.6 yards per game) this season under coordinator Frank Bush.
Former Oilers coach Bum Phillips -- Wade Phillips' 87-year-old father -- and ex-Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini attended Wednesday's practice and urged Texans owner Bob McNair to retain Kubiak despite the team's nosedive this season. Phillips also might have put in a good word for his son, whom he said is eager to land another job.
"Wade doesn't know how to enjoy anything but football," said Bum Phillips, who had lunch with McNair and Texans general manager Rick Smith after practice. "A lot of people, if they don't have football, they play golf or they gamble a lot, or go fishing. He doesn't care about any of that. All he cares about is football. As long as he feels that way, I'm sure he'll stay in it."
Wade Phillips would be one of the most experienced defensive coordinators available, with stints for the Denver Broncos (1989-92), Buffalo Bills (1995-97), Atlanta Falcons (2002-03) and Dallas (2004-06) before he became the Cowboys' head coach.
The Texans have fallen well below expectations this season. Aside from the defense's struggles, teammates have fought on the field, and Kubiak's job security has become a popular topic of conversation in recent weeks. Many have expected Kubiak, who has a 36-43 record in five seasons, to be let go despite receiving a contract extension after the 2009 season, but that might not be the case.
Kubiak vowed Wednesday that he plans to coach in the NFL for years to come, despite the speculation.
"I'm going to do this for a long time," he said. "I'm a good coach, I've got a lot to give. I know it's part of the business, and when you get yourself into the position I'm in as a head coach, those are things you've got to deal with. So I will deal with them the right way, and I will come out of them a better coach.
"I understand that's part of the deal. Is it tough? You bet."
Kubiak received strong endorsements from Bum Phillips and Pastorini. Kubiak was a ball boy for the Oilers when Phillips was the coach and Pastorini was playing in the late 1970s.
"You're not going to get any better coach than him," Phillips said. "If you can get your team to practice like these kids practiced, the last week of the season, with nothing to look forward to, then believe me, he's got control of the team. He's always been a good coach. You're not going to get any better than Gary Kubiak."
Pastorini said the Texans have to make "a few tweaks" during the offseason, but they seem to be on the right track under Kubiak.
"I think he's a good coach, I think the players love him and respect him," Pastorini said. "I know a lot of people are calling for his head. But I, for one, believe in him. I think he can turn it around. I don't think there's a lot of shaking up needed."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.