Mario landed in good spot, Phillips says
By Bucky Gleason
Wade Phillips was so comfortable in Buffalo during his six-year tenure as defensive coordinator and head coach that his phone number was listed in the local directory. Phillips bled Houston but fit here with his small-town attitude and dry wit. And he's convinced Mario Williams landed in the right place.
Phillips still has fond memories of Buffalo and has returned many times to visit old friends. He was the defensive coordinator last year in Houston and built a good relationship with Williams, who signed a monster deal with the Bills.
"It's easy to like it there, as far as the people are concerned," Phillips said by telephone. "It's a small-town atmosphere. That part of it, he'll like. You get to know people, and there are a lot of good people to know."
Phillips coached Williams for only five games — "four games and nine plays," he said — and watched him record five sacks before tearing his pectoral. Phillips knew he had a good one based on attitude alone after telling the defensive end he was switching to linebacker.
"It tells you what kind of guy he is," Phillips said. "He'll be successful doing whatever he does because he can rush the passer. He's the right kind of guy. You can't go wrong with a guy like that. He'll do all the right things, work hard and do all the things you ask him to do."
Say what you want about Phillips, whose loyalty to former special teams coach Ronnie Jones turned the 2000 season into a fiasco and ultimately cost him his job in Buffalo. If staying true to a friend is the worst thing that you can say about him, he's lived a good life.
Phillips for years has been one of the better defensive minds in the NFL. He had a 29-19 record in Buffalo during his three-year stint as the head coach. He believes Williams will have a major impact on the defense and views him as a key missing piece that separated the Bills from the postseason in recent years.
"I think he'll help y'all make the playoffs for the first time since, um, I don't know, who was there the last time y'all made the playoffs?" Phillips said.
That would be Wade Phillips.