By Will Brinson
The Texans remarkable defensive turnaround in 2011 has a lot of people talking about Wade Phillips and how he deserves another head coaching chance. Unfortunately, people are talking about Phillips on Wednesday for a different reason, as Texans defensive coordinator will miss the next few weeks for as he undergoes surgery for what the team describes a kidney condition.
According to the Texans, Phillips "will take a medical leave of absence due to a scheduled surgical procedure later this week." Houston's press release also states that Phillips "is expected to return later this season."
"It's not life-threatening," Phillips said Wednesday. "There's no chemotherapy involved ... I don't want to get into it. It's not a vasectomy, in case you wondered."
The Texans made ridiculous strides defensively this season, going from the league's worst defense in 2010 to a top-five unit in 2011. Rightfully so, Philips gets most of the credit for that success.
"We're playing good defense all over," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said recently. "Of course it feels good, to be able to get out there and stop some people. You're definitely not worried about people scoring on you because you know everybody is being accountable. Everybody's holding up their end and knowing what they're supposed to do, so you're comfortable when you're out there."
There's no mention of what type of surgical procedure Phillips will have, but the timing of this is surprising to say the least -- the Texans clinched the playoffs last week and welcome the Panthers to Houston Sunday for their first of three remaining games.
Linebackers coach Reggie Herring will take over the defense while Phillips is gone.
"This is a system," Herring said Wednesday. "I've been raised under Wade Phillips for the last 4 years. "I feel very confident about this. We have a lot of things to finish. We have a lot to play for."
"We've got to make sure Wade's health comes first and get this taken care of so we can move forward," Kubiak told Panthers reporters on a conference call Wednesday morning.
For as much as the Texans have been through in 2011 -- losing Mario Williams, dealing with an Arian Foster injury, dealing with an Andre Johnson injury, losing Matt Schaub and then Matt Leinart, for starters -- having Phillips sidelined might be the most debilitating loss of them all. He's been critical in turning around the Texans defense in 2011 and if there was an award for top assistant in the NFL, a sure-fire lock to win.
Hopefully he'll be healthy when the playoffs role around.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.