Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to take medical leave

December 14, 2011 3:56:17 PM PST
The Texans are taking their motto 'Next Man Up' to a whole new level.

The Texans have overcome adversity all season long to clinch their first ever playoff spot. Now it's defensive coordinator Wade Phillips who will miss a couple of games. Phillips though says he'll be back before the end of the regular season.

Wade Phillips showed his sense of humor as usual as he spoke to reporters after Wednesday's practice.

"Worst case is I die. That would be the worst case," said Phillips.

But any time you have an operation it's a serious matter.

"It's an operation, but I feel good. The doctors, they say they can handle everything and they don't foresee any problems and they see me getting back in a week to 10 days," Phillips said.

"The most important thing is Wade's health. That's where we're at right now. He needs to go get this done and the doctors feel very good about it, so we'll get it done in the morning. He needs to take care of his health and we need to take care of the football for him," said Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.

The 64-year-old Phillips will undergo two surgeries on Thursday -- he'll have his gall bladder removed and he'll have a procedure done to resolve a kidney condition.

Phillips plans to be back coaching on the sideline by the Texans regular season finale against the Titans at Reliant Stadium. Linebackers coach Reggie Herring will make the defensive calls while Phillips is out.

"We've tweaked a few things and we've done that this week as far as what we're doing and the team (Panthers) we're playing, certainly you've got to do that with the quarterback they have. But I expect everything to run smooth," said Phillips.

"This is a system. I've been raised under Wade Phillips for the last four years, I've studied him, we think a lot alike. At the end of the day, I'm not Wade Phillips, but it's Wade Phillips system," Herring said.

It seems like it's been one thing after another this season for the Texans to overcome, but that's what is making this season so special.

With Phillips out, linebackers coach Reggie Herring will call the defense starting this Sunday versus the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium.

The loss of their defensive mastermind comes just days after the franchise won its first-ever division title and clinched its first playoff berth. The team already has a franchise record 10 wins this season with three games remaining.

The Texans have achieved all that success despite being hit hard by injuries, hence the adoption of the phrase, 'Next Man Up.' Linebacker Mario Williams was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle, star WR Andre Johnson has played in parts of only five games due to hamstring injuries, and the team lost both starting QB Matt Schaub and second-string QB Matt Leinart to injuries, leaving rookie QB T.J. Yates as the team's starter. Guard Mike Brisiel had surgery Monday for a broken leg.

Phillips has led the Texans defense to the top ranking in the NFL. The defense is allowing 274.9 yards per game this season as compared to 376.9 in 2010. Houston's 102.0-yard-average improvement is the best since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Houston ranks fourth in rush defense and third in pass defense this season.

Herring has coached Phillips' linebackers from 2008-10 in Dallas, then re-joined the Texans this off season. Herring first coached with the Texans from 2002-03.

What could Phillips medical condition be?

So exactly what kind of surgery will Phillips have to go through? He made a point of saying he was not being treated for cancer, and that his condition was not life threatening. But doctors recommended that he have the procedure done now, so he will

He didn't say what the kidney condition is that is sidelining him for the next few games. The kidney excretes toxins from the body, and a Memorial Hermann urologist we talked to said there are several kidney problems that would need to be addressed immediately, and would take about a two week recovery: a kidney blockage that could be caused by infection, kidney stones, or just poor kidney function .

"If the kidney was obstructed for any reason, cause kidney function or fail, that would need to be addressed immediately. Because eventually the kidney will shut down -- one or both. Kidney stones, like we said, or a benign problem that causes kidney obstruction," said Dr. Tung Shu.

Again, we don't know exactly what Phillips will be treated for, but he made it clear in the news conference Wednesday that he doesn't want to be gone for long.

Texans fans unfazed by Phillips' leave

The news comes just days after the franchise won its first-ever division title and clinched its first playoff berth. We thought it might be a tough pill to swallow so we went to a few popular lunch time hangouts Wednesday afternoon to talk to fans.

With all the setbacks the Texans have faced this season, we thought Texans fans might be a little nervous. That was not the case at all. Wade Phillips said his surgical procedure to deal with a kidney issue was not a big deal. According to fans, neither is his upcoming medical leave from the team.

Fans we talked to sounded confident when they told me even though someone else will be making the calls while Phillips is out, his defensive packages will already be in play so they're not worried.

"He won't be there to make adjustments so it's still his defense there. And we've already clinched the division and when we get to the playoffs, we're a team that's overcome losing all of our star players and stuff and those are the teams that do well in the playoffs. Teams that succeed through adversity," said Ray Gates.

"He's pretty much the architect of our defense for the first part of the season and with him being gone I am kind of worried about how our (linebackers) coach is going to be the defensive coorinator," said Jason Sherman.

"We have our third sting quarterback and our defensive coordinator out. That's two strikes, but I think that they have been holding up pretty strong," Laura Rivers said.

"Reggie Herring had been with Coach Phillips in Dallas so he knows the system, he knows what plays to call. So I think the defense and the Texans, they are going to be alright this season," said Al Martinez.

Fans wish him the best tomorrow and are banking on a speedy recovery.

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest on this story.


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