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Wade Phillips on Defending Rookie QBs: ‘We Wanna Give Him As Many Problems As We Can’

Since 2011, former NFL head coach and veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has an 11-4 record when facing rookie quarterbacks – so we asked him on last week’s 33rd Team Call to share some thoughts about the best ways to defend rookie QBs.

“It’s not just the quarterback, it’s the play caller,” said Phillips, noting that there’s not a lot of film that can be studied.

“The first thing I’ve always done is know the snap-count cadences,” said Phillips. “Because rookies don’t often vary the snap count. They get in a rhythm of calling it on the same (count). So we always chart that and see when they snap the ball.”

Phillips doesn’t want to give rookie quarterbacks anything easy, so he prefers man-to-man coverage. “I don’t want to give him any free access. I don’t want him to get in there, see zone and dump it off all the time. I want to make him be accurate and I think that’s the toughest thing there is, man-to-man coverage. It’s tough on the defense, but it’s also tough on the offense – especially a young quarterback.”

Phillips said defenses should test a young quarterback’s coverage recognition and certainly test his ability to handle pressure – if not with an all-out blitz at least with a consistent five-man rush.

“We wanna give him as many problems as we can, test him in a bunch of different ways.”

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