The injury bug has hit the Houston Texans hard this season and now apparently that bad luck has extended to the coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has announced he will be taking a medical leave of absence from the team for "a couple of weeks" and is expected to miss two games.
Make no mistake, this is a huge loss for the Texans. All Phillips has done during his first year in Houston is take a laughably bad defense that finished 2010 allowing 373.6 yards per game (30th in the NFL) and turn it into the league's top defense. The Texans are currently allowing just 274.9 yards per game, which is tops in the NFL, and are also surrendering just 16.0 points per game, which ranks fourth.
Phillips came on board this offseason and radically changed everything the Texans were doing. He switched Houston from a 4-3 to a 3-4 set, a move many people questioned because of the team's personnel. But it has worked so well that Houston hasn't even missed star linebacker Mario Williams who is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
While he was a disaster as a head coach, Phillips has always been a phenomenal defensive mind. His play-calling has never been questioned and this season he has taken a Texans defense that was dead-last in passing yards allowed in 2010 (267.5 yards per game) and remade it into a stout unit that is giving up just 183.5 yards per game (third in the NFL).
It is truly remarkable what Phillips has done with Houston's defense and it is one of the most underrated story lines of the 2011 NFL season. His temporary departure could also be a major distraction for a Texans team that has won seven-straight games.
In his absence, linebackers coach Reggie Herring will call the defense.
There is no word on what exactly is wrong with Phillips' health but hopefully for the Texans he is not gone too long.