CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Change follows disappointment. The Broncos will almost certainly make adjustments on their coaching staff after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Will the realignment go beyond the personnel on the struggling offense? Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' contract expires after this season. The Broncos value continuity and Phillips' acumen, but they also believe in the significant contributions made by Phillips' assistants, according to multiple NFL sources.
Broncos' head coach Gary Kubiak, who said his desire to continue coach has not changed following his health scare earlier this year, talked briefly about Phillips' situation after Friday's practice.
"It's not uncommon. You have some of these guys coaching-wise whose contracts are up, and not everybody is always on the same cycle. But we think the world of Wade, and everybody knows the job Wade has done," Kubiak said. "Those are things that will be addressed after we get through this week. Wade is a tremendous person, tremendous football coach."
Regarding his own situation, Kubiak told Denver7, "I love this league. I love the Broncos. I love the work. I am all in on the Raiders right now, so there will be time for reflection next week."
Phillips, 69, has no plans to retire. However, the Broncos must reach an accord with the fan and media favorite to retain Phillips. Phillips signed a two-year deal in 2015 after the team unsuccessfully attempted to hire Vance Joseph from the Cincinnati Bengals. Joseph landed in Miami this year as the Dolphins defensive coordinator.
Under Phillips' watch, the Broncos produced one of the most impressive playoff runs in NFL history. The Broncos allowed just 44 points in three games, and limited Carolina to 194 yards in Denver's Super Bowl 50 win. Von Miller's strip sack of Cam Newton recovered in the end zone by Malik Jackson triggered the upset.
The Broncos' pass defense remained stout this season, leading the NFL with 187.2 yards allowed. Aqib Talib and Chris Harris rank among the league's top corners. Denver ranks sixth in overall yards per game, first in fewest yards per play and sixth in points per contest (19.4).
However, the Broncos' rush defense nosedived. After permitting 83.6 yards per game last season, the Broncos have yielded 135.2 this season, 29th in the NFL. And only Cleveland has allowed more points on first possessions this year.
"Getting behind early has really hurt us," Phillips said.
Despite his nearly five-decade age difference, Phillips connects with his players. He formed a strong bond with the defenders through conversations and similar interests. He delighted players when after the AFC Championship he quoted rapper Drake, saying "I started from the bottom and now I am here." He also showed up this spring with the song "Big Rings" on his iPod.
USA Today raised the issue of Phillips' future on Friday. The Broncos have a strong staff, including defensive back coach Joe Woods, a rising star in the industry, and veterans Fred Pagac, Reggie Herring and Bill Kollar.
Defensive end Derek Wolfe (neck), safety T.J. Ward (concussion) and tight end A.J. Derby (concussion) were ruled out of Sunday's game. Linebacker Brandon Marshall (left hamstring) is listed as questionable, but it would be a surprise if he plays. It could lead to some reps for Quentin Gause.