Wade Phillips keeps going back, showing his defense over and over again what the Baltimore Ravens are going to run — and how the Texans are set to take it apart.
As Phillips plays relaxed film-room Yoda — sometimes his flip-flop covered feet are up on a table, other times he's just cracking jokes between play clips — the Bulls On Parade grow more and more sure. They're not just going to beat the Baltimore Ravens for the first time. They're going to destroy them.
"That's just how Wade is," safety Glover Quin says in describing the defensive meeting room scene. "He's all chill like that."
"From watching them on film we knew exactly what they were going to do. And we knew that if we executed our gameplan we would stop them."
He's a little cold-blooded too. For while everyone else in the NFL raves about the new Joe Flacco and these big-play Ravens, the Texans defensive coordinator points out attack point after attack point to his Bulls. He might as well be putting a baby in front of a pit bull.
"From watching them on film we knew exactly what they were going to do," Quin says. "And we knew that if we executed our gameplan we would stop them.
"They were going to try and put us in some one-on-one matchups and it was up to us to win those."
Forget mission accomplished. This is Mission Perfected. By the time the sun is shining down on Reliant Stadium early Sunday evening — the roof is opened after the game — Wade's Warriors have a 43-13 romp in the books, their fourth win by at least 20 points already this season.
"We really haven't played many close games," Phillips says. "We've been pretty dominant in these wins."
The dominance starts in those meeting rooms with a 65-year-old wizard who keeps drawing up imaginative schemes that make his younger peers look as out of date as a Blackberry. On Connor Barwin's breakout safety sack — the one that sends the Texans off and rolling on a 29-0 run — Phillips flips Barwin and linebacker Brooks Reed around and about, leaves the Ravens offensive line so flabbergasted that no one accounts for Barwin at all.
He flies in and flattens Flacco while going completely untouched.
"I wouldn't mind it," Phillips says of becoming a head coach again. "Those opportunities don't come along very often though."
"I've got to give the credit to Wade," Barwin says.
The New England Patriots (4-3) need a Mark Sanchez fumble to survive at home. The Texans . . . well, they just need Wade.
It cannot be long now before another team in the NFL realizes just what a difference maker Phillips is and decides to give him their head coaching job, age be damned.
"I wouldn't mind it," Phillips says of becoming a head coach again. "Those opportunities don't come along very often though. I've been a head coach for five different teams. I think I'm the only one who's done that."
When someone jokes that still leaves 27 NFL franchises to choose from, Phillips laughs. "I guess I do have some left."
It's no laughing matter for the Texans future. Opportunities like the one this franchise finds itself in now don't come along very often. And not just because Houston is 6-1, two games clear of every other team in the AFC for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with this tiebreaker-securing romp of the Ravens.
Because having Phillips and Gary Kubiak together isn't guaranteed to last. Wade will tell you that he doesn't expect to get another head coaching shot that "I'm happy where I am" if that's how it turns out.
But really, how long can the rest of the NFL be this dumb? Jerry Jones doesn't run every team. Someone's going to court Son of Bum again before too long.
And Phillips sounds ready to start landing strategic haymakers against the fools who question his head coaching ability.
"Evidently I don’t do as well as a head coach," Phillips says, not hiding his sly smile. “Although my record (82-59 career) is a lot better than a lot of people think it is.
". . . Now, it's true I didn't win a lot of playoff games. But I was in the playoffs a lot."
As Phillips talks in the middle of the Texans locker room, he holds a small business bag filled with papers. The image of Wade walking right out of Reliant and into a new head coaching life someday, taking all those keys to defensive success with him, springs to mind.
Yes, Phillips turned away from Tampa Bay late last season when the Bucs came calling so soon after the surgery to remove that benign tumor, the one that left him coaching from the press box. But that can't possibly be Phillips' last caller.
You bet the Texans had better treasure this season and all the wonders Phillips defense is unleashing.
There are dominatrixes who deliver less punishment than this Texans defense. The Bulls On Parade don't just hit quarterbacks — though some of the shots Barwin and Antonio Smith deliver to Flacco are roadrunner kill worthy. When on, they unnerve quarterbacks to the point where the man under center's psyche starts unraveling like a ball of string.
The Bulls On Parade don't just hit QBs. When on, they unnerve them to the point where the man under center's psyche starts unraveling like a ball of string.
That's how a guy like Flacco ends up with a 4.2 quarterback rating for the first half, arguably his most important half of the season.
"The first goal is to stop the run," defensive end J.J. Watt says. "The next goal is to get after the passer and frustrate and fluster him."
How's this for a fluster line?
Eleven passes batted by Texans hands, two interceptions, a safety, a defensive touchdown and four sacks.
The Watt Swats have become such a rage with this team that even the defensive backs are getting into the mix, sticking their hands up into the air even when the ball's not heading to the receiver they're covering, wreaking more havoc in the passing lanes.
Quin gets two of his three pass defenses this way, reaching back for the ball when he's seemingly not in the play. Throwing against the Texans is getting to be like trying to navigate I-45 at rush hour. There simply aren't any openings.
When asked if he should be nicknamed Glover Swat now, Quin laughs.
"Nah, no Glover Swat," he says. "Just call me GQ."
And call this defense, the Igniters. It all starts on this side of the ball for these Texans. Everyone saw what happens when the Bulls don't parade last Sunday night against Green Bay. The offense sags too. Everyone loses a little bit of their mojo.
This is what J.J. Watt screams at the defense as they gather in a circle on the field before the game. In weeks past, Brian Cushing would be leading the verbal charge. But No. 99 knows that Cushing's loss requires even more of him, that the level of his own play demands he be a leader.
This is just another game to these Texans like a wedding is just another day to the bride. Texans coach Gary Kubiak can talk about one game at a time all he wants, but are you kidding? This is Baltimore, this is one of those teams that seems like it's been an AFC bully for longer than the Texans have been in existence, the team that knocked Wade's Warriors out of the playoffs last season.
You bet it's personal.
"We wanted to show we can dominate against a good opponent," Quin says. "I don't think anyone thought we'd get a win quite like this.
"I don't think the media expected us to hold the Ravens down like this."
Watt's Party Bus
Forget the media. The Texans own owner couldn't envision a win this dominant. Bob McNair always expects the best from his Texans, but who expects to obliterate the Ravens by 30?
"I think the way we shut down their offense was remarkable," McNair says.
How this for a fluster line? Eleven passes batted by Texans hands, two interceptions, a safety, a defensive touchdown and four sacks.
Baltimore's offense comes into the game leading the NFL in plays of 20 or more yards. Flacco, Ray Rice and friends rack up 34 of those plays in the first six games of the season. Against the Texans? They get none.
Flacco's longest completion covers 15 yards. Rice's longest run goes for 17 yards. And that happens on the Ravens' first offensive series of the game, arguably their last good offensive series of the day.
Everything Phillips shows on film comes true. Even the increased double teams on Watt, who goes without a sack for the first time all season and still dictates the game.
"I didn't like to see that so much," Watt says of the doubles. "But it's great when everybody's in on the party."
Barwin, Smith, Quin . .. er GQ, Johnathan Joseph, even rookie Whitney Mercilus, they're all in it. Led by a gray-haired dude with a clicker who sees the weaknesses others think are hidden.
Phillips always believes his Bulls are going to dominate. Now, the rest of the league is catching on too. And it can't be long before someone's eyes settle on him.
He's earned another shot. And the Texans have earned this season.