Coaches

Mike Phair
Defensive Line
College:
Arizona State
Hometown:
Mesa, Ariz.
Experience:
14

Phair begins his first season with the Colts as the team’s defensive line coach. He has 13 years of coaching experience, including seven seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Chicago Bears (2011-13) and Seattle Seahawks (2008-2010). He also spent six seasons as a scout in Seattle (2005-07) and Tampa Bay (2002-04).

 

Phair spent the last three years (2015-17) on the coaching staff at the University of Illinois. He served as the run game coordinator/defensive line coach the last two seasons after originally joining the Illini as co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach in 2015.

 

In 2017, Illinois played (22) and started (16) the most true-freshmen in the nation. Phair helped with the development of true freshman defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree who played in all 12 games (nine starts) and finished with 50 tackles (28 solo), 4.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, three passes defensed and one forced fumble. Roundtree led all Illini defensive linemen in tackles and tied for the team lead in sacks en route to being named to the BTN.com All-Freshman Team. He became the first Illini true freshman defensive end to start the season opener since Terry Cole in 1980 vs. Northwestern.

 

Phair was also tasked with helping senior James Crawford, a former safety and linebacker, transition to defensive line. Crawford garnered All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition (coaches) after leading the team with 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, four quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries while also tallying 26 tackles (16 solo) and four passes defensed. His average of 0.33 forced fumbles per game led the Big Ten and ranked seventh in the Football Bowl Subdivision at the end of the regular season.

 

In 2016, the Illini were 10th in the nation in team tackles for loss per game (7.9) thanks in large part to the defensive line. Phair received strong contributions from senior defensive ends Carroll Phillips and Dawuane Smoot. Phillips was named Illinois’ first All-Big Ten first-team selection in five years after finishing the regular season ranked seventh in the nation in tackles for loss per game (1.7). Smoot, who was selected in the third round (68th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, added 15.0 tackles for loss as they combined for the second-most tackles for loss between teammates in the Big Ten. Phillips went on to be teammates with Smoot in Jacksonville as he spent the entire season on the Jaguars’ active roster and practice squad. Phair also coached graduate transfer Gimel President, who came from Auburn, to his best season with 40 tackles (19 solo), 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. President spent the 2017 season on the Houston Texans’ active roster and practice squad.

 

In his first season in Champaign in 2015, Phair served as the co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach. He guided the most improved defense in the NCAA in total defense (-105.6) from 2014 and the sixth-most improved in scoring defense (-10.7). Vital to the improvement was All-Big Ten honorable mention defensive linemen Smoot and Jihad Ward, who was selected in the second round (44th overall) by the Oakland Raiders in the 2016 NFL Draft. Defensive back Clayton Fejedelem led the Big Ten with 140 tackles (74 solo) and was tabbed an All-Big Ten second-team honoree (media) and All-Big Ten honorable mention selection (coaches). Fejedelem was selected in the seventh round (245th overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2016 NFL Draft.

 

Prior to Illinois, Phair spent the 2014 season as assistant defensive line coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He helped coach a Buccaneers group that tallied 33.0 sacks, tied for the fourth most by any defensive line in the NFL in 2014. The Buccaneers defensive line accounted for 91.7 percent of the team’s total sacks – second highest in the league. He coached defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was selected to the Pro Bowl after recording 8.5 sacks, which ranked tied for third among defensive tackles in the NFL.

 

Phair joined the Buccaneers following three seasons with the Chicago Bears (2011-13) as the defensive line coach. While with the Bears, Phair coached Pro Bowlers Julius Peppers (2011 – 11.0 sacks, 2012 – 11.5 sacks) and Henry Melton (2012). His 2012 defense led the NFL with 44 takeaways.

 

Before joining Chicago, Phair spent six seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He served as defensive assistant coach (2010), assistant defensive line coach (2009) and assistant linebackers coach (2008) after spending three years as an area scout (2005-07) for the West region. In 2010, Phair worked with defensive ends Chris Clemons (11.0 sacks) and Raheem Brock (9.0 sacks). Phair was with the team during its 2005 NFC Championship season.

 

In his first stint with Buccaneers (2002-04), Phair served as an area scout, including working with the staff during the 2002 Super Bowl XXVII championship season.

 

Prior to entering the NFL, Phair served as linebackers/special teams coach at Tiffin (Ohio) University in 2001. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant (1999-2000) at his alma mater, Arizona State, working with the defensive line and coaching Terrell Suggs, who earned All-America honors.

 

Phair played collegiately at Arizona State (1990-92), earning a starting spot at linebacker after joining the team as a walk-on. He began his collegiate playing career with Mesa Community College (1988-89), where he was an all-conference linebacker.

 

Phair earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology at Arizona State in 1994 and a master’s in secondary education curriculum and instruction from ASU in 2000.

 

Phair and his wife, Jen, have four children, Parker, Coleman, Maisy and Ava. They reside in Zionsville.

 

Coaching Career

1999-2000       Arizona State                          Graduate Assistant/Defensive Line

2001                Tiffin (Ohio) University            Linebackers/Special Teams Coach

2002-2004       Tampa Bay Buccaneers         Area Scout (Southwest/West)

2005-2007       Seattle Seahawks                   Area Scout (West)

2008                Seattle Seahawks                   Assistant Linebackers

2009                Seattle Seahawks                   Assistant Defensive Line

2010                Seattle Seahawks                   Defensive Assistant

2011-2013       Chicago Bears                        Defensive Line

2014                Tampa Bay Buccaneers         Assistant Defensive Line

2015                Illinois                                      Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line

2016-2017       Illinois                                      Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line

2018                Indianapolis Colts                   Defensive Line

 

Phair begins his first season with the Colts as the team’s defensive line coach. He has 13 years of coaching experience, including seven seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014), Chicago Bears (2011-13) and Seattle Seahawks (2008-2010). He also spent six seasons as a scout in Seattle (2005-07) and Tampa Bay (2002-04).

 

Phair spent the last three years (2015-17) on the coaching staff at the University of Illinois. He served as the run game coordinator/defensive line coach the last two seasons after originally joining the Illini as co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach in 2015.

 

In 2017, Illinois played (22) and started (16) the most true-freshmen in the nation. Phair helped with the development of true freshman defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree who played in all 12 games (nine starts) and finished with 50 tackles (28 solo), 4.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, three passes defensed and one forced fumble. Roundtree led all Illini defensive linemen in tackles and tied for the team lead in sacks en route to being named to the BTN.com All-Freshman Team. He became the first Illini true freshman defensive end to start the season opener since Terry Cole in 1980 vs. Northwestern.

 

Phair was also tasked with helping senior James Crawford, a former safety and linebacker, transition to defensive line. Crawford garnered All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition (coaches) after leading the team with 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, four quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries while also tallying 26 tackles (16 solo) and four passes defensed. His average of 0.33 forced fumbles per game led the Big Ten and ranked seventh in the Football Bowl Subdivision at the end of the regular season.

 

In 2016, the Illini were 10th in the nation in team tackles for loss per game (7.9) thanks in large part to the defensive line. Phair received strong contributions from senior defensive ends Carroll Phillips and Dawuane Smoot. Phillips was named Illinois’ first All-Big Ten first-team selection in five years after finishing the regular season ranked seventh in the nation in tackles for loss per game (1.7). Smoot, who was selected in the third round (68th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, added 15.0 tackles for loss as they combined for the second-most tackles for loss between teammates in the Big Ten. Phillips went on to be teammates with Smoot in Jacksonville as he spent the entire season on the Jaguars’ active roster and practice squad. Phair also coached graduate transfer Gimel President, who came from Auburn, to his best season with 40 tackles (19 solo), 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. President spent the 2017 season on the Houston Texans’ active roster and practice squad.

 

In his first season in Champaign in 2015, Phair served as the co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach. He guided the most improved defense in the NCAA in total defense (-105.6) from 2014 and the sixth-most improved in scoring defense (-10.7). Vital to the improvement was All-Big Ten honorable mention defensive linemen Smoot and Jihad Ward, who was selected in the second round (44th overall) by the Oakland Raiders in the 2016 NFL Draft. Defensive back Clayton Fejedelem led the Big Ten with 140 tackles (74 solo) and was tabbed an All-Big Ten second-team honoree (media) and All-Big Ten honorable mention selection (coaches). Fejedelem was selected in the seventh round (245th overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2016 NFL Draft.

 

Prior to Illinois, Phair spent the 2014 season as assistant defensive line coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He helped coach a Buccaneers group that tallied 33.0 sacks, tied for the fourth most by any defensive line in the NFL in 2014. The Buccaneers defensive line accounted for 91.7 percent of the team’s total sacks – second highest in the league. He coached defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was selected to the Pro Bowl after recording 8.5 sacks, which ranked tied for third among defensive tackles in the NFL.

 

Phair joined the Buccaneers following three seasons with the Chicago Bears (2011-13) as the defensive line coach. While with the Bears, Phair coached Pro Bowlers Julius Peppers (2011 – 11.0 sacks, 2012 – 11.5 sacks) and Henry Melton (2012). His 2012 defense led the NFL with 44 takeaways.

 

Before joining Chicago, Phair spent six seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He served as defensive assistant coach (2010), assistant defensive line coach (2009) and assistant linebackers coach (2008) after spending three years as an area scout (2005-07) for the West region. In 2010, Phair worked with defensive ends Chris Clemons (11.0 sacks) and Raheem Brock (9.0 sacks). Phair was with the team during its 2005 NFC Championship season.

 

In his first stint with Buccaneers (2002-04), Phair served as an area scout, including working with the staff during the 2002 Super Bowl XXVII championship season.

 

Prior to entering the NFL, Phair served as linebackers/special teams coach at Tiffin (Ohio) University in 2001. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant (1999-2000) at his alma mater, Arizona State, working with the defensive line and coaching Terrell Suggs, who earned All-America honors.

 

Phair played collegiately at Arizona State (1990-92), earning a starting spot at linebacker after joining the team as a walk-on. He began his collegiate playing career with Mesa Community College (1988-89), where he was an all-conference linebacker.

 

Phair earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology at Arizona State in 1994 and a master’s in secondary education curriculum and instruction from ASU in 2000.

 

Phair and his wife, Jen, have four children, Parker, Coleman, Maisy and Ava. They reside in Zionsville.

 

Coaching Career

1999-2000       Arizona State                          Graduate Assistant/Defensive Line

2001                Tiffin (Ohio) University            Linebackers/Special Teams Coach

2002-2004       Tampa Bay Buccaneers         Area Scout (Southwest/West)

2005-2007       Seattle Seahawks                   Area Scout (West)

2008                Seattle Seahawks                   Assistant Linebackers

2009                Seattle Seahawks                   Assistant Defensive Line

2010                Seattle Seahawks                   Defensive Assistant

2011-2013       Chicago Bears                        Defensive Line

2014                Tampa Bay Buccaneers         Assistant Defensive Line

2015                Illinois                                      Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line

2016-2017       Illinois                                      Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line

2018                Indianapolis Colts                   Defensive Line