Buffalo Bills Choose Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips To Succeed Marv Levy As Head CoachBy BUCKY GLEASON

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) _ Wade Phillips succeeded Marv Levy as coach of the Buffalo Bills on Monday and made it clear this team has a long road back to the Super Bowl.

``People remember the Super Bowls,'' Phillips said. ``This isn't a Super Bowl team. We have a big job to do, and we know that.''

Phillips, the defensive coordinator under Levy, was the only person interviewed for the job, which was offered within 24 hours of his meeting with team owner Ralph Wilson last Friday.

Sources said Phillips signed a four-year deal averaging between $750,000 and $800,000 a season.

He follows the most successful coach in team history. Levy, who guided the Bills to four consecutive appearances _ and losses _ in the Super Bowl, retired Wednesday with a 123-78 record in 11-plus seasons.

``Certainly, I'm not Marv Levy,'' Phillips said. ``I'm going to be my own man. There are going to be some changes. We're going to keep the first-class attitude and a lot of things that Marv started here.''

The Bills have their work before them if they are to return to their glory days. Buffalo finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs for the second time in four years.

Phillips immediately made linebackers coach Ted Cottrell his defensive coordinator. The two worked closely together for three years and built the Bills' defense into one of the NFL's best.

A search started for an offensive coordinator to replace Dan Henning, who was with the Bills for one season. Buffalo's offense was largely blamed for the poor record. The defense was credited for the victories and keeping the score close in the losses.

That left Phillips the top candidate for Levy's job.

``The choice was very obvious,'' Bills general manager John Butler said. ``Wade met all the qualifications. I remember (thinking) that this is the guy to replace a great coach. I believe we have another one coming.''

Phillips has been a favorite of Buffalo players. Defensive end Bruce Smith and running back Thurman Thomas, among others, have said they respect Phillips for his calm demeanor and knowledge of the game.

``The fact that Marv Levy retired was devastating,'' Smith said. ``Nobody was prepared for it. The best thing this organization could have done is hire Wade Phillips as head coach and Ted Cottrell as defensive coordinator.''

Buffalo has promised to be active in free agency in hopes of turning around the franchise. It has the ninth pick in the NFL draft in April.

Phillips was 16-16 in two seasons in Denver before being fired. He spent 22 years in the NFL since being hired by his father, Bum Phillips, with the Houston Oilers in 1976.

``I am not the coach that will sit back and delegate,'' Phillips said. ``I will delegate duties, but I'm going to be involved in the offense, special teams and defense. Part of my strength is coaching, and I want to continue to do that. I want my imprint on this team.''

The other assistants under Levy who were not retained were offensive line coach Tom Bresnahan, tight ends coach Don Lawrence, defensive backs coach Dick Roach and defensive line coach Dan Sekanovich.

Those staying are wide receivers coach Charlie Joiner, special teams coach Bruce DeHaven, assistant linebackers coach Chuck Lester and strength and conditioning coach Rusty Jones.

``Guys that fit with Marv Levy certainly aren't a natural fit with me,'' Phillips said. ``They were great coaches for Marv. I'm starting anew. This is a new era.''