Rams' Wade Phillips and Aqib Talib: An odd couple with unbreakable bond

Who will win Super Bowl LIII? (1:39)

John Fox, Field Yates and Damien Woody make their picks for Super Bowl LIII between the Rams and Patriots. (1:39)

ATLANTA -- Wade Phillips is the Los Angeles Rams' 71-year-old defensive coordinator who, after arriving in Atlanta, descended the steps of the team charter plane wearing a cowboy hat and a shearling coat, an ode to his late father and legendary coach, Bum Phillips.

Aqib Talib is the Rams' 32-year-old lockdown cornerback who disembarked the same plane in a blue Rams track suit, accessorized by his signature diamond-encrusted gold chains.

Together, Phillips and Talib might appear to be an odd couple. But they have an unbreakable bond.

"You're close to a lot of your players," said Phillips, who has coached in the NFL for 41 seasons, "but I'm really close to Aqib."

"He's probably going to go down as one of the best D-coordinators ever to coach football," Talib said. "And just to have that relationship with him, it means a lot to me too."

Three years ago, Talib starred in Phillips' defense with the Denver Broncos. They clinched the AFC title with a victory over the New England Patriots, then defeated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

In one of Phillips' fondest memories from that playoff run, Talib placed a gold chain around Phillips' neck during media night and told the white-haired coach, who is old enough to be his grandfather, that he was "drippin'."

"I didn't know what that was," Phillips said, as he recalled the moment. Drippin', for the uninitiated, means you're really cool and possess some swag. Phillips caught on quickly and soon proclaimed that he was "Drippin' baby ... really drippin'."

There's a possibility that Phillips might be drippin' again soon.

"I started buying all that," Phillips said, referring to gold chains. "I'll get it out when we get to the Super Bowl."

The Super Bowl is Sunday, and the Rams will play five-time NFL champion Tom Brady and the Patriots at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS).

Phillips and Talib hope to add another ring to their collection -- and another memory to their relationship.

"It's wonderful, man," Talib said. "It's what I had in mind, you know what I'm saying?"

Over the offseason, the Broncos needed to clear salary-cap space and initially agreed to trade Talib, who spent four seasons in Denver, to the San Francisco 49ers. But the 11th-year pro refused to travel to San Francisco for a physical to finalize the deal. Talib had no interest in acquainting himself with a new coaching staff and learning a new system. He wanted to play in a familiar 3-4 scheme. And he wanted to reunite with Phillips.

"That really means a lot to you as a coach," Phillips said. "That somebody would like to play for you. Or at least does to me."

So the Broncos sent Talib, along with the remainder of his contract (two years, worth $19 million), to the Rams, in exchange for a fifth-round pick. The pair instantly reconnected.

"Coach Wade knows that Aqib know what he wants from him," Rams safety John Johnson said, "so I just think he goes about work every day not really trying to please him, but they’ve been together, so they know what to expect of each other and you can tell they are just real comfortable with each other. ... Don’t take this the wrong way, but he could probably replace Wade. That’s how close they are. He understands his philosophy better than anyone I’ve seen."

This season, Talib, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, started three games opposite of Marcus Peters before Talib suffered an ankle injury that required surgery and sent him to the injured reserve for eight weeks.

The Rams were 7-1 in Talib's absence, but the All-Pro corner provided a much-needed veteran presence when he returned in Week 13, as the Rams prepared for their playoff run.

Talib recorded a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception in eight regular-season games.

In the playoffs, he helped slow Amari Cooper in a divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys, then kept Michael Thomas in check in a victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game.

During Super Bowl media night on Monday, Talib and Phillips starred in a team-produced video, reminiscent of their drippin' scene from Super Bowl 50.

Talib interviewed Phillips and asked his coach, "I just want to know, like coach, when you really, really figured that you like, got this defensive coordinator stuff under control, like you really could be good at this?"

Phillips responded: "Well, I've been poppin' since my demo, baby."

Again, for those not in the know, those are lyrics by the rapper Future, from his latest hit, "Rocket Ship."

Phillips, known to be up to date on pop culture, also recently confirmed Drake remains among his favorite rappers. During the 2015 season playoff run, Phillips infamously quoted the lyrics, "Started from the bottom, now we're here."

It's all part of what makes Phillips relatable, a trait he inherited from his father, Bum. Phillips' personable humor plays a part in keeping his guys' attention in meetings and on the field. But what players, including Talib, respect most of all is his ability to coach.

"He is just a great coach who puts guys in position to do what they do best," Talib said. "He don't try to be nobody who he's not. He don't try to be a tough coach, holler at you and yell; he just be himself and he's super smart. ...

"To go to the Super Bowl first year with him, man, it's special. It just shows me the reason why I wanted to come play for him."

Phillips won't soon forget that Talib played a crucial role in helping him to his first Super Bowl victory. And it could just be that Talib also will help him secure a second ring.

To Phillips, those rings are, of course, important.

"But the friendship part," Phillips said, "has been really special to me."