Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen had little to say after his team finished with a 7-9 record.

On Thursday, Wade Phillips learned what that silence meant when Bowlen called him into his office and fired him.Phillips suspected it was coming. When the front office called and told him to hurry to Thursday's meeting, he said to himself, "What are they going to do, fire me if I'm late?"

Phillips, 47, lasted just two seasons as head coach of the Broncos. He was elevated from defensive coordinator to head coach on Jan. 25, 1993, when Dan Reeves was dismissed after 12 years as coach.

"I did the best I could," Phillips said. "It wasn't good enough for everybody, but it was good enough for me, and I can live with myself."

Bowlen said he lost confidence in the coaching staff.

"When I lost confidence I thought it imperative we terminate our relationship," he said.

Bowlen said he will ask the new head coach to interview current members of his staff, and said their contracts will be honored if they don't find other employment and aren't retained.

Phillips, the son of former NFL head coach Bum Phillips, led the Broncos to the playoffs as a wild card team with a 9-7 season in 1993, losing in the first round to the Los Angeles Raiders.

He entered the 1994 season with expectations of getting to the playoffs again, thanks to several expensive free-agent acquisitions during the offseason, including wide receiver Anthony Miller.

But the Broncos lost their first four games of the season, creating speculation that Phillips wouldn't be retained after the season was over.

The Broncos then won seven of their next nine games before losing their last three to drop out of contention for the playoffs.

Speculation on a new head coach immediately shifted to San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan, who turned down the position because of a disagreement over salary after Reeves left.