Home Miami dolphins Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips emerges in rookie season

Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips emerges in rookie season

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When NBC’s chief NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth sat down to watch a tape of former Miami Hurricanes star Jaelan Phillips ahead of the NFL Draft, he wasn’t just impressed. He was upset.

“By the time you got to the second half of his final season, you were like, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy is going to wreak havoc in the NFL,'” said Collinsworth. “He plays with violence, he has multiple movements, he has rotational movements… He’s one of the best athletes…. I’ll be dumbfounded if this guy doesn’t just become a good player, [but] an NFL star. I thought he was the best defensive player in this draft.

On Sunday, Phillips provided visual evidence that Collinsworth’s assessment could end up validating.

Phillips’ three-sack blowout against Carolina was only one game, but she continued on a growing trend for the 18th pick overall.

“He had a game for the ages,” said NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. “He was rushing all over the field. He gets stolen, he gets passed ”and still had the quarterback. “His spin … was almost bag # 4.”

Phillips opened his press briefing on Monday thanking his teammates for helping set up those three sacks.

“Without them it would not have been possible,” he said. “The first sack, Duke Riley and Christian Wilkins knocked out Cam Newton. The next sack, Zach Sieler took out PJ Walker, then the next one, ‘Gink’ [Andrew Van Ginkel] helped him move it into the pocket. Give the DBs a lot of credit for giving us time to reach the quarterback and the other D linemen for being pressured to make this happen.

Beyond three sacks, Phillips suffered seven pressures from the quarterback in 24 rushing opportunities Sunday.

For the season, he’s now tied for 21st in the league with 6.5 sacks, second among rookies behind Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons’ nine sacks. He is 32nd among all NFL edge players in terms of pressures, with 31, par Focus on professional football.

“I’m trying to improve 1% every day… by working on my hands, technique and different things throughout this year,” said Phillips. “I think now it’s just starting to pay off, just the work we’ve been doing consistently throughout the year. “

PFF ranks him fifth among the top 110 players as a race defender, so growth is needed there.

The Dolphins – who upgraded him from defensive end (his main job at MU) to linebacker – only knocked him down in passing cover 36 times all season; the two passes thrown in his coverage area were caught, for 16 yards.

But even with his sack count now at an impressive number for a rookie, “I’m not happy at all. I know I have so much more in me. Same [Sunday], I could have had more. This league is very process-oriented so you can’t go out of your way and worry about the weeks ahead and worry about the numbers and how everyone is doing in the league.

“You just have to focus on yourself. We say cut your own weed. Don’t worry about your neighbor’s backyard. I know this is just the start.

Phillips – who has five tackles to lose in addition to 6.5 sacks – received advice and encouragement from three people outside the building: Todd Stroud, his former defensive line coach at MU; David Feeley, strength and conditioning coach for the Hurricanes; and Ben Newman, who trained mental conditioning in Alabama.

“Coach Stroud, Coach Feeley, I literally text them every week before every game,” Phillips said. “Ben Newman is a guy I spoke with recently. He’s kind of like a coach in terms of building confidence and things like that. I think I have a great group around me that really encouraged me.

Phillips also cited Dolphins director of player engagement Kaleb Thornhill as “a guy I’m extremely close to.” He was great and encouraged me, just reminding me to stay process-oriented.

Among the top rookies selected in the first round, Phillips – who has played 12 games and started four – is now the No.1 in sacks, ahead of the five top players selected after him: the Colts’ Kwity Paye (three sacks in 10 starts), Peyton Turner of New Orleans (one sack; only five games), former UM star Greg Rousseau (three sacks in 11 starts for Buffalo), Odafe Oweh of Baltimore (five sacks in 11 games and one start) and Bay’s Tampa Joe Tryon, who has three sacks in 11 games and three starts.

Parsons, selected 12th overall by Dallas, plays a defensive end and linebacker, some on the rim and others on the inside.

Phillips “gets better every week,” said coach Brian Flores. “He’s here early. He stays late. He does a good job of meeting, walking, training, playing hard and is selfless in many ways.

There was universal praise for Phillips among draft analysts in April, with ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. noting “he’s the best natural rusher in this draft with his length, his explosiveness, his anticipation of the snap.” When he goes around that edge, he has the turn. He would be a much higher choice if it hadn’t been for a sustainability issue “after multiple concussions at UCLA.

Sunday offered the clearest sign of the possibilities yet, and proof that the player billed as the draft’s most qualified passer could potentially meet all of those expectations.

Here is my Monday post with news from Brian Flores’ press conference.

Here is my Monday update on the University of Miami athletic director search.

This story was originally published November 29, 2021 4:00 p.m.

Barry Jackson has been writing for the Miami Herald since 1986 and columnist for Florida Sports Buzz since 2002.


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