With Emmanuel Ogbah out of Sunday’s lineup with a back injury, the Miami Dolphins defense needed someone to step up and make plays in the front seven when it mattered most.
Several players on Miami’s defensive line stepped up with Ogbah unable to play, including Andrew Van Ginkel, Melvin Ingram, Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis, and Ben Stille, to name a few. However, none made more of an impact (IMO) than outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips.
“Well, I think the great thing is we have a lot of depth, and so even though Ogbah is down, we have guys who can come in and basically take that spot right away,” Phillips said on Thursday.
“So having ‘Gink’ (Andrew Van Ginkel) having more of a third-down, more of a pass-rushing opportunity, Melvin (Ingram), myself. I think that’s kind of the great thing about our defense, is pretty much everybody has the next-man-up mentality, and everybody is ready to play whenever their number is called.”
Jaelan Phillips had another impressive performance in Week 7:— Ryan Smith (@PFF_RyanSmith) October 24, 2022
- 87.5 overall grade
- Team-leading 7 pressures and 6 defensive stops
His 90.1 overall grade the last 4 weeks trails only Myles Garrett at the edge defender position
(Photo cred: @MiamiDolphins)#FinsUp pic.twitter.com/kk5lIGH9Zt
Phillips recorded eight tackles (four solo) in Sunday’s 16-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. And yes, he added 1.5 sacks on Sunday, doubling his season total to three. The 23-year-old pass-rusher has now recorded a sack in three of his last four games.
He also chased Kenny Pickett down on a critical third-down play that was as impressive as any play you’ll see all year. But it wasn’t the eight tackles or the sacks that were most eye-popping.
“shut up eyebrows, you ain’t even practicing.” -jaelan phillips https://t.co/RC6CccnAUV— josh houtz (@houtz) October 25, 2022
It was how Phillips dug deep from within and gutted it out late in the fourth quarter when Miami needed it most.
It was the way he constantly gave it 100 on every rep, playing 80% of Miami’s snaps (60) — 26 of those came in the fourth quarter alone. He won with power. He won with speed, and again, he showed the world that he’s one of the league’s best up-and-coming EDGE players in football.
Heading into the year, Phillips spoke about how important it was for him to take his game to the next level, becoming a well-rounded EDGE defender in all areas. That meant becoming more involved in the run game. More specifically, Phillips had to do a better job at setting the EDGE.
“I’m really critical of myself and I have a lot of high aspirations and I want to do everything I can to help the team and so for me, not being able to come in every single down to help the team, that’s something where I took it on myself where I’m going to work on this. So the sacks were nice, but ultimately it’s more than just sacks. It’s more than just production. It’s about how you fit into the defense and what are you doing to contribute to the team as a whole.”
“I’m just trying to be the most well-rounded player that I can be, so whatever roles that the coaches see fit for me, I can fit those roles accordingly.”
Jaelan Phillips was the best player on the field against the Steelers. He was simply doing it all. Chased down ball carriers all night with his unreal motor. Was really good in the run game, and consistently won his pass rush opportunities. This was his best game as a pro. pic.twitter.com/GMVMhXBOxq— Finscentral (@finscentral) October 25, 2022
After seven games, Phillips ranks 5th on ESPN among all defenders in run-stop win rate, something that makes Miami’s third-year linebacker very happy.
“Yeah, that definitely makes me happy because that’s really the main thing in the offseason that I was talking about and really trying to work on, and so I think I can continue to work on it. But I’m definitely proud of myself and happy that I’ve made some strides in the run game.”
While some fans early in the year were down on Phillips, wondering where the sacks were. The truth of the matter is he’s been playing exceptionally well. That was no different on Sunday when the defense needed their play-making
pass rusher EDGE defender to step up, and Phillips rose to the occasion.
Here’s a look at Jaelan Phillips vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.
.@miamidolphins EDGE @jjphillips15 was a menace on sunday recording 1.5 sacks and 8 total tackles in a 16-10 win over the steelers.— josh houtz (@houtz) October 25, 2022
phillips played 60 defensive snaps (80%), with nearly half of them coming in the 4th quarter. he finished with a @pff grade of 87.5. #finsup pic.twitter.com/8eazps7AeM
TLDR: Jaelan Phillips is starting to heat up, and his best football has yet to come.
What are your thoughts on Jaelan Phililps’ impressive performance vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers? Do you see noticeable growth in year two? When was the last time the Miami Dolphins had an EDGE rusher as talented as Phillps? Let us know in the comments section below!
[All Quotes are from MiamiDolphins.com]