Miami Dolphins fans have incredibly high expectations for outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips heading into the 2023 season. And why shouldn't they? The 24-year-old pass-rusher started his career red hot, breaking the Dolphins' rookie record for sacks with 8.5. Phillips followed his record-breaking season up with 7 sacks, but he got better in every aspect of his game, finishing the season with 61 total tackles and a staggering 25 quarterback hits.
In year three, with new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio calling the shots, many believe Phillips is ready to break out and become one of the NFL's #elite pass-rushers. NFL.com writer Nick Shook agrees.
.@jjphillips15 was a monster on wild card weekend, recording 9 tackles (2 TFL), 7 QB pressures, 3 QB hits & a .5 sack. per @PFF, phillips finished the szn with a 90.1 pass-rush grade (4th), a 74.8 run grade (18th) & an overall grade of 88.8 (6th) among all EDGE defenders. #finsup pic.twitter.com/jpSp0KCZrX— josh houtz (@houtz) January 18, 2023
Late last week, Shook published an article breaking down the best offensive and defensive players in the NFL under 25. And only one Dolphins player was on the list. You guessed it, Jaelan Phillips.
Here's what Shook wrote about Phillips in his article:
“Phillips might fly a bit under the radar, but those who have had a chance to watch him play will likely agree with this choice. With 15.5 sacks in his first two NFL seasons, Phillips is already producing at a level worthy of his draft billing as a first-rounder in 2021. I expect to see him on a number of lists identifying breakout candidates entering 2023, and for good reason.”
At the time, many fans wanted Alabama running back Najee Harris or another pass-rusher when Miami was on the clock with the 18th overall pick. But after two seasons, I think many would agree the Dolphins did what was best for the team and landed an all-pro caliber player. Now, with Fangio in town, Phillips is poised to take his game to another level. Here's what he said in June when beat reporters asked what he was working on this offseason.
"I can't give that away now, can I? (laughter) You know the opposition watches these, too. No, I've just been continuing to hone in my craft and really trying to refine my moves so that I'm not just a jack of all trades, master of none. I'm trying to really lock in what my repertoire is."
"I want to get to a point where I'm impacting every game in any way possible. Just getting more comfortable and confident and continuously trying to grow with that."
Big things are coming for Jaelan Phillips, and I can't wait to see what kind of tricks Vic Fangio has up his sleeve.
(P.S. I think Jaylen Waddle could've been on this list as well as safety Jevon Holland, but I'm a homer.)
What are your thoughts on Jaelan Phillips heading into the 2023 NFL season? Do you think he will shine in Vic Fangio's defense? Will he get double-digit sacks this season? What other Dolphins players belong on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!