Jaelan Phillips: Sacks are nice, but ultimately it’s about contributing to the team

NFL: DEC 05 Giants at Dolphins
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Around this time last year, the Dolphins selected edge rusher Jaelan Phillips in the first round at No. 15 overall.

By many measures, Phillips’ rookie season was a success. He appeared in all 17 games, making five starts. He also had 8.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss, and 16 quarterback hits.

But Phillips wasn’t entirely pleased with his rookie year, in part because he wasn’t an every-down player — instead mainly being used in known-passing situations.

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,” Phillips said in a Wednesday press conference. “So for me, not being able to come in every single down and help the team, that’s something where I took it on myself, where I’m going to work on this.

“So, sacks were nice, but ultimately it’s more than just sacks, it’s more than just production. It’s about how you fit in on the defense and what are you doing to contribute to the team as a whole. And so, just constantly trying to better myself and improve the things I need to improve on.”

Reporters noted that Phillips has been wearing a “JWD” wristband, which stands for “just watch me.”

“[T]hat basically evokes an emotional response from me just kind of having a chip on my shoulder. So just reminding myself that I still have everything to prove to myself and haters,” Phillips said. “I think for me, it’s just a mindset thing. I think I’m just kind of taking pride in the fact that it’s almost like that chip on my shoulder, that ‘just watch me’ thing — people said I couldn’t play early downs? Alright, just watch me.

“So it’s just a mentality, having that dog mentality, having that fight to where every single snap, it’s me against him and who’s going to win? It’s damn sure not going to be him.”

Phillips was on the field for 54 percent of Miami’s defensive snaps in 2021. Though the Dolphins have a new head coach in Mike McDaniel, the team’s defense is slated to be the same with retained coordinator Josh Boyer. That should give Phillips a leg up in making a jump in production from Year One to Year Two.

4 responses to “Jaelan Phillips: Sacks are nice, but ultimately it’s about contributing to the team

  1. He struggled early last year when he was in. It wasn’t until after Flores took over the defense did he finally start producing.

  2. A vast majority of rookies struggle their first year but the good ones flash potential. Phillips flashed often during his rookie season and showed signs of being a top defensive end/ linebacker in the league. I believe he will take a giant step forward going into his second season and be the havoc QB hunter the Dolphins have been lacking since the Cameron Wake days.

  3. Anyone else realize the JWD doesn’t seem like it means “just watch me”, that would be JWM right?

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