HOUSTON — Miami Dolphins third-year pass rusher Jaelan Phillips doesn’t have a piece of paper in a desk drawer listing a sack goal or any other personal record he wants to set to prove to the world that he has improved.
He just has a picture — in his head — of George Fant in 2021.
And since the George Fant of today didn’t dominate him nearly as much as the George Fant of 2021, Phillips knows he’s a better player.
Miami Dolphins Practice Report: Jaelan Phillips To Make Year 3 Jump?
Phillips and Fant — then a left tackle for the New York Jets — met just once in 2021 despite sharing a division.
It was in Week 11 of the 2021 season. And based on the box score, Phillips played quite well. He had three tackles, including one for loss, a sack, and two quarterback hits.
Most pass rushers wouldn’t complain about such an outing — particularly two years after the fact.
Phillips isn’t concerned with what most pass rushers think.
Which is why he was so looking forward to getting another crack at Fant this week, at least in joint practices with the Texans, if not Saturday’s preseason game.
Jaelan Phillips with an excellent answer on his improvement pic.twitter.com/6gRPJrn4sW
— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) August 17, 2023
“I just think my confidence as a pass rusher has increased a lot,” Phillips said here Thursday. “Obviously, every down, but especially as a pass rusher.”
“This week, I was going against George Fant,” he added. “I faced George Fant my rookie year when he played for the Jets, and I had no answers for him at all. That boy was doing me all game.
“This week, I felt a lot more competitive against him. So little things like that. I’m big on the process and not being result-oriented. I’ve been putting in the work for the last three years, and for it to show a little bit, it means a lot to me. I just continue to try to get better every day and do my thing.”
If you’re already a Phillips Year 3 buyer, this is just another data point that will convince you that you’ve made the right purchase.
When head coach Mike McDaniel was asked this week what about Phillips’ skill set would present challenges for an opposing play-caller, he replied, “Blocking him.”
Few have been able to this summer, regardless of what uniform they wear — Dolphins, Falcons, or Texans.
“Jaelan is a talented guy that has worked and worked and worked, and he’s starting to see the fruits of his work really bear fruition,” McDaniel added. “He’s always been an impactful player, and he has a special whistle-to-whistle motor that — with his athleticism — he’s been able to make some plays on NFL game days and really be a big part of this team.
“I think he has taken a step this year in being what he wants to be thus far. It is not a complete journey, but at this point, I think he feels a lot more in control of his own game and able to make plays in a multitude of ways with still having that motor and that relentless approach to give offenses fits in the fourth quarter.”
So yeah, the Phillips hype train has left the station, and it’s not coming back.
On a team loaded with stars on defense, Phillips has a chance to shine the brightest. There’s a real chance he matches his career sack total (15.5) this year alone — even if it’s not a stat he’s particularly concerned about.
“I try not to put an exact number out there because, honestly, success isn’t determined just based on numbers, especially not just based on sack numbers,” he said.
“For me, what I deem successful is me going out there and being productive and making plays for my team. Whatever that looks like, if it’s a bunch of run stops in a game with no sacks, I’m just as happy as if it was three sacks. That’s kind of how I look at it.”
Miami Dolphins News and Notes
A few quick takeaways from Miami’s final joint practice with Houston:
- Christian Wilkins isn’t the only Dolphins starter the team is apparently trying to protect. Austin Jackson didn’t do much (if anything) in team drills Thursday, and the Dolphins wanted to keep Tyreek Hill out of action too, but he ignored their suggestions.
- Among the list of Dolphins players who did not practice Thursday: DBs Jalen Ramsey, Keion Crossen, Brandon Jones, and Justin Bethel; RBs Myles Gaskin and Alec Ingold; and WRs Jaylen Waddle and Braylon Sanders.
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