PHOENIX—The Dolphins spent a second-round pick on Jordan Phillips thinking he’d develop into a starting-caliber defensive tackle, and it’s time for him to live up to that.
As Miami stands now, Ndamukong Suh and Phillips are the clear options at defensive tackle. For Phillips to be worthy of his spot, he needs to continue some of what he showed late last season. That started with being more aware of what his teammates were doing and less preoccupied with doing what he wanted.
“We feel like the talent is there and he’s doing a lot of things the right way,” coach Adam Gase said. “We thought last year at the end of the year he was doing things the right way and we were headed in the right direction.”
More specifically, there was better adherence to the scheme.
“He was aware that it wasn’t necessarily just about him making a play,” Gase said of Phillips. “It was more about, ‘I have to do my job because my job affects the guy next to me and the guys behind me.’ Sometimes you forget that as a defensive tackle.”
Gase went on to explain that Suh is the epitome of that mindset, and the Dolphins want Phillips to learn that from him.
Suh, according to Gase, does his exact job “99.9 percent of the time” and in the rare instances I which he breaks from the scheme, Miami can count on him actually making the play. Mostly, though, Suh shows an exceptional grasp of what everyone around him is depending on him to do.
“I think Jordan started to realize that toward the end of the year,” Gase said. “‘Hey, it’s not just about me trying to make a play. I have to understand the guy next to me and the guys behind me.’ That’s what defensive tackles do: They bail out other guys to make plays. That’s why they’re almost forgotten soldiers on the field. No one gives them enough credit for helping other guys make plays.”
Phillips, 24, had 23 tackles, a half-sack and one interception in 16 games last season. He started 11 times and played 54 percent of the defensive snaps overall.
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