Hit and miss: Which Jordan Phillips are the Dolphins getting in 2018?

Jordan Phillips has a bg opportunity in a contract year. Getty Images)

There’s been very little questioning of Jordan Phillips’ talent, but his actual performance has been up and down since the Dolphins drafted him in the second round in 2015. They expected more from a player selected No. 52 overall, but it’s been difficult to predict what he’ll give them throughout his career.

Phillips has been open about some of his struggles at times, vowing to change, and it appears as though he’s going into this season ready to back that up. He’s in shape as the Dolphins begin training camp and he’s got his biggest opportunity yet now that Ndamukong Suh is gone.

“So far, through two days, he’s done a good job,” coach Adam Gase said. “When you’re a bigger guy like he is, the way that we’re running the football, it’s one thing to do it in the spring, but now that the temperature is slightly up, when you’re a big guy like that and you’re running as much as he is, it’s fatiguing but he’s doing a good job of embracing it because it’s gonna help him get in really good shape.

He’s listed at 6-foot-6, 341 pounds, but those weights aren’t updated regularly and he looked slimmer than usual when he arrived for training camp this week.

The Dolphins felt good about where Phillips was near the end of the preseason last year, battling back up the depth chart after falling behind fifth-round pick Davon Godchaux.

Health was an issue, however, and Phillips missed three games after getting hurt in the season opener. He ended up starting 11 games and posted 16 tackles, including two sacks. Pro Football Focus rated him the No. 71 defensive tackle in the league.

Phillips did not reach a deal for an extension this offseason and will likely hit unrestricted free agency in the spring. He’ll play for about $1.4 million this season in the final year of his rookie contract.

He appears to be healthy again going into this season, which is spurring optimism within the Dolphins. They’ve been working Phillips and newcomer Akeem Spence as the starting defensive tackles the last two days, with Godchaux pushing for a spot as well.

“Athletically, he does some things that you just don’t see many people be able to do,” Gase said. “For a guy that size, the way he moves — his athleticism is really off the charts.”

[The Post’s exclusive images from the first two days of training camp]

[Five Miami Dolphins problems Adam Gase needs to solve in training camp]

[With a chance to make Dolphins roster, rookie LB Mike McCray retires before training camp]

[Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake philosophizes on what it takes to be elite]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Miami Dolphins DT Jordan Phillips wants to be elite. How close is he?

Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips.

(Note: This continues a series in Daily Dolphin spotlighting members of the team individually. In addition to reliving highlights and lowlights of the past season for each, we’ll provide analysis and criticism, plus take a look at how each player fits — or doesn’t fit — into the team’s plans for 2018.)

DT Jordan Phillips

Height, weight: 6-6, 341

College: Oklahoma

Age: Will turn 26 early this season

Experience: Fourth NFL season, all with Dolphins

Acquired: Drafted in second round in 2015

Contract: Due to earn $1.3 million in final year of rookie contract; unrestricted free agent after this season

Pro Football Focus rank: 74th out of 122

In 2017

Stats: Started 11 of 13 games played; had 16 tackles, two sacks and three passes defensed

Notable moments: Had two tackles, one sack and one pass defensed vs. Broncos

Straight talk: Phillips says he wants to be a great player.

He says he wants to be elite.

Let’s look at the numbers and see if they’re trending in that direction, shall we?

We’ll begin by looking at the three interior linemen on the AFC Pro Bowl roster last year. Because if you want to be elite, you should compare yourself to them.

Geno Atkins of the Bengals had 46 tackles and nine sacks.

Jurrell Casey of the Titans had 41 tackles, six sacks and a forced fumble.

Malik Jackson of the Jaguars had 40 tackles, eight sacks, three passes defensed and four forced fumbles.

Reminder from above: Phillips had 16 tackles (a career low), two sacks and three passes defensed.

“I felt like I accomplished what I was trying to do,” Phillips said. “I had a better year, still wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but showed improvement and that’s all you can ask for.”

Is it, really?

Maybe that average of 1.2 tackles per game seems low. Actually, for Phillips, it’s exactly that: average. In 44 career games, he has made 58 tackles, or 1.3 per game. He has never forced nor recovered a fumble. He has never made more than four tackles in a game.

This, while playing next to Ndamukong Suh, who allegedly was attracting the attention of offensive coordinators.

While we’re on the subject of numbers, let’s go back one year. Curiously, coach Adam Gase didn’t want to get into the subject of Phillips’ weight at the time, but Phillips did. He said he was trying to get down to 320 pounds after playing the 2017 season at 336.

His weight last spring: 335.

Phillips’ weight this spring: 341. (Perhaps the Dolphins decided that dropping weight wasn’t in his best interest. Perhaps they didn’t.)

At least last offseason, Phillips admitted he’d shown a “hot and cold motor” to that point. He recognized the need to be consistent. Coaches seemed to figure out which buttons to push with him and often pointed to his physical gifts and the gut feeling he was turning the corner. Gase said Phillips can be unblockable at times.

Such optimism wasn’t unfounded. Last season, Phillips had two good performances against the Patriots and one against the Broncos. He had an 8-yard sack of Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick that should have given the Dolphins a safety (the NFL later admitted the officials goofed).

But you know the rest. Too often, Phillips hasn’t been as visible and has displayed a curious attitude, such as saying “go ask the coaches” why he was relegated to backup duty last preseason, as if he were clueless and powerless about it. This offseason, when asked if he expected to see more snaps now that Suh is gone, he said, “I couldn’t tell you,” Phillips said.  “I mean if that’s the message you guys got, then roll with it, I guess.”

Prospects for 2018

There are reasons to think there’s a good chance Phillips will start alongside Davon Godchaux at defensive tackle. A contract year is one. The flashes he showed late last season are others.

But Phillips will have to earn it, and if coaches sense his motor is running cold, they have options. Akeem Spence saw ample first-team duty in the spring. He started 11 games for the Lions last season. And he had better numbers: 39 tackles, three and one forced fumble.

This will be a position to watch this preseason.

***

Photos: Live from Miami Dolphins OTAs in Davie

Don’t be so fast to typecast Miami Dolphins’ Jakeem Grant as only a track guy in cleats

Will changing dynamics of Miami Dolphins receivers be a jolt for DeVante Parker’s career?

Miami Dolphins’ fortunes revolve around Ryan Tannehill’s knee, putting heat on ‘new person’ Laremy Tunsil

Miami Dolphins DT Jordan Phillips wants to be elite. How close is he?

Miami Dolphins’ T.J. McDonald could benefit from ‘stress-free’ training camp

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Ndamukong Suh leaves lasting impression on Miami Dolphins’ young DTs

Vincent Taylor is among those who will miss Ndamukong Suh. (AP)

DAVIE — Former Dolphins star Ndamukong Suh has a reputation for being surly and aloof, but multiple Miami players have said that wasn’t their experience with him.

Defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, who spent his rookie year in Suh’s corner of the locker room, called him an ideal mentor and an excellent teammate.

“I was learning from him,” Taylor said this week. “Last year I played some snaps when he came out, so this year hopefully I can bring those numbers up… Replacing him will be hard.

“It was good coming in my first year to be able to learn from a guy like Ndamukong Suh. What more could you ask for? People always ask me how was Suh in the locker room. Suh was a great teammate, a great guy. I think he’s like a big kid. He likes to joke. Suh is a great guy.”

Suh was with the Dolphins for three seasons before they released him in March to get out of a scheduled $26.1 million salary cap hit for this year.

The move was part of a philosophical overhaul of the defensive line. The Dolphins have now allocated the bulk of their money in defensive ends and will proceed with much cheaper defensive tackles in Davon Godchaux, Jordan Phillips, Akeem Spence and Taylor.

Taylor and Godchaux came in as late-round draft picks a year ago and quickly found Suh to be a willing teacher. Godchaux described him as a “great mentor” who spent lots of time working with him after practices, and Taylor echoed that.

“It’s hard losing a guy like Suh just knowing what he’s capable of doing, but at the end of the day, it’s a business decision,” he said. “All of the things when I was coming in, what he taught me — I learned some of the things that he taught me. Like I said, it’s hard losing a guy like him.”

[Which undrafted rookies have impressed Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke so far?]

[Who wins a race between Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant and Kenny Stills?]

[Marjory Stoneman Douglas football team visits Dolphins practice]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

2018 NFL free agents: Dolphins host defensive tackle Terrell McClain

McClain with the Cowboys in 2015. (Getty Images)

As the Dolphins try to stitch together their defensive line following the release of superstar Ndamukong Suh this offseason, they’re hosting a veteran defensive tackle at the team facility in Davie today.

Miami is in talks with Terrell McClain, a journeyman who was let go by Washington after the draft. McClain, 28, signed a four-year deal with the Redskins a little over a year ago, but slipped on the depth chart and fell out of their future plans for good when the they drafted Da’Ron Payne last week.

McClain, 6-foot-2, 302 pounds, is looking for his sixth team since entering the league as a third-round pick with the Panthers in 2011, and the Dolphins are on the lookout for a backup defensive tackle. That could be a match.

Last year, he played 12 games but started just twice. He registered 20 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Pro Football Focus ranked him the 120th-best player at his position.

The Dolphins are a little over two weeks away from Organized Team Activities and appear to be pushing forward with Davon Godchaux and Jordan Phillips as their starting defensive tackles. They also have Vincent Taylor and Gabe Wright as backups, plus they added former Lions defensive tackle Akeem Spence in a trade Wednesday.

[Miami Dolphins’ 2018 salary cap spending shows their priorities]

[Takeaways from the Yahoo! Sports scouting series on the Dolphins]

[Parkland-Douglas football team makes Miami Dolphins draft announcements]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook.

Cutting Ndamukong Suh hurts, but Dolphins never should’ve signed him

The Dolphins are done with Ndamukong Suh. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

Splashy free agent signings are fun. Really fun. But they aren’t always prudent.

The Dolphins got what they wanted out of Ndamukong Suh, who continued to be among the absolute elite defensive tackles in the NFL during his three seasons with the team, but from the start he was a luxury they couldn’t afford. They finally see that, and ESPN reported this morning they’ve made the painful decision to cut him.

It’s not as simple as letting him go and erasing the $76 million they would’ve been paying him over the next three seasons. Miami gets out of some of that, but it’s still going to cost about $9 million in salary cap space this season to send Suh packing.

That stings, but it’s worth it.

Not because Suh is any kind of problem, but because this isn’t how good teams typically allocate their money. One defensive tackle taking up a little over 14 percent of the total payroll forces a team to cut too many corners at other positions.

No single player on the Patriots last season, for example, ate up more than 8.6 percent of their cap space. For the champion Eagles, the high was 6.2 percent.

Think of the positions where the Dolphins struggled last year. Offensive line, linebacker and tight end immediately come to mind. They were in the bottom 11 in spending at each of those positions. Even with the brutal dead money left on Suh’s contract, there’s a newfound ability to address those deficiencies.

And as well as Suh played the last three years, he wasn’t enough to give the Dolphins the ferocious defensive line they imagined when they signed him for a staggering $114 million over six years in 2015.

They’ll try it a different way with cheaper defensive tackles in Davon Godchaux, Jordan Phillips and Vincent Taylor and high-priced ends in Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn and Andre Branch. They also have 2017 first-round pick Charles Harris.

The Dolphins had the third-most expensive defensive line in the league last season and finished 26th in sacks. The year before, they were No. 1 in price tag and 19th in sacks. Even with Suh mauling people in the middle and constantly drawing double- and triple-teams, the plan wasn’t working.

Nobody was afraid to stand in the pocket against Miami’s d-line last year. It’s the reason so many quarterbacks had their best performances of the season when they faced the Dolphins.

Miami averaged one sack every 19 dropbacks, which equates to once or twice a game. That backfield was cozy compared to what quarterbacks encountered against Jacksonville, which spent its d-line money far more effectively. The Jaguars had the second-priciest unit in the league, but delivered a sack every once every 10 opportunities.

The Dolphins’ inability to infiltrate the pocket was a huge reason they ranked near the bottom of the league in opponent passer rating (94.8) and completion percentage (64.2).

The Dolphins were also 28th, 30th and 14th in run defense in his three seasons.

It’s hard to say that’s Suh’s fault when every indication was that he’s been playing some of the best football of his career.

He had 4.5 sacks, 48 tackles, two forced fumbles and Pro Football Focus ranked him No. 4 at his position. He did everything he could for Miami, playing all 48 games and staying on the field for 88.2 percent of the defensive snaps over three years. He totaled 15.5 sacks and 181 tackles.

It just didn’t matter.

Regardless of how cool it is to have a marquee name like Suh or how excellent he’s been individually, it’s impossible to justify paying that much money for someone who isn’t making an overwhelming difference in the defense. It was an unwise signing at the time, and it would’ve been even more foolish to keep proceeding down this path.

[Possible replacements for Jarvis Landry in free agency, NFL Draft]

[What Jarvis Landry said after being traded to Cleveland]

[Miami Dolphins master the art of wasting their best draft picks]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Lieser: Production must match price tag for Dolphins’ defensive line in 2018

Charles Harris (90) is one cause for optimism in 2018. (Bill Ingram/The Post)

There’s nothing wrong with a team sinking a huge chunk of its payroll into a ferocious defensive line. That’s the biggest reason the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of the most surprising teams in the league this year, are playing in the second round of the playoffs Sunday.

The problem comes when a team makes that large of a financial commitment, sacrificing in other areas to do so, and gets a defensive line that’s just OK. That’s one of the biggest reasons the Dolphins are watching the postseason on television.

Miami dropped $36.2 million up front this year, representing 21 percent of its salary cap money, according to Spotrac’s database and finished 26th in the NFL in sacks. The other three teams that fell victim to being top-10 spenders and bottom-10 in sacks—the Giants, Buccaneers and Jets—are sitting home with a collective record of 13-35.

The team’s 30 sacks, 25.5 of which came from the defensive linemen, amounts to one for every 19 dropbacks. Jacksonville, meanwhile, got fantastic bang for its buck with second-highest sack total in the league at 55. In a game that’s pass-happier than ever, it was hard to get time to throw against the Jaguars, who were No. 1 in opponent passer rating, completion percentage and passing yardage.

In a relatively comfortable pocket, opposing quarterbacks put up staggering numbers against the Dolphins. While there were certainly other issues in the linebacker corps and secondary, management’s design was for the defensive line to make those units look better.

Instead, Miami ranked 28th in opponent passer rating (94.8), 26th in completion percentage allowed (64.2) and 19th in yards per pass attempt (7.2). The defense was also middle of the pack against the run.

The most expensive players on the Dolphins’ defensive line, Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, were their best.

Suh maintained his status as a top-tier defensive tackle, putting up 4.5 sacks, 48 tackles, two forced fumbles and played 83.8 percent of the defensive snaps. Pro Football Focus ranked him No. 4 at his position.

Wake delivered a second consecutive double-digit sack season with 10.5. His $7.5 million salary cap ranked 14th among defensive ends, and he finished 15th in the league in sacks. Like Suh, he played up to his contract.

The trouble for the Dolphins is those contracts are large and restrict their ability to spend money around them. Suh’s cap hit for 2018 is slated to be $26.1 million, second-highest in the league regardless of position, and Wake is due to cost $8.6 million.

Miami is also one season into a three-year $24 million contract for Andre Branch, who had a frustrating season because of injuries and managed 4.5 sacks. His cap hit goes from $5 million to $10 million next year, then the Dolphins have the option to pay $9 million in 2019 or get out of it for $2 million.

While the team can try to restructure Suh’s deal, it’s currently forecasted to spend $50.8 million on the d-line, or 30.4 percent of its cap. That doesn’t include pending free agent William Hayes, who would still be an attractive run stopper at 33 if he comes back healthy.

What the Dolphins desperately need is for Branch to bounce back in a big way and for their cheaper players to outperform their contracts. Defensive tackles Jordan Phillips ($1.4 million cap hit in 2018), Davon Godchaux ($605,000) and Vincent Taylor ($594,000), plus defensive end Charles Harris ($2.5 million) are still on their rookie contracts. Undrafted defensive end Cameron Malveaux played his way off the practice squad by the end of the year and could put himself in the rotation with a strong offseason.

Essentially, the only way to rectify Miami’s disparity between cost and production is for the same group to find a way to play better next season. That responsibility falls firstly on defensive coordinator Matt Burke, who is charged with developing Godchaux, Taylor and Harris. It’ll also make a big difference if Branch can get back to the level of play that earned him the new contract last year.

[Possible Dolphins 2018 NFL Draft target Baker Mayfield cleared for NFL Combine]

[What does Las Vegas think of the Dolphins’ chances in 2018?]

[Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry is headed to the Pro Bowl]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Dolphins DT Jordan Phillips believes he’s tracking toward ‘elite’ level

Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips made progress this year. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—The idea of Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips aspiring toward the distinction of being one of the elites at his position would’ve sounded absurd a year ago. Even he admits that wouldn’t have been believable.

But Phillips set out to change the book on him this season and made some headway. Starting late in the preseason, he showed Miami coaches he was serious about growing into a mainstay and fought off impressive rookie Davon Godchaux for the starting job. He fought through injuries and put together a satisfying year that showed promise heading toward next season.

“I felt like I accomplished what I was trying to do,” Phillips said. “I had a better year, still wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but showed improvement and that’s all you can ask for.”

Adam Gase and defensive coordinator both gave him good reviews late in the season, his third since Miami took him in the second round of the 2015 draft.

The first two years were marked by underachievement, which has been the story on Phillips dating back to his time at Oklahoma. He was determined to maintain his effort this season and grow into a true pro.

“It’s just disappointing the way that I came into the league,” he said. “I’m just trying to change the views from you guys’ perspective to everybody around. I want to be a great player. I want to be an elite player. I’m gonna keep doing what I’ve gotta do to get there.”

Phillips had 16 tackles, two sacks and five quarterback hits this year. He missed three games, but played at least 48 percent of the defensive snaps eight times.

The upcoming season will be the last on his rookie deal, setting him up to reach an extension with the Dolphins this offseason or hit unrestricted free agency in March 2019. Phillips didn’t say whether he intends to pursue an extension.

He carries a modest $1.4 million salary cap hit for next season, which is good for Miami considering Ndamukong Suh is currently set to count for $26.1 million.

[Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return from knee injury at forefront of Dolphins’ minds]

[Miami Dolphins find a hidden giant in offensive lineman Jesse Davis]

[Longtime tight end Anthony Fasano weighs his NFL future]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Dolphins’ defense finally gets the chance to play the way it was built to play

MIAMI GARDENS – Tom Brady looked flustered on Monday night. Sometimes he looks hurried or angry, even in games that New England wins, but rarely is he flustered.

The Miami Dolphins’ defensive front made that happen in this 27-20 upset of the defending Super Bowl champions, pushing through the Patriots’ offensive line like a rising tide and forcing from the future Hall of Famer so many antsy and inaccurate throws that Brady ended up with a tawdry 59.5 quarterback rating, his worst in four years.

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (93) puts pressure on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during the second half of the game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Monday December 11, 2017. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

“The guys that we have up front, we should run the show,” said defensive end Cameron Wake. “That’s the way it should be.”

[RELATED: Exclusive photos from the Dolphins’ huge MNF win over the Patriots]

But it hasn’t been, or at least not often enough, which is something coach Adam Gase takes personally. He’s in charge of the Miami offense, and his unit hasn’t been in charge of much of anything on the way to a 6-7 record.

More than once Gase has said this his defense was built to play with the lead, because that’s when Wake and Ndamukong Suh and Andre Branch and Jordan Phillips can do what they were born to do, which is to breathe fire into a quarterback’s face, and to earn all those big salaries in doing so.

Think of Monday’s 0-for-11 failure on third down by the Patriots. That doesn’t happen without Brady being chased and pushed and prodded into an uncharacteristic 24-of-43 passing night. Xavien Howard’s two interceptions don’t happen, either, without Brady unloading the ball under duress and throwing it toward covered receivers instead of taking the usual, casual check-down targets that commonly are available to him.

“I think there were less screen passes in there and stuff like that,” Brady said. “Ideally you’d like to spread it around to everybody. We just got behind and that’s not really the way we wanted to play the game. It was just a bad loss.”

Not bad enough to ruin the Patriots’ season of course, but it did delay their clinching of the AFC East title for at least another week. Meanwhile, Miami maintains slim hope of a wild-card playoff spot way out there somewhere with a trip to snowy Buffalo coming up next.

That won’t be fun, but rattling Nathan Peterman ought to be easy in comparison to throwing Brady off his game. A Miami defense built to play with the lead needs only to get some help from Jay Cutler, who threw three touchdowns against New England and got the Dolphins out in front by 17 points with a quarter to play.

“I never really pay attention to sacks,” Gase said in last week’s run-up to New England. “I always look at pass disruptions. How many times are you hitting the quarterback? How many times are you putting pressure on the quarterback where he has to move off the spot and he has to get rid of the ball sooner than he wants to?”

Well, let’s see. On Monday night Brady threw it 43 times and he must have been bothered by the pass rush, what, at least 30 times. Mixed in there were sacks by Suh and Jordan Phillips and hurries by just about everybody, from Suh to Cam Wake to rookie Davon Godchaux, who right around the two-minute warning got so aggressive that he was flagged for roughing the passer.

Remember New England’s last, best chance to mount a comeback? The Patriots got it all the way to the Miami 1-yard line on a 23-yard pass to Danny Amendola with 1:24 to play. All Brady wanted to do was get the ball in the end zone as quickly as possible from there, cutting deep into Miami’s 10-point lead and stopping the clock right there.

Instead there was a series of five incompletions, with veteran tackle Nate Solder getting caught holding against Wake, and both Wake and linebacker Lawrence Timmons taking turns knocking Brady down just as the ball came out of his hands. Before long the Patriots were backing up, taking a field goal instead of a touchdown, looking to an on-side kick as their salvation. That didn’t go their way, either, and so the Patriots, who crushed Miami 35-17 a couple of weeks ago, are 10-3 and headed home grumpy.

Would it have made a difference having Rob Gronkowski in the New England lineup instead of serving a one-game suspension? Sure, but not enough to reverse the kind of momentum Miami’s pass rushers had going, a burst of energy that was unleashed by the rare pleasure of having a big lead.

Complimentary football, that’s what Gase always calls it, and when it happens, when the offense helps the defense and the special teams pitch in, too, it’s a lot easier to write a complimentary column.

There’s no trouble here, for instance, calling Monday’s win the most impressive for Miami since that 20-17 comeback at Atlanta on Oct. 15.

There were plenty of games like that in 2016, when the Dolphins surged to 10-6 and a playoff spot. It was a 30-15 win over Pittsburgh that turned things around, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing a couple of picks and getting sacked by Wake and Branch and generally not looking at all like himself. No wonder, with Miami building a 23-8 lead through three quarters, a sure signal that the Steelers would be passing all the time and the Dolphins’ pass rush would be crashing all the time.

Every now and then, in other words, Miami looks every bit the equal of the best teams in the league. It’s why the 2017 TV schedule featured so many prime-time games, and why the Dolphins’ dismal performance on national telecasts has been such a disappointment.

Maybe there’s a little more fun left in this season after all, as long as the Dolphins’ defense plays like it was built to play. Gase said it again on Monday night – “It really starts with our front.”

Officials blew call by not crediting Miami Dolphins’ Jordan Phillips with a safety, source says

Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (97) tackles Tampa Bay QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone but did not get credit for a safety. End Cameron Wake (91) made sure Fitzpatrick didn’t escape. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

Yes, it was a safety.

Officials blew the call when Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips was not credited for a safety when he sacked Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday.

Tony Corrente’s officiating crew was incorrect in ruling that Fitzpatrick’s forward progress carried him out of the end zone before he was tackled by Phillips, a league source told The Post on Tuesday.

On a third-and-17 play from the Tampa Bay 8-yard line with 9:36 remaining, Fitzpatrick dropped to pass but was pushed backward by teammate Demar Dotson, a guard, which may have confused the officials. Because Fitzpatrick was hit by his own man, the play remained alive, with forward progress still to be determined. Phillips then took advantage by dragging Fitzpatrick down in the end zone.

Officials huddled and ruled Fitzpatrick down between the goal line and the 1-yard line, a call that was challenged by Dolphins coach Adam Gase.

Upon review, the call was allowed to stand, which, ironically, was the correct thing to do at that point. Here’s why: First, the league did not feel there was a clear camera shot taken from the goal line to prove where forward progress was at the time it was established on the field. Although the replay official may have felt it should have been ruled a safety, he had no power to call it that way despite knowing that Fitzpatrick initially was hit by his own man rather than being carried from the 1 back into the end zone by an opponent.

Boos rang out throughout Hard Rock Stadium. Many of the Dolphins were left scratching their heads, straddling the fence between objecting to the call but not doing so loudly enough to draw a rebuke from the league. Fans have bombarded message boards protesting the call.

“If you looked at the film, you tell me what you thought,” Phillips said.

What did Phillips think?

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Phillips said.

Gase: “I thought it was a safety.”

The Dolphins were down 20-13 at the time and it will long be debated whether those two points would have made a difference in the outcome (a 30-20 Tampa Bay victory).

The Dolphins scored a touchdown two possessions later for a 20-all tie, but the Bucs responded with a 58-yard drive for a field goal and a 23-20 lead. A meaningless touchdown occurred on the final play of the game when the Dolphins fumbled a desperation lateral on a kickoff return.

Adam Gase: Miami Dolphins’ 17 penalties are ridiculous!

The late Terry Glenn never played for the Dolphins, but he left a mark here anyway

Miami Dolphins’ best chance at magical turnaround is with Matt Moore, not Jay Cutler

Miami Dolphins: Was DeVante Parker at fault on two Sunday interceptions?

Jordan Phillips plays it safe on non-safety, but Adam Gase believes call was wrong

[Dolphins’ expensive defensive line not living up to price tag]

Miami Dolphins’ Jordan Phillips plays it safe on call, but Adam Gase thinks it was a safety

Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (97) tackles Tampa Bay QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone but did not get credit for a safety. End Cameron Wake (91) made sure Fitzpatrick didn’t escape. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Jordan Phillips might think the officials blew it. Phillips might think they should have called his sack a safety from the start. He might think they should have corrected their mistake when they had a chance after Adam Gase threw his challenge flag.

We say he “might” because Phillips took the diplomatic high road Monday when asked about what could have been a game-changing play in the fourth quarter of the Dolphins’ 30-20 loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday.

“If you looked at the film, you tell me what you thought,” Phillips said.

Plenty of onlookers thought that when the quarterback gets sacked in the end zone, that’s two points. But none of those witnesses was wearing black and white stripes.

So what did Phillips think?

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” Phillips said.

Here’s what Gase thinks: “I thought it was a safety.”

Gase said he wasn’t given an explanation for why it wasn’t.

“Nope, they didn’t talk to me very much,” Gase said. “They showed it on the replay and it looked like a safety to me; but it wasn’t, so (I’m) moving on.”

Loud boos serenaded the officials when, after a timeout for a review, Gase’s challenge was denied.

“The way that that kind of stuff’s been going with us all year, I’m not surprised at all,” Phillips said.

Asked if he meant calls were going against the Dolphins or luck was, Phillips said, “That’s all up for debate, I guess. But I’m not going to be the one to say anything about it.”

The play in question came with Tampa Bay up 20-13 with less than nine minutes remaining and the Bucs stuck in a third-and-18 hole from their own 7. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was dropped by Phillips in the end zone, but officials ruled that his forward progress extended outside the end zone and he was ruled down by contact on the 1.

Two offensive series later by the Dolphins, Matt Moore hit Kenny Stills for a 61-yard touchdown pass, but rather than holding a potential 22-20 lead with the safety mixed in, the Dolphins were tied 20-all. They then gave up a 58-yard drive for a 35-yard field goal and the deciding points with four seconds remaining.

Phillips, who ran a stunt from his tackle position on the play, credited end Andre Branch.

“Branch did a hell of a job on the right side,” Phillips said. “He bulled a guy all the way to the ground and that’s really what set up the play. Without that, the sack shouldn’t have happened, so most of the credit should go to him, honestly.”

[How close does Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry’s pace put him to single-season catch record?]

[Dolphins’ expensive defensive line not living up to price tag]

[Can Kenyan Drake be a consistent big hitter for the Dolphins?]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook