Jaelan Phillips’ Role Coming Into Focus in Dolphins’ Defense

Jaelan Phillips will be focused on getting after the quarterback.
Jaelan Phillips will be focused on getting after the quarterback. / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Dolphins first-round pick Jaelan Phillips is going to get to rush the passer in a variety of ways this season. 

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores explained that the team is using a hybrid scheme that could see Phillips playing in multiple positions in the 2021 season. 

“The way we structure the defense – it’s not a 4-3 where there’s just full-time defensive ends on the field at all times,” Flores said. “We have a little bit more of a hybrid scheme where (Phillips) could be up, he could be down, it could be four-down, it could be base, it could be in a few different fronts. I think that we feel like Jaelan Phillips can do a few different things. I think maybe some different things on early downs and some different things in some obvious passing situations.

“We wanted to just see him in those roles yesterday. I think that’s the goal for him, is to play a few different positions, but right now we’re just kind of checking to see where he’s comfortable and then as a staff we’ll talk about it and kind of review things and see where we want to use him during the regular season.”

Phillips is currently listed behind Andrew Van Ginkel and Brennan Scarlett on the team’s depth chart, but that is going to change as the Dolphins released Benardrick McKinney, who was listed as a starter, on Monday. 

Phillips was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he’s among the leaders in WynnBET’s odds to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Phillips is behind only Micah Parsons (+500) on the odds list at +650 odds. 

Last season at the University of Miami (Fla.), Phillips recorded eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss. He’s going to mainly be used as a pass rusher in Miami, and that’s a great sign for his odds to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, as the last two winners (Chase Young and Nick Bosa) were also edge rushers. 

The Dolphins have a strong defense, highlighted by Xavien Howard and Byron Jones in the secondary, which should give Phillips plenty of time to get after the quarterback. As long as he carves out a consistent role from Week 1 on, Phillips should be in the DROY race.

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