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2019 player analysis: Jordan Phillips, Buffalo Bills defensive tackle

A look at Jordan Phillips’ 2019 season

We begin our year in review with defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Picked up in 2018 after the Miami Dolphins made the error of releasing him, Philips quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his energy. A very successful year and then some in a Buffalo Bills uniform has Phillips toward the top of most “get him back” lists. I don’t think I need to convince anyone he’s good, so we’ll stick more to why and how.

Play 1

First things first, very few players will be successful without an effective game plan and the Buffalo Bills know how to make an effective defensive game plan. Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver set this stunt up beautifully. Phillips gets the cleaner path but is still weaving around a lot of traffic. A nose for the ball ends the way the Bills drew it up, with the opposing quarterback on the turf.

Play 2

The Bills are in their pass rush package with Lorenzo Alexander as a defensive tackle and everyone aligned wider than usual. The play above is quite similar in that regard for the record. The Tennessee Titans double-team Alexander and leave Phillips and Shaq Lawson matched up one-on-one. Phillips gets his right arm on his man’s left shoulder and uses that advantage to walk back for the sack. The ability to peel off the block shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Play 3

This was used for a penalty cap as you likely guessed by seeing the BS meter at the end. I knew I wouldn’t be able to find a more perfect illustration of what I wanted to show so excuse the recycling. There was speculation on who would take over for Kyle Williams with many people assuming Harrison Phillips may step up. Jordan Phillips was not shy about thinking he could be the one. This ability to time the snap is very Kyle-esque. It’s also a major reason for Jordan Phillip’s success.

And in case you’re wondering, the Bills saw things Jordan’s way with J. Phillips mostly performing the penetrating tackle role. H. Phillips was being used behind Star Lotulelei instead.

Play 4

Here’s another one from the penalty recaps. When you live on the edge, sometimes it doesn’t go your way. There’ll be more to come when I do the penalty year in review work, but let’s just say Jordan Phillips had a few that didn’t go his way. You could further say perhaps that Phillips took over for Kyle in penalties and maybe Jerry Hughes as well.

Play 5

Last year I noted how efficient Jordan Phillips was defending passes from the defensive tackle position. Well he had zero credited this year so boy do I feel silly. It wasn’t for lack of trying however. Phillips showed a similar patience when as he always has on plays like this where it’s clear he won’t reach the quarterback directly. With his sack numbers up, it’s likely he was asked to do a little less hanging back which might account for the goose egg in this stat. There’s nothing on film that suggests he stopped being capable but there’s no way to spin this as a positive change.

Play 6

Back to the positives, one thing that does stand out is the relentless effort that Phillips brought to the field. The hand fighting is good but if we’re being honest there’s nothing here that screams “holy crap, would you look at that?” Solid technique and a high motor can take you places though.

Play 7

While there’s not a single thing I can point at to call Phillips “dominant,” it’s also true that there’s nothing I can point at to call “glaring weakness.” We’ve already seen good power, the ability to time the snap, solid hand technique and decent speed. Here we add a bit of agility and circle back to good play recognition for a tackle for loss.


Jordan Phillips led the Buffalo Bills with 9.5 sacks and was second in QB hits with 16 (Shaq Lawson had 18). Phillips also tied Lawson for the team lead in tackles for a loss with 13. Phillips said he wanted a shot at taking over for Kyle Williams and had a better year than all but one of Kyle’s (2013).

Phillips is sneaky good and fit what the Bills did on defense to perfection this season. The only remaining question is personality and culture fit. Phillips was labeled a malcontent in Miami. Seemingly happy in Buffalo, if he truly wants to stay, Phillips would be a priority to retain if possible. It may seem like damning with faint praise by mentioning there’s no single attribute that makes Phillips dominant above. Consider this though; elite speed or strength will fall off a cliff. Phillips has no potential cliff. The only barrier to Jordan Phillips having several more seasons like this is Jordan Phillips.

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